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Series / Death Note

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"L and Yagami Light. Neither will accept defeat. Why? Because whichever one loses, dies."
"It's possible I'm acting rashly. But this will be a great step forward for humanity. Creating a world without criminals, where only kind-hearted people can live. If that's what the world wants, then that day will come. I'm going to show you. The curtain's rising on the new world Kira will create."
Light Yagami

A 2015 live action TV drama series of the Death Note franchise. The story follows Light Yagami (Masataka Kubota), an ordinary college student with no ambitions beyond living a quiet life working for the government. One day after dealing with an old classmate known for harassing other people, a Shinigami named Ryuk (voiced by Jun Fukushima) drops a notebook called the Death Note in front of Light, with the notebook possessing the power to kill someone by writing their name down in it. While Light initially dismisses the notebook as ridiculous, when he sees his classmate is dead after writing his name down, Light begins to acknowledge its power is real. After being tempted to use the power of the notebook a second time in order to save his father, Light decides its burden is too much to bear but when Ryuk convinces him that the notebook could end up in the hands of someone evil, and that Light can use it however he wants, Light decides to use the notebook to purge the world of criminals becoming a Serial Killer known as Kira. When his activities catch the attention of a world-famous detective named L (Kento Yamazaki), an all-out battle between the two begins to see who can find the other first.

Death Note contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Since this is a live-action adaptation of manga series, there will be a few changes in hair and eye color.
    • Light has dark brown/black hair instead of light brown/red hair.
    • Misa has medium brown hair instead of blonde.
  • Adapted Out: A lot of superfluous characters and one or two semi-major ones were cut out.
    • Naomi Misora is replaced with someone else entirely as Raye Penber's fiancee. However, Halle Lidner essentially takes her place as L's female ally from the FBI, in this case going undercover as NPA Detective Shoko Himura.
    • Ukita and Ide aren't among the police task force that joins up with L.
    • Wedy and Aiber have absolutely no counterpart in the equivalent to the Yotsuba events.
    • Kiyomi Takada never logs an appearance.
    • Due to changes in how Mello's character played out, Matt had no reason to exist.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • As opposed to how quickly the manga established Light as Kira, this first episode of this version spends a lot of time highlighting Light's life before he makes the decision to become Kira and his struggles with the morality of that decision.
    • L is actually shown interacting with Near, properly setting up the notion of Wammy's House. He also takes action years before he did in the original.
    • Teru Mikami's character before becoming the later Ax-Crazy Dragon is explored from early on in the series.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Kuro Otoharada, originally a minor criminal (and the first person Light kills when testing the notebook), is reimagined as a criminal who Soichiro himself brought to justice at the cost of not being by his wife's deathbed. Light later kills Otoharada in the first episode, saving Soichiro who's being held hostage.
  • Adaptational Badass: Alongside generally not being an idiot, this version of Raye Penber is much more hands-on, personally fighting the busjacker and being seconds away from blowing Light's brains out.
  • Adaptational Dumbass
    • Light is noticeably stupider than his original counterpart. He yells at Ryuk to shut up while he's being pestered in class, he fails at trying to tell Misa that she will be killed without looking like a crazy fan, and it takes him a moment to realize that her security guard was supposed to be the one to kill Misa.
    • Speaking of Misa, she's also stupider than her original counterpart. She messes up left and right as the Second Kira and almost reveals Light as Kira while there were still cameras and microphones set up in his room. It certainly doesn't help her character when she asks Rem what "paranoid" means while Rem was warning her the dangers of owning a Death Note and she only took the eye deal just to find out who Kira is and decided that she didn't want the eyes anymore after that.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Our Villain Protagonist is brought down to Anti-Hero levels in the early episodes of the series. He deeply cares about his family (even though he has a strained relationship with his father), kills the murderer of Misa's parents on her behalf and actually saves people using the Death Note, like getting rid of Jerk Jock Sakota and saving his father from the criminal arguably responsible for the pair's strained relationship (Soichiro chose to book him instead of being at his wife's deathbed). When his sister is abducted, the thought of killing her to keep the notebook from falling into his enemy’s hands doesn’t even cross his mind. He does eventually lose sympathy by the end of the series, at which point Light has allowed his own father to commit suicide because he was, in Light's own words, "in my way".
  • Adaptational Intelligence:
    • Raye Penber of all people. Unlike his manga and anime counterparts he 1. doesn't actually give Light his real name during the busjacking and uses it to deepen the suspicion that Light is Kira, 2. During Light's plan to kill him, he has his conversation with Light wiretapped to figure out how he kills, 3. Catches on to Light's ploy with the FBI files and actually comes ridiculously close to killing him. The only reason he doesn't outright manage to defeat Light is Misa's intervention with her own Death Note.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • L. Though not exactly a 'hero' (with Word of God admitting that he's a bit evil), he usually comes across as A Lighter Shade of Grey when compared to Light and a few spin-offs (namely the film L: change the WorLd and the light novel Another Note) portray him more sympathetically. This series by contrast draws more attention to the amorality of his actions and he is generally far more smug and arrogant than most portrayals. However, when he finds out that Light is Kira, he wanted him to atone for his crimes.
    • While Sayu wasn't exactly the perfect daughter/sister in the original series, here, she's a little more over privileged Bratty Teenage Daughter (watching TV while texting a friend, calling her brother stingy when he refuses to make dinner for her, expecting him to make dinner for her in general, etc.).
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Most of the main cast. L and Light seem to be genuinely honest in their declarations of friendship, even after L's death, and Near is a lot more personable.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Surprisingly not who you'd think but actually Ryuk. As opposed to his All-Powerful Bystander counterpart in the manga who just dropped the notebook into the human world at random and then proceeded to kick back, here he specifically makes sure it falls into Light's hands and actively goads him into continuing to use it when Light is initially fearful of its power.
    • While Near was far from heroic in the original manga and anime, early promotional material described this version of the character as "dangerous." In fact, Near himself is actually much more personable and friendly than before, while Mello is simplified into his Superpowered Evil Side.
    • Halle Lidner is The Mole for Mello's gang, which is in and of itself a much more evil organization here. Subverted when it's revealed that it's all part of L's plan and she's been an FBI under his authority the whole time.
  • Age Lift: Instead of Light being in his late teens, it's implied that he may be somewhere in his early twenties. One episode confirms that his birthdate is the same as the original incarnation (February 28th), but his birth year is 1995 instead of 1986 (1989 in the anime).
  • Alternate Continuity: Some notable changes include:
    • Light isn't a TV Genius and starts off as more of an everyman before becoming Kira.
    • Light's mother is dead in this continuity.
    • Light seems to actually have a thing for Misa and consciously aided in eliminating the murderer of her parents.
    • Near is already involved in the story while L is still active, and Mello is a doll that he uses and actually his Superpowered Evil Side.
    • Ryuk isn't hovering over Light like in the manga and anime and instead just hangs around the house, waiting for Light to return. This changes in the second episode where he does follow him around a little.
    • Soichiro finds out the truth about Light, throwing him over the Despair Event Horizon as he pleads with him, ultimately leading to his death.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Quite a few examples both In-Universe and compared to other versions of the story.
    • L's feelings of friendship towards Light are portrayed as genuine, and it's implied that, while he's still certain that Light is Kira, he really doesn't want him to be. It's as vague as ever with Light himself, though.
      • Considering Light's tearful proclamation that he wanted to be L's friend forever when he thinks L's about to die and his flashback to his moments with L in his dying moments, overlaid with L saying that Light was the first person he'd been interested in and that he wishes they could have met another way, followed by Light exclaiming that "our feelings are the same"... It looks like he really did genuinely care as well.
    • L is the subject of this In-Universe. Even Watari has no idea what his true stance on some things was, especially given that the final scene reveals that he'd prepared a video congratulating Near and Light on capturing Kira, apologizing to the latter... Just in case.
    • Near, and his Split Personality. It's left open to interpretation whether he really has one in the form of Mello, or whether the Mello persona is all an act and he's therefore Obfuscating Insanity.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Near. While the Crunchyroll subs refer to Near as male, the actual dialog never genders them, and in some early promotional material they were specifically described as "a person of unknown/undisclosed gender." They're played by a girl, but Near often is. Mello uses very masculine language, implying he's still male, but as he's still a separate person, that doesn't say anything about Near's gender.
  • Arc Words: "The things X can/can't do".
  • Ascended Extra: Mogi goes from the least focused-on of the task force members to the most besides Soichiro, being an old friend of his who's apparently known Light and Sayu since they were babies. He even acts like a second Team Dad.
  • Big Fun: Mogi is a significantly nicer, warmer person than before who has been fond of Light since he was a baby.
  • Book Ends: In a chronological sense. During the first episode, a flashback showed Soichiro being to late to make it to the hospital before his wife died. When he opened the door, Light and Sayu were standing over her covered corpse, with Light angrily asking why he didn't pick up his calls and ending with Sayu crying for her mother. His eventual death is confirmed nine episodes later, when we see Sayu in the hospital, crying for her father over his corpse. The differences are that his face is uncovered and Light displays a complete lack of emotion, a far cry from the person he used to be.
  • Canon Character All Along: Shoko Himura turns out to be a Race Lifted version of Halle Lidner.
  • Canon Foreigner: Raye Penber's fiancé and Shoko Himura.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • "Another willful request," by Watari, whenever L, and later Near, asks him to do something.
    • Ryuk excitedly exclaims "Humans are so/very interesting!" just about Once an Episode.
  • Creepy Child: Near takes this trope and runs with it.
  • Creepy Doll: Near communicates with Mello through a ventriloquist dummy in the early episodes when all he really has to do is hang around alone.
  • Co-Dragons: Mikami and Misa end up playing this straighter than in the manga, where Misa eventually fell out of relevance compared to other Dragons.
  • Composite Character:
    • Raye Penber is significantly more competent in this adaptation, and Naomi Misora was Adapted Out in favor of... some girl. He pretty much inherits the surprisingly large deal of difficulty and cleverness she once had. He would've taken Light down during the third episode if it wasn't for Misa.
    • Mello is Near's Superpowered Evil Side.
    • Shoko Himura is Halle Lidner in name and role as Mello's Number Two, Ide in initial role to the task force (and his Out of Focus status until The Reveal), Naomi Misora in appearance and past involvement with L (they worked on a case together in the past and she's unfailingly loyal to him) and even shares a good deal with canon's version of Mello.
    • Light dies in a fire, like Takada.
  • Cool Old Guy: Watari, par for course, as L's friendly proxy, helper, and father figure, taking on the part for Near when he shows up as well.
  • The Corrupter: Ryuk intentionally drops the Death Note near Light in this version, rather than Light randomly being the one to find the book, and influences him to become Kira.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Light's mother died years before the series began, and his father's absence during it drove a bit of a wedge into their relationship.
    • Halle Lidner, also known as Himura Shoko in this setting, is killed by Mikami's Death Note. She gives Light back the stolen death note, rides off, and kills herself "somewhere she won't be found" as directed.
  • Deal with the Devil: While Light already believes he's dammed for having used the notebook, his partnership with Ryuk comes off more like this opposed to the manga as Ryuk goads him into using the notebook for his own purposes.
  • Demoted to Extra: While Mogi got the opposite trope, Matsuda and Aizawa were barely any more than Those Two Guys, and the former's most impressive moments were either given to somebody else, written out, or someone else's idea.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Every other version of Light Yagami has gone out with a Death Note-induced heart attack, almost always being killed by Ryuk once he got bored. Here, he burns to death in a warehouse and Ryuk isn't involved at all.
  • Dramatic Unmask: More like dramatic hood flip when L shows his face to the audience after the Lind L. Tailor ploy and eggs Light on to try and kill him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Light nearly pulls this off after realizing the Death Note's powers are real. His dad does so after realising that Light is too far gone to turn himself in, blaming himself for ignoring what he perceived as cries for help early in the series.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After his engineered busjacking test in episode 2 ended with him injuring his left shoulder, he holds it for the rest of the episode. It's made clearer that this referenced his pose after his left hand was shot by Matsuda in the finale.
    • This line from Sochiro to Light in Episode 6, after one views the former's death in episode 10: "If you turned out to be Kira, I was prepared to die here."
    • Episode 7 has L and Near work on a jigsaw puzzle together. L gives the last piece to Near, claiming that he may not be the one to complete the puzzle. He unintentionally meant the Kira case as a whole, because L dies two episodes later, and in the last episode, Near beats Light and exposes him as Kira.
    • Throughout the whole series, there are some scenes and subtle motifs associating Light with fire, alluding to Light's death in a warehouse fire:
      • Episode 3 has Light set up a trap in his drawer: if one fails to pull open the cover hiding his 'Death Note' correctly, an electrical current would ignite the oil bag underneath it, destroying his evidence. That is a double whammy, as that tells us not just Light's fate, but how Light meets that: he grabbed his burning 'Death Note'.
      • Later on in the episode, Light burning a flowchart linking Raye Pember, his fiancé and the FBI.
      • After L's death in Episode 9, Light uses a lighter to destroy Mikami's 'Death Note' scrap used to kill L.
      • How does Light kill Shoko Himura in Episode 10? By blowing herself up with a grenade and C4 to destroy Mello's Kira evidence.
      • Not to mention Sochiro's attempt at destroying the 'Death Note' before his suicide with that notebook: splashing flammable liquid on the 'Death Note' and igniting it. Although Light stops him, he only delayed the inevitable.
  • It Amused Me: Ryuk's motivation for dropping the notebook and giving it to Light remains the same.
  • It Gets Easier: Light nearly commits suicide after confirming that he'd killed his first two victims. Cut ahead to a month later, and he's acting as Kira just fine.
  • Kill It with Fire: Light's death here. Instead of being killed by Ryuk writing his name down, he burns in a fire.
  • Lighter and Softer: Instead of Light's descent into madness being a complete bloodbath, he kills over fifty people within a month via heart attacks. Most of his murders in this version are just people dying of heart attacks, even when people dying of heart attacks is probably a dead giveaway. In addition, the show notably shows a more positive tone than the original manga and anime.
  • Missing Mom: Light's mother Sachiko is dead in this incarnation and his father Soichiro's absence from her deathbed and subsequently from Light's life in general puts a bit of a strain on their relationship.
  • Mr. Fanservice: L briefly has a scene where he changes shirts because the one he wore had a small pulp stain from the juices he drinks. This appears to happen quite frequently.
  • Never My Fault: Light blames Lind L. Taylor for getting in his way and thus, provoking him to kill.
  • Not His Sled: The plot mostly follows the original, but it still throws more than one of these moments at viewers, greatly changing certain aspects of various plot points.
    • L allows police to meet him in person much faster, though admittedly only with Soichiro at first.
    • First, Raye Penber presents Light with a false ID of a businessman. This is quickly resolved, but then when Light writes his name in... It's not his name. Then, he figures out the scheme that killed him in the original and manages to confront Light, failing only because of Misa's unexpected interference. His fiancee is pretty much a non-entity.
    • The creepy guy with a camera evokes the creep who nearly killed Misa in the original, and Light even takes measures with one of her bodyguards to prevent her from being attacked after Ryuk tips him off... But then it turns out that same bodyguard was the real would-be killer.
    • After Light's Memory Gambit pays off, he sends Misa out into a forest for her to dig up Rem's 'Death Note' and touch it to regain her memories, exactly how the source material played out. Unfortunately, one episode ago, Teru Mikami had dogged her once to find out how she was connected to Kira, so a hired former private detective is sent into that forest, knocking Misa out and delivering what Misa had dug up to Mikami. Hence, this is how he gets the 'Death Note' to obtain his sense of justice.
    • In L's final confrontation with Light to force him to admit he's Kira, he breaks down and shows his true side after receiving a message from Mikami revealing L's true name, L. Lawliet; thus Light becomes the first to scrawl his name into the Death Note instead of Rem in the original. However, L doesn't die, as the Note Light scrawled on was a fake. L is then killed by Mikami instead, who writes his name into a scrap of Death Note he has as backup, preventing him from revealing the truth to the investigation team.
    • Himura, the Affirmative Action Girl of the Task Force, replaces Mello as Sayu's kidnapper out to get the Notebook... But she's basically Mello's Dragon at the end of the day. Regardless, a member of the task force being a villain is still this trope.
    • Mello is Near.
    • The one consistent detail of Light's fate in other adaptations, that Ryuk ultimately does him in, is changed. Instead, Ryuk simply watches him burn.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The final shot is the sky above L's grave after Near and Watari leave. For bonus symbolism, the full moon, which has been representative of Light throughout, is visible above the cross, suggesting they might be Together in Death after all.
  • Promotion to Parent: Since his mother is dead and his father is at work most of the time, Light has taken on the responsibility of being both a brother and a parental figure for Sayu.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Far more pronounced than in the original due to Light's descent coming significantly slower, particularly with him genuinely caring for Misa even more than just an annoying pawn.
  • Running Gag: L changing shirts every time he gets something on one.
  • Shower Scene: L and Light have one in Episode 4, and it's played for all the Ho Yay Fanservice it's worth!
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Light does this to Misa when she's about to reveal him as Kira. At the time, she didn't realize that L had set up cameras and microphones in his room and she thought his jitteriness meant that he was nervous around girls or was just oblivious to the reason why she was there.
  • Smash the Symbol: In the beginning of the finale, Light comes across the doll of Mello on a road. But as he comes closer, a truck tips a ton of debris right on top of it, while Light manages to evade being crushed. This was basically Near giving a hint to Light that their Split-Personality Takeover was faked.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Mello overtakes Near, complete with Evil Costume Switch.
    • This turns out to be a ruse; Near was never out of control and Mello was just helping Near carry out L's plan.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ryuk jokingly claims that Light has become this for Misa. Though this may have been Foreshadowing for who was originally supposed to kill her.
  • Stalker Without A Crush:
    • Ryuk follows Light around for a good chunk of the first episode and drops the notebook specifically behind him. This time, he meant for Light to pick it up.
    • Raye Penber, the FBI agent following Light, is this.
  • Stress Vomit: Light nearly hurls after hearing Sakota died of a heart attack.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Even from beyond the grave, L still manages to make a fool of Matsuda in one of his many posthumous video messages.
  • These Hands Have Killed: As opposed to his more sociopathic manga counterpart, Light is much more bothered by the first two murders he commits and even attempts suicide before making the decision to become Kira.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: L, surprisingly. While he wasn't exactly pleasant all of the time in the manga, here he comes off as much more smug and condescending, only bothered by being compared to Kira when Soichiro calls him out on how hypocritical the Lind L. Tailor stunt was.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 2 has Light attempt to kill Raye Pember after getting his name from the latter's badge in a busjacking. He writes in the 'Death Note' that he goes to L, leading to an argument between the two that ends with Raye shooting L before dying himself. But later on, Light receives a phone call from L, who tells Light that Raye told light everything that happened on the bus, with one more tip.
      L: Although, as it happens, Raye is not his real name.
    • Episode 8's clash has Light beating up L for possession of the 'Death Note', with L remarking that Light cannot kill him, because of his real name being unknown. A text message is sent to Light's phone, who picks it up and laughs. It's because L's real name was sent to him by Mikami.
      Light: I... finally have it... Ryuga. No... L... No. (Shows phone to L) L Lawliet.
    • Two of them occur in Episode 9's ending, when Near watches L's second posthumous video.
      L: If you're viewing this second video, it means the investigation is proceeding, right?
      Near: Of course it is, L.
      L: Near. Kira is Yagami Light.
      Near: (Giggles) It took you this long? I've known that for a long time, L.
    • Episode 10's denouement seemingly shows Light fulfiling his main goal: retrieving the second 'Death Note' from Himura. He gloats that he can finally become the God of the New World... and then Soichiro calls out Light's name from behind him, having heard everything.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In Episode 3, Light orders Raye to write down the names of all FBI agents on a provided sheet of paper, including his own on a red box marked on that sheet. He does this, and walks into an abandoned factory to drop off the 'Death Note' and die, according to the red entry. But when Light secretly goes to the factory to retrieve his paper, passing by Raye's corpse, the corpse's hand grabs Light's foot.
    • In the same episode, the Once More, with Clarity montage at the end reveals two important facts: Misa found out Light's identity as Kira at her concert, with her eyes glowing yellow. This shows that she used the Shinigami eyes to locate the 'Death Note' user who didn't have a lifespan floating above their head. And then, when it cuts to Light's near-capture by Raye, a P.O.V. Cam shows Raye's real name and lifespan, confirming that she was the one who indirectly saved Light's life, by writing Raye's name down in her 'Death Note'.
    • Episode 8 has Light get L's real name, and having stopped L from attempting to kill him with the retrieved 'Death Note', writes L's name down. 40 seconds passes... and L gets up, weakly laughing all the while. This meant that Light's writing in that 'Death Note' never affected L, with the next episode revealing that with the help of Watari, L swapped the notebook with a fake.
    • The next episode after that has L, victorious over Light by switching the notebooks, and at the husk of finally telling the Investigation Team about Light's betrayal. Suddenly, the heart attack sound effect is heard, and L can only collapse to the floor, with the implications being clear.
    • Episode 10's denouement has Soichiro writing his own name in the 'Death Note', to test Light's lie on whether that notebook is a fake willingly given by Himura. As his last words] he tells Light that he will do one last thing as a father... by opening a flask, splashing flammable liquid on the 'Death Note' and brandishing a lit lighter.
    • Another one in that same episode. Light wrote Himura's name down, ordering her to give him the 'Death Note' and drive off to her fate. During the credits, we see what happens: Himura goes back to Mello's hideout, covered with pictures and strings about the Kira investigation. As Mello asks her where the 'Death Note' is, the latter reaches into her bag, pulling out and activating a grenade. In that close-up shot revealing the grenade, C4 can also be seen strapped to her jacket. She ends up fulfilling the final part of Light's writing: to kill herself and destroy all evidence relating to Kira, much to Mello's shock.
    • The final episode has Light finally cornering Mello in a warehouse after the latter had kidnapped Sayu just days before. He tells Mello that the jig is up, and that it's time to turn himself in... until Mello takes off his helmet, revealing it to be Near instead.
    • Also, Light poses the question of how Near took the real 'Death Note' from Mikami and replaced it with a phony, even though the latter used his version to kill two criminals on the morning news to confirm it's authenticity. Near then calls for Watari, and a projector shows two versions of the news website, with one version reporting the criminals' deaths, and the normal version. The news was actually altered to fool Mikami!