"Death Note" is an amazing work with stellar a cliffhanger (Japan Cuts, New York)

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When Light Yagami (prominent son of a police inspector and a brilliant law student in his own right) discovers the other world book called, “Death Note”, he feels it’s his destiny to envelop the world with his own brand of justice. With a great feeling of purpose, he envisions a world which is devoid of malintent and a place where the weak will not fear.

Too many criminals Light (played by Tatsuya Fujiwara) believes do not obtain their “just desserts”, or worse yet, do not even get punished at all. Light who gives himself the pseudonym- “Kira”, embarks upon his crusade to save the world from every sort of criminal.

Death Note contains specific rules that the one who possesses its supernatural power must follow. You must write the name of the one who is to perish on a page in the book. Within moments (40 seconds to be exact), the victim shall die of a most dreadful heart attack. Kira/Light gradually is infused with an unstoppable ability, but when the pattern surfaces, the authorities are brought in to examine the unusual trend in deaths. Seemingly invincible in many respects, a well respected and genius detective named, “L” (who has a sweet tooth), becomes a formidable ally with the police department to strategize and apprehend Kira who has become a hero to many.

Light is visited by the god of death called, “Ryuk” (voiced by Shido Nakamura), who intrigued, reveals himself to Light, explaining that the book is now his because he accidently dropped it. Watching over his new protégé, the god of death who is immensely fond of red apples, instructs and guides Light in his use of the book. With Light’s web of clandestine affairs becoming more and more complex, the killings begin to take a whole new meaning. Kira must protect his identity and now targets non-criminal elements on a global scale in order to keep himself in hiding.

Up the ante, with now implementing the type of death, the situation and time as well, Light becomes godlike in his mannerisms. The book not only becomes an instrument to his “divine” justice, but a personality all its own. An entity which eventually consumes our anti-hero.

L, is determined to find Kira and this battle of wits commences between them, the ultimate goal is to determine which adversary will emerge victorious in this cat and mouse game. Challenging each other with every move like a tournament chess game, even the god of death (remaining neutral he remarks) is fascinated by the battle and is anxious of the outcome.

Expertly directed by Shusuke Kaneko, this live action version of the successful manga series, “Death Note” has quickly become a cult classic and I can see why. More of a psychological combat between the forces of light and darkness, both forces clash on screen without the assistance of excessive pyrotechnics or copious amounts of CGI. It’s simplicity is synonymous to a Holmes versus Professor Moriarty saga. The storyline is a basic one and it’s filled with suspense at every corner. With comedy interlaced with the supernatural and with a “spy vs. spy” sensibility, “Death Note” is an amazing work with stellar a cliffhanger.

* * * * 1/2
Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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Tobe R. Roberts

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