Death Note: Light Up the New World (“Light Up the New World“) is a live-action Japanese film that is a sequel to the two original Death Note live-action films (“Death Note“) based on the popular manga and anime series.
Light Up the New World takes place 10 years after the events of Death Note, in which a notebook with supernatural capabilities, dubbed the ‘death note’, enabled a young man, Light Yagami, to take on the role of judge, jury and executioner, earning him the nickname ‘Kira’ (or killer). Now, a decade later, six more death notes were released into the world by order of the God of Death a.k.a the Reaper King, for the sole purpose of finding a new Kira, having been fascinated with Light’s killing spree. With six new death notes on the loose comes a series of mass murders, resulting in the creation of a new, specialised police task force to deal with the death note killings. Within the task force are three important characters, Tsukuru Mishima, the leader of the task force, Ryuzaki, the successor to the great investigator, L, who was the lead investigator hunting down the original Kira (Light Yagami), and Tōta Matsuda, the only remaining member of the original task force who had worked alongside L.
The premise of the film is as intriguing as Death Note, as nothing is revealed early on, with audiences knowing only as much as the members of the task force, with little clues and hints dropped to suggest Light Yagami’s return. The suspense and thrill in which the story unfolds keeps audiences engaged and on their toes, sparking feelings of excitement over solving the new Kira mystery alongside the death note task force.
The human characters in this film each have their own unique link to the original players in Death Note, however, none manage to surpass and outshine the brilliance that was Light and L. Yes, they were manipulative, intelligent and had their own unique identities, but none managed to dominate the screen and demand attention the way Light and L did. Instead, it were the reapers (or Shinigami) which took centre stage in this film, more so than in the previous two films.
Ryuk, the notable Shinigami whose death note was picked up by Light, returns with far more screen time in this film, albeit being more menacing than witty; perhaps it was the lack of apples. Alongside Ryuk, we are also introduced to other Shinigamis, each with their own special characteristics and physical traits. The more screen time given to Shinigamis in this film is what really aided my enjoyment of this film, as we are given the opportunity to learn more about the realm of death and the rules of the death note.
Visually, the film was dark, grim and full of bloodshed, as it should be for a supernatural thriller. This film certainly wasn’t afraid to up the body count as the number of murders increased. In contrast to the previous films, Light Up The New World also included a lot more gun fire and explosions, which only added to the visual spectacle that was the final few scenes of the film.
On the note of the final few scenes, one aspect of the film that certainly put me off was the way in which the story was dragged out initially and then rushed toward the end with a reveal that seemed almost out of place. Looking back, it felt as if the writers hadn’t planned out the film in its entirety prior to filming and simply went with the flow. There were several moments throughout the film where I felt as though the film could wrap up and end, but instead kept on going. The final scene felt messy and slightly unnatural. Perhaps I had too high an expectation and hoped the film would follow a similar style to the original films. Nevertheless, I sat through the entirety of the film without once thinking of leaving. Had it not been for the relationship each character had with the original characters in Death Note and the added screen time for the Shinigamis, I probably would have left early.
Light Up The New World may be a sequel to Death Note and certainly had the right idea but unfortunately attempted too much, leading to a film that became far too complicated. With a plot that started off as intriguing and engaged audiences, the film did provide entertainment, that is, until it began to rush to a conclusion after dragging out the plot unnecessarily. An entertaining watch for Death Note fans, this film is still worth watching, but certainly not more than once.