This page is for the Japanese live-action film. For the American live-action film that was released in 2017, see Death Note (2017 film).
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Death Note is the first film in the Death Note live-action film series. It is the first half of a two-part story with the second film, Death Note: The Last Name. Along with the second film, it was directed by Shūsuke Kaneko and based on the Death Note manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.


Light Yagami, a young college student discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written within it while picturing that person's face, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a Shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "god of the new world" by passing his judgment on those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.

After months of killing criminals, Light is dubbed Kira by the public and some believe him to be righteous about killing criminals. Interpol is no closer to catching him, and is going to pass the case on to the Ministry of Health as some disease, until L steps onto the scene. Known as the best detective in the world, L has solved many cases with his assistant Watari. Working with them, L manages to confront Light, live on TV, and deduces he is in the Kanto region of Japan and he can "kill without lifting a finger." The race begins between L and Light to discover each other's identity, and a game of cat and mouse ensues between the two geniuses. Later, Naomi Misora kidnaps Shiori and asks Light to come to the art museum and confess that he really is Kira if he wants to save her. He goes to the museum, but denies that he is Kira, and says that he is upset at seeing his girlfriend being taken hostage. Misora tells Light that unless he starts to write her real name, which was "Naomi" written in katakana, she would kill Shiori. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira. Soichiro, upon seeing this, sends the police. Misora immediately becomes upset and distracted, allowing Light's girlfriend to break free and run away from her. Misora fires her gun and shoots Shiori, who dies in Light's arms shortly afterward, and then afterward commits suicide by shooting herself.

Later, Ryuk finds that Light had actually engineered Naomi's death using the Death Note, as he had already found out her name by checking with the church since she revealed to him she was Iwamatsu's fiancée and he reasoned that nobody would use a fake name in marriage and written a scenario whereby Misora would commit suicide after shooting Shiori. Obviously, Ryuk is confused, as by doing this, Light would end up killing Shiori, but Light reveals that he had written her name in the Death Note as well.


Production creditsEdit

Japanese staff
  • Director: Shusuke Kaneko
  • Screenplay: Tetsuya Oishi
  • Executive producers: Seiji Okuda and Toyoharu Fukuda
  • Producer: Takahiro Sato
  • Assistant Camera: Sakura Seno
  • Camera: Minoru Ishiyama
  • Chief Lighting Technician: Masamichi Uwabo
  • Cinematography: Kenji Takama
  • Film Editing: Yousuke Yafune
  • First Assistant Director: Koji Yamaguchi
  • Original Music: Kenji Kawai
Japanese companies
  • Production: Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Shueisha, and Warner Bros.
  • Sound Stages: Nikkatsu Studio

Release and receptionEdit


Death Note premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006 and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place.

Death Note (死亡筆記) was released in Hong Kong on August 10, 2006, in Taiwan on September 8, 2006, in Singapore on October 19, 2006, and in Malaysia on November 9, 2006, with English and Chinese subtitles. The world premiere was in the UA Langham Place cinema in Hong Kong on October 28, 2006, the first Japanese movie to premiere in Hong Kong. The film ended up earning US$41 million in Japan, US$1.9 million in Hong Kong. It was released in the UK on April 25, 2008.

The film had a limited theatrical release in North American on May 20 and 21, 2008. One of the theatrical versions featured subtitles, while the other was dubbed and featured the voice actors from the English dub of the anime.

DVD and Blu-rayEdit

The film was released on DVD in Japan on March 14, 2007. Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name were re-released together in a Blu-ray box on November 23, 2011, to celebrate the film's fifth anniversary. The box included making-of footage, the menu video, and the film trailer on DVD, along with director's audio commentary and a message from actors Tatsuya Fujiwara and Erika Toda, who played Light Yagami and Misa Amane, respectively. The DVD was priced down and reissued in October 2016 to commemorate the release of Death Note: Light Up the NEW World.

The film was released on DVD in North America by Viz Media on September 16, 2008, and included both the English subtitled and English dubbed versions. Viz Media later re-released the film on Blu-ray.

Death Note was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by Funimation on January 22, 2019. It was subtitled and bundled with The Last Name, but unlike their previous North American release, these versions are not dubbed. They were released alongside Death Note: Light Up the NEW World.[2]

Distributor Region Released Format Notes and content
VAP 2 Mar 14 2007 DVD Japanese first DVD release
A/1 Nov 23 2011 Blu-ray Japanese 5th anniversary box
Viz Pictures 1 Sep 16 2008 DVD English subtitled and dubbed
A/1 Aug 24 2010 Blu-ray English subtitled and dubbed, double release with Death Note: The Last Name
Funimation A/1 Jan 22 2019 DVD, Blu-ray English subtitled (not dubbed), double release with Death Note: The Last Name

Behind the scenesEdit


Kaneko chartered an underground line to film a particular scene in the first film; this was the first time in Japanese film history that an underground line was used. Kaneko used about 500 extras throughout the first film.

Intent with the filmEdit

Shūsuke Kaneko, director of the film, said that the comic series "barely touches" pain felt by the Death Note's victims, so he decided to use a different focus with the film series.

Tatsuya Fujiwara, the actor who portrayed Light in the film series, compared the theme of Death Note to the theme of Crime and Punishment and viewed Death Note as a "very eccentric story" that "depicts very permanent theme."

Kaneko, in his production notes, says that people may feel that killing "bad ones" is fair but humans need to understand the power of the Death Note. Kaneko adds that the psychological fear of dying could be "more nightmarish than Kaiju (monsters) destroying cities and killing people."

Kaneko also stated that he wanted the film to "focus on psychological pain," explain how the deaths occur, and explain how younger people begin to like Kira and other people begin to like L.

Kaneko indicated mixed feelings while directing the movie; he said that he felt "a little reservation" at how the movie would perform since the film "uses 'death' to entertain the audience" and feels "morally unsettling." Kaneko theorizes that the film may have performed well because of the Internet culture of Japan. Kaneko said that use of the Death Note had similarities to how users attack one another on message boards and blogs. In addition, Kaneko said that death is "carefully" concealed to the point where "people don't even think about it."

Image galleryEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Converted using December 2006 exchange rate of 0.0085.
  2. Funimation Licenses Japanese Live-Action Death Note Films, Anime News Network, 2018 September 21.