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YMMV / Death Note Series

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  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Many readers were upset by how Naomi Misora gave her name to Light in the manga/anime when he lied about being on the task force, because she knows Soichiro and trusts that his son is cut from the same cloth. To make matters worse, L notes with horror that she's probably dead when her parents report her missing. That is fixed here. Naomi suspects Light from the start because she knows that Raye was tracking him, and doesn't give out her real name when interacting with him. Light has to do some detective work to figure out how to kill her and clear himself in the process. To ensure that Naomi isn't Stuffed in the Fridge, L reveals himself to Light and eats from the same bag of horrible chips to make it clear that he will avenge one of his friends.
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    • L dying after he finally exposed Light's secret identity as Kira was unanimously seen as a welcome change by many, who believed that his victory through self-sacrifice was more in character for him, rather than him dying before Light was outed.
    • While there is a Broken Base for the manga and anime's different respective endings, Death Note: The Last Name combines both the endings: Light Yagami dies a squirming mess, not wanting to die like the manga, as well as him having an Alas, Poor Villain moment like the anime. This was welcomed by fans of both.
    • Unlike in the anime and manga, Soichiro is not only Spared by the Adaptation, but gets to find out definitively that his son is Kira, both of which were seen as welcome changes from the source material where he dies believing that he has proof of his son's innocence.
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  • Complete Monster: Light Yagami, once a college student frustrated at the perceived failures of the Japanese justice system, proves that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Upon getting his hands on the titular Death Note, the narcissistic Light quickly declares his designs of becoming the god of a new world. While he starts off by simply killing criminals, he eventually expands his targets to include the FBI investigators attempting to catch him, and anyone else he sees as a hindrance to his ascension. Light kills his girlfriend Shiori Akino at the end of the first movie to gain sympathy from L, using Naomi Misora, whom he also kills. His disinterest in the fate of anyone other than himself is shown most clearly when he gives the note to someone who he knew for certain would use it for selfish and evil purposes just so that he can throw the authorities off his trail and kill his rival. Once he believes himself to have won, Light wastes no time in writing the name of his own father in the Death Note, an act that horrifies even his most loyal follower Misa Amane.
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  • Cult Classic: The first two movies, directed by Shusuke Kaneko, became this in Japan. They are considered to be one of the better live-action adaptation of manga materials and garnered enough popularity to spawn a spin-off, along with another sequel a decade later.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Since the first two movies lacked the style from the original manga and its anime adaptation, this was mostly averted.
  • Fridge Brilliance: In the first movie, when Ryuk watches a Misa Amane cooking show on Light's television, he is smiling all the while. When Light asks what Ryuk is doing, he replies that he's doing nothing. Observant viewers will realise that since Ryuk has the Shinigami eyes, he can see Misa's short life span due to her nearly being killed by an infatuated TV director. He was essentially laughing at witnessing the possibility of an abrupt death for the pop star, and it was only with Gelus' intervention that this prediction never came to pass.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The first movie had Ryuk offer Light the Shinigami eyes, which allow him to see a person's name lifespan and make it easier to kill his pursuers by writing their name down. However, Light rejects this offer, believing it to be a hindrance in finding his unnamed rival's real identity. Cue another film released eight years later, Monsterz, where Light's actor, Tatsuya Fujiwara, playing a murderer who can immobilize his victims just by looking at them with his special eyes! And a special person is immune to Light's power!
  • Magnificent Bastard: L Lawliet is the world's greatest detective and, as always, the one man standing in the way of Light Yagami. Introduced by tricking Light into revealing his location by using a body double, L originally seems to buy Light's excuses for joining the Task Force, only to quietly reveal that he is well aware of Light being Kira. Quickly deducing Misa's identity as the second Kira, L has her arrested upon their introduction, and when Light unleashes his Memory Gambit to clear his name, L remains convinced of his guilt. Upon learning of the existence of the Death Note, L purposefully writes his own name in it to inoculate himself against Light's attempts to kill him, faking his death and tricking Light into outing himself to the Task Force. With that final gambit, L succeeds where his original counterpart failed and defeats Kira before dying on his own terms.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If Light didn't cross it when he killed Raye Iwamatsu and the other 11 FBI agents, he did when he manipulated events so that in order to kill Raye's bereaved fiancé Naomi via a suicide, she would have to fatally shoot his girlfriend Shiori first. All of this without giving a damn about letting a loved one of his die for his plan to work!
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The first teaser trailer released to announce Death Note (2006) and Death Note: The Last Name (Only available on the Death Note: Movie Collection DVD). It doesn't use any footage from the film at all. Instead, all you see is a black screen, with the first rule of the Death Note being written. The pen strokes can induce fear to those who are unaware of the source material, as does the brief hesitation before writing the last horrific word. And then, when the title of the movies and credits are shown, all you hear is a slow, repetitive heartbeat... until it stops at the website link. That can be a reminder to fans who know how each Death Note victim normally dies.
      How to use it: The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
    • Misa as Kira II in Death Note: The Last Name is far more terrifying that she was in the source material. She doesn't make the same stupid mistakes, her computer-altered voice sounds more robotic, and the insane dialogue she's saying is absolutely chilling. And this is happening at a live public festival in this version.
    • The Investigation Team finally catch Kiyomi in a trap, who has assumed the Kira persona. This means that they're one step closer, right? Unfortunately not. All members touch the 'Death Note' she has, allowing them to see Rem. That includes Light, who finally gets his memories back of Kira. The first thing he does with this knowledge is to secretly write Kiyomi's name on a 'Death Note' scrap in his watch's secret compartment, while everyone is distracted by Rem's introduction. And although we do see the heart attack coming for her just seconds later, think about it from her perspective: she is bound and blindfolded, only hears Rem declaring himself as a Shinigami, until he informs the Investigation Team to try and write down Kiyomi's name as proof of authenticity. Kiyomi can only express her disbelief by pleading Rem not to, before experience a sharp, burning pain at her chest. Since she can't use her limbs to try to ease the pain, Kiyomi can only writhe in agony until she passes away.
  • Pandering to the Base: These films change the ending so that L wins. It allows Soichiro to actually learn his son is Kira; many considered his dying without ever knowing to be a copout. It also counts as a Pragmatic Adaptation, as it eliminated the entire Near story arc and the need to introduce a cast-load of additional characters. The movie format doesn't lend itself well to adding the Time Skip and a new storyline from scratch. However, since the Near/Mello arc has been subject to a lot of criticism, this too is often seen as part of the pandering.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Misa Amane in this series. In the anime and manga, she was loathed by Western fans for her constant whiny and womanchild personality, as well as her stupidity that keeps putting Light at the risk of being caught. In this series, her whiny and childish attitude is heavily downplayed, she doesn't make the same stupid mistakes her anime and manga counterparts make, and she's more aware of how bad Kira's actions are like, when Light plans to kill his father. The movie also fully shows her backstory of how her family was killed by a murderer who wasn't convicted for his crimes and was killed by Kira, turning Misa into more of a sympathetic woobie than her anime and manga counterparts. By the time she was Driven to Suicide in Death Note: Light Up the New World, many people felt sorry for what she had to go through in all those films.
  • Shocking Moments: For Death Note: The Last Name, the entire Kira II tape sequence on Sakura TV. You will be shocked that the Second Kira will not hesitate to end the lives of policemen and news reporters denouncing Kira, and be more surprised when Sayu doesn't end like them, despite her calling Kira a monster on live television!
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: In the climax of the second film, Soichiro delivers the ultimate message of the series: human justice systems are imperfect because they are made by imperfect people, but they are a culmination of trying to define such a concept. What's more, he accurately pegs Light as being self-serving in how he kills people and that divine murder isn't the answer because murder is not justice. Heavy-handed? Yes. Necessary to combat those Rooting for the Empire? Also yes.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The English dub of these films has this status since the voice actors from the anime dub all reprise their roles, and all of them are still as phenomenal as ever. It even makes the ending of the second film even better where Light is outed as Kira by L, and Soichiro giving Light the message about justice systems being imperfect and murder never being the answer, which was one of the best performances of Chris Britton as Soichiro Yagami.
  • Vindicated by History: When these films came out, they received So Okay, It's Average reception within both critics and fans (at least within North America): as film adaptations of manga series, they are decent at best and has an improved ending, but the special effects didn't age well. However, shortly after the release of Netflix's American adaptation of Death Note, fans enthusiastically put the Japanese live-action movies onto the high pedestal. Not only they consider these as the superior adaptation, but also among the best live-action adaptations of comic books or manga series in the past few decades. It also helps that for those who are more closer to the Death Note anime dub, the voice actors from the anime dub reprise their roles in this film series' English dub.
  • What an Idiot!: In the first movie, Naomi Misora deduces that Light Yagami was the student Ray was investigating and accuses him of being Kira after giving him an alias.
    You’d Expect: She would leave without another word. If her deduction is accurate, Light would try to kill her and assume she’s dead. That wat she could investigate him and stay one step ahead.
    Instead: Naomi tells Light that the name she gave him was an alias.
    To Make Matters Worse: She told Light she was Ray’s fiancée.
    The Result: Light finds her church and gets her name from the ordained minister who was going to marry her to Raye. Light then uses this information to conduct a hostage situation where Naomi kills Light’s girlfriend Shiori so he can gain L’s sympathy.

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