THIS is the third instalment in the Death Note franchise that is based on a manga, following Death Note (2006) and Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006). Although I haven’t watched either, I am aware what the story is generally about.
A young man named Light Yagami (Fujiwara Tatsuya) finds a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. He then decides to play God and rid the world of criminals.
Lots have happened since the first film. There is also the character of master detective L (Matsumoto Kenichi) who is bent on stopping Light from his killing rampage which is eventually labelled by the Japanese as the work of Kira.
Another character iconic to the Death Note franchise is Ryuk, a grinning, wide-eyed Shinigami (God of Death) which must accompany the person who picks up his Death Note until the person dies.
Light Up The New World is set 10 years after the happenings in the prequels.
Luckily, at the beginning of the film, a brief is given on what has happened to Light and L and how the Death Note books actually work.
Although the information is somewhat sufficient, it’s best to watch the prequels first to understand the dangers the books bring and how Light and L affected the people around them.
We learn that there can only be six authentic Death Note notebooks in the world at one time. After a 10-year hiatus, the Death Note killings have resumed, prompting the setting up of a task force headed by Tsukuru Mishima (Higashide Masahiro).
Ryuzaki (Ikematsu Sosuke), a private detective and L’s successor (apparently, he also inherits L’s DNA), joins the search to secure all six books from further causing mass destruction.
Meanwhile, Kira worshipper Yuki Shien (Suda Masaki) is a cyber-terrorist who wants all six Death Note notebooks.
He employs Light’s former lover, Misa (Toda Erika), who owns one Death Note.
Ryuzaki and Mishima must stop Shien from using his own books to oust them first.
It’s a tricky and heart-pumping race to see who can outwit the other to get their hands on the notebooks.
There is much information to process, such as how the Death Note operates, what Light and L had done earlier and what is happening now with the notebooks.
All are explained in a whirlwind of revelations and turns of events. Even though there is much to take in, thankfully they aren’t that confusing.
The storyline is fast-paced and exciting, especially when the task force grapples to fight against Shien, who uses the Internet as his mask and shield.
It is also nerve-wracking for them because they don’t know who exactly has the notebooks. It’s so easy to kill people in this Death Note world. You just have to write their names down in the notebooks and they die immediately, seemingly from heart failure.
There is a scene at the beginning where a teenager walks innocuously in the packed district of Shibuya with one of the notebooks.
Having obtained Shinigami Eyes (an ability to learn other humans’ names), she begins her killing spree, seemingly addicted to her new power. It certainly looks cruel but apparently that’s one of the main appeals of the Death Note premise.
As they fight for justice, the task force experiences several road blocks. There is also the strange love-hate relationship between Ryuzaki and Mishima.
I like Ryuzaki for his brazen and eccentric demeanour. Mishima on the other hand, is by the book, so this personality contrast is brilliant on screen.
Shien, on the other hand, is a mystery. We find out why he’s so eager to obtain the six notebooks and why Kira is an important figure in his life.
Shien also has an interest in origami. The ones shown in the film are nothing like I’ve seen before, as they have curvy sides. They’re so pretty!
Despite the not-so-eventful scenes like this, the engaging main storyline keeps audiences entertained.
It may be fast-paced, but it’s hard not to be intrigued on what happens next. However, be prepared for a major plot twist which even threw my understanding of the story off course.
This vital piece of information is so mind-blowing that thankfully, the film sort of slows its pace to let that sink in.
You wouldn’t have guessed the ending, but it is fulfilling nonetheless to know why it turns out the way it does.
The ending opens the doors for another sequel. With its large fanbase, this will surely be welcomed.
The music scoring helps amp up the pivotal moments in the film as well.
The CGI seems realistic too. I was particularly mesmerised by the appearance of the Shinigami named Arma. Her white skin and feathers look stunning.
Overall, I recommend this film to all. You don’t have to be a fan of the franchise to enjoy it.
Oh, this reminds me that since I’m already hooked, I need to watch the two prequels.
DEATH NOTE: LIGHT UP THE NEW WORLD
DIRECTED BY Shinsuke Sato
STARRING Masahiro Higashide, Sosuke Ikematsu, Masaki Suda, Erika Toda, Fujii Mina
DURATION 135 minutes