“Death Note II: The Last Name” – Chris Luedtke

I tend to moan and groan at sequels when it comes to film. However, there is that occasional film that isn’t necessarily a “sequel” but just another piece of the film cropped into a second DVD. Anyone that’s seen the Kill Bill series knows what I’m talking about. Death Note II: The Last Name is just that, a piece of the puzzle that just had to be released in a second box. Those who have seen the first know that the second is an absolute must to quench that closure they so strongly lust for. The Last Name has arrived, and it’s no disappointment.

The Last Name picks up almost immediately where the first Death Note left off. Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) infiltrates the headquarters of the world-famous detective L (Ken’ichi Matsuyama). But with Light’s deception comes Misa (Erika Toda), Light’s new partner in the cleansing of the world. However, L still hasn’t given up his suspicions of Light and continues his investigations. But with two Death Notes on the loose, can Light cover his tracks with the use of Misa, or will L discover the evidence he needs to bring him down?

The first thing we immediately notice is that The Last Name hasn’t changed its style. Light is still a power-tripping bastard, and L is as cunning as ever. It’s nice to see how closely this followed the manga. Those who have read the Death Note manga will notice that the two main characters of the last five chapters (Near and Mellow) are nowhere to be found. This doesn’t deter from the story or sequence of events. In fact, The Last Name alters events quite a bit, but I can’t say it’s bad in anyway. Some characters in the manga are almost condensed together to more easily create a finished product that doesn’t need to be another six hours. L is arguably fused into Near and even a little Mellow, but he’s still the same old awkward L.

The thing I found most suprising about The Last Name is that it clocks in at a hefty two hours and twenty minutes. I can’t honestly recall a moment where I felt the impact of the film’s length. The Last Name has a gorgeous flow to it that just keeps the questions rolling, the wit churning, and the surprises never-ending. I wish I could say something about the plot, but I’d risk giving away some crucial events and/or surprises. The calculation here is so exact. Events that happen are approached from every angle. Observation is keen; it almost feels like a good reality television show (excuse the oxymoron).

I really have only minor complaints about The Last Name, as well as that the ending is a little…weird. Weird really shouldn’t be a surprise here, but let’s just say that there’s a point in which confusion is almost unavoidable. I’m still pondering over what exactly happened here. Still, taking into consideration the overall picture, I don’t find it affects the experience much. One could also complain that the battle of righteousness isn’t waged enough here, but there is irony within that. While Light’s battle is arguably righteous, his character is not. He just comes off as too much of a villain with his nature. He sees the world as his enemy even though he is trying to salvage it and bring justice to those that have “earned” it. His ego doesn’t help with this at all either. But in a world this vibrant, Light’s personal nature is always challenged by L, the yin to his yang.

If you’ve seen Death Note, then you need to see Death Note II: The Last Name. There isn’t a dull moment here. Characters are lively, egos clash, and the ending is pretty damn climatic. Sure, there’s nothing blowing up, but with these time-bomb-like characters, you don’t need an explosion, because every second is a nail biting experience.

Rating: ★★★½

-Chris Luedtke

Read A.J. Hakari’s Death Note II: The Last Name review here.

Leave a Reply