Death Note-Movie Collection (Desu nôto) (2006)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Press Conference, Premiere, Meeting the Fans
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Shusuke Kaneko|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Enough to fund the movie three times over!|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Death Note saga is a brooding tale of a young law student, Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara), who finds a death note, the notebook of a shinigami (aka "God of Death", a Japanese take on the Grim Reaper) which kills anyone whose name is written inside the book within seconds. The general rule being that victims die of a heart attack 40 seconds after their name is written, unless additional details about their death are included. Accompanied by Ryuk, the mischievous God of Death who dropped the Death Note for Light, Light goes on a killing spree, eliminating criminals around the globe as well as anybody who threatens to stop him. Dubbed 'Kira' (for 'Killer') by the media, none of whom know his true identity, his actions become a topic that divides the public. Some going as far as worshipping his crusade.
The world's greatest detective, the unconventional 'L' (Ken'ichi Matsuyama), has vowed to stop Kira. Aided by a crack force of Japanese detectives and the FBI, he enters a battle of wits with Light as he tries to prove who the killer is and how they could possibly be committing so many crimes.
The two Death Note films are intended to be taken as a single story. It is great that they have been packaged as such for an Australian audience, as the conclusion of the first movie (or inconclusion, as the case really is - as it stops at a turning point in the story rather than a real conclusion) would probably frustrate a lot of viewers who were not able to pick the sequel up immediately (and are probably still scarred by the end of the second Matrix movie). It is worth noting that while this set purports to be the Death Note "complete movie collection", this set does no include the 2008 sequel/spin off L: Change the WorLd (which was released theatrically in Japan at about the same time as this set hit DVD in Australia).
Death Note is a bonafide phenomenon in Japan. What started out as the manga bible for Japanese emo kids has gripped the nation at large. The manga was a cult success. The first film made a bundle and the second to make twice as much again when it was released less than five months later, becoming the fourth-highest grossing Japanese film of the year (between them, the films raked in more than double 2006's Pokemon effort). The anime was a hit and continues to rate well. The spin-off sequel L: Change the WorLd has spent the entirety of February 2008 atop the charts.
Not a lot is lost in translation. There isn't as much in the way of explosive special effects on show as you would typically find in a western blockbuster, although they aren't really called for by the moody storyline. Save for the shinigami (who, admittedly, are in almost every scene), the CGI is fairly restrained. The story is certainly up to snuff as far as blockbusters go.
The first film follows Light's discovery of the Death Note and his subsequent attempt to purge the world of criminals. Using his inside knowledge of the police force, for whom his father (played by Takeshi Kaga of Iron Chef fame) is a senior investigator, he is able to discover hundreds of criminals that have evaded justice and begins executing them. His own morality slowly slips to the point that he is willing to kill anybody who poses a threat to his goal.
The mysterious 'L' begins to investigate the murders and uncover the identity of Kira. Using his butler to interact with the police, as he hides in his lair to avoid becoming a direct target of Kira. Instead, Kira targets a troupe of FBI detectives that 'L' has roped into helping with the investigation.
The first Death Note film is weighed down heavily by the need to set up the story, outline the concept and develop its characters. It isn't until the second half of the film that the story really kicks in and an intricate game of cat and mouse unfolds. The contrived ending will frustrate some viewers, particularly as it provides no closure to the story, but it succeeds in building anticipation for the sequel.
A second Death Note has made its way to Earth and landed in the hands of Model/TV Starlet Misa Aname (Erika Toda), one of the many worshippers of Kira. Misa dubs herself 'Kira II' and sets about her own killing spree, desperately trying to unite with the original Kira. It isn't long before the two do unite, but the pair end up having to give away their Death Notes to a fiery young reporter in order to throw 'L' off their trails.
Death Note: The Last Name is a great sequel and a marked improvement on the first film. Cutting back on the brooding and posturing that drove the first film, the second film is filled with twists and turns and is unafraid to mess with the formula of the first film. There is plenty of close interaction between Light and 'L', something lacking in the first film, which ramps up the tension no end.
The both films are presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, slightly short of the original theatrical 1.85:1 aspect, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The video looks excellent on each film. The image is sharp, contrast levels are good and there is plenty of detail in the many shadowy scenes. There is no sign of distracting film grain or low-level noise.
The colour in the video is bold and natural. The movies make good use of contrasting light and dark colour and both extremes show up very well.
There is no sign of compression-related artefacts or film artefacts in either film.
Both films feature bold yellow English subtitles for dialogue and white subtitle translations for printed text. The first film, but not the second, has a bit of a subtitle bug whereby in the 3 scenes that both yellow and white subtitles appear on screen at once there appears a dark box that covers most of the action on screen. This is a subtitle-related issue as the box does not appear when the subtitles are turned off. Thankfully, no important actions are missed in those scenes, though this doesn't make the issue any less distracting.
Both discs area RSDL discs. The layer break occurs at 68:22 during the first film and 77:24 in the second. Neither layer break was noticeable on my equipment.
A Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps) audio track is present for each film.
The dialogue is clearly audible and at a good level in the mix for each movie. The audio appears to be well synchronised to the video.
Each film features a fairly discreet orchestral/electronic score. The understatement of these scores goes a long way toward setting the mood of the films.
The soundtracks make good use of the surround speakers to build a moody soundscape. The subwoofer is used reasonably sparingly, but to good effect.
|Surround Channel Use|
Each disc is packed with extras and the set includes a 26 page making of booklet.
The booklet includes a mixture of art, interviews, character and cast biographies. The production info in the booklet is more accessible and interesting than the on-disc Making Of featurettes.
A lengthy fly-on-the-wall making of featurette. A handful of direct interviews, all on-set, are included, though most of the info about the production is presented as subtitles over the on-set footage. This featurette is a little overwhelming and could have used a more judicious edit. As it stands there is plenty of interesting material in it, but it is spread out across a mountain of samey footage.
An assortment of on-set footage played in a small window at the centre of the screen. This one is a bit of a waste of time.
Cast and crew at a press conference to promote the film (including an invisible Ryuk - after all, he's only visible to those that have touched the Death Note). Generic questions and answers, but relatively interesting stuff.
Half a dozen trailers, half appear to be theatrical trailers and half TV spots. Played together it is like being hit over the head by a marketing sledgehammer - albeit a pretty one.
32 promotional stills from the film.
Following a pesky anti-piracy trailer, there are trailers for Death Trance, Cutey Honey, The Host and Volcano High.
This one is nearly a carbon copy of the Making Of on the first disc, albeit about the second film. The most significant difference being that the cast and crew are high on the success of the first film and have a bit to say about the pressure of following up the first film and doing so in such a hurry.
Crowd footage from a preview screening in Japan, along with a brief intro from the director.
The actors who play Light and 'L' address a throng of fans. Generic Q & A stuff.
One trailer and a handful of TV spots. This time around the trailers focus heavily on the success of the first movie to sell the sequel.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Neither film is available in Region 1, USA. The Region 4 edition incorporates the same extra features of the three-disc Japanese special edition of the two films, albeit the Region 4 edition features English subtitles for the on-disc features and an additional collector's booklet. This is a winner for Region 4.
Though the cultural phenomenon of Death Note may not have crossed over to the West, but danged if they aren't fun films to watch. Equal parts brooding thriller and bubblegum teen movie, the formula is guaranteed to pick up cult appeal.
The DVD package is excellent. The audio and video quality are generally first rate and there is a meaty package of extras. One pesky video issue to do with the subtitles on the first disc isn't enough to spoil the package, but is a little frustrating however.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|