Death Note Drama: Episode 2 Review

When dead criminals began to reach an alarming proportion, the police launched a desperate search for the murderer, with L on their side. 

Light Yagami’s gentle, mild-mannered personality also began to change. What appears to be subtle changes – more confidence and assertiveness now borders into something else, but can he handle it? Episode 2 is more about Light and less about L, and viewers like me who have seen the previous movie adaptations can’t help but feel that Masataka Kubota is not going to suffer from lack of challenging scenes, just as Tatsuya Fujiwara did in the movies.

 3 out of 5 stars

My biggest complaint in the movie version is that Fujiwara’s Light started out ‘matured’ already – it’s hard to accept someone who goes to a bar and gambles as a perfectionist with some noble ideals. 

In the current drama series, Light works at a bar and goes to school like an ordinary young man. Having the power to put someone to death is something huge for him, but as Kira corrupts him, Light is seduced by the power of the Death Note.

I am amused, no annoyed, that they cast some scruffy thirty-something guy to play the FBI agent. I don’t care about disguises, but he was so obvious following Light!

To make matters worse, the criminal who held hostages in the bus is acting over-the-top, the scene which is supposed to thrill, turned into a comedy. Ryuk is the only one capable of making me laugh, notwithstanding that he looks so artificial and fake.

Misa Amane (Hinako Sano) also gets into the action, while N (Miyo Yuki) finally makes an appearance. Overall, the excitement of the premiere episode is not sustained, or perhaps I am expecting too much?

Going back to Kubota, if you have followed his career, then you will appreciate watching him play the lead. From the time I saw him in Thirteen Assassins and The Cowards who looked up to the Sky to the more recent drama N no Tame ni, Kubota always brings something to the table – he is not your usual handsome guy – he plays dark, evil characters even. Acting with Ryuk who is so obviously fake is hard to do, but Kubota manages to establish an onscreen chemistry with this skeletal puppet.

Yamazaki’s take as L appears to be “cool” at first view. However, I am beginning to get bored. Let’s see, who is the first L and what are his characteristics?

L often uses dramatic strategies to confuse his opponents and force their hand. He eats sweet things exclusively, and is usually seen eating fruit or cake, or drinking sweetened coffee or tea. L’s behavior is also peculiar; he sits in an unusual position, always wears the same outfit, holds things extremely delicately by corners, prefers to go barefoot, and has a habit of biting his thumb…

The incredible performance of Kenichi Matsuyama is hard to duplicate, and while I appreciate watching Yamazaki doing his style – the uniqueness of the character is becoming less apparent and starting to become a caricature. I hope they will not go the “Savant syndrome” way – that would be a complete disaster.

So another god-like creature has appeared and just like in the movies, there will be confrontations coming up. 

Light and L have yet to meet face to face and while I am disappointed with Episode 2, I feel that judging a drama by episodic installment is not only dangerous, it’s faulty. After watching J-doramas for years, I have learned that before judging a drama based on the initial one to three episodes, one has to be patient and wait for the succeeding broadcasts – which is what I will do. 

I think this drama still deserves an episodic review, for the sheer fantastic performance of the leads.


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