VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced that it has licensed from Nippon Television (NTV) the North American theatrical and DVD distribution rights to the live-action feature film DEATH NOTE and its sequel, DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME, based on the DEATH NOTE anime and manga series which have gained massive followings in Japan and North America. VIZ Media is the exclusive North American publisher and distributor of the DEATH NOTE anime and manga series.

VIZ Pictures will open DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME in a series of special screenings at Austin’s Fantastic Fest 2007, September 20-27, and at the 2007 Vancouver Asian Film Festival, November 1-4. Theater information follows at the end of this release and future screenings will continue throughout 2008. VIZ Pictures also plans to release DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME on DVD in the summer of 2008.

“We are extremely proud to announce the license of DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME,” says Seiji Horibuchi President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “Both films were smash hits in Japan upon their initial release and the established popularity of the manga in the United States, combined with the highly anticipated debut of the anime series, will prime audiences for the excitement and tension that the live feature films bring to the story.”

DEATH NOTE is based on the hit supernatural action mystery manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The live-action film, directed by Shusuke Kaneko, known as a director of popular monster film “Gamera” series, was released in 2006 and mirrors the manga’s story of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god named Ryuk. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Both Light and L believe themselves to be on the side of justice, and the two match wits trying to show exactly which of them is “good” and which of them is “evil.”

The film’s sequel, DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME, was a hit in Japan, staying #1 for four straight weeks. While it closely followed major plot elements from the original manga series, several new key story differences were also introduced. Both films star Takeshi Kaga, who is widely known by North American audiences as the flamboyant host of TV’s Iron Chef.

Sept. 20-27: Austin, TX, Fantastic Fest 2007
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
1120 South Lamar, Austin, TX
For show times and tickets, go to

*DEATH NOTE will screen at:
Nov. 1-4: Vancouver, BC, Vancouver Asian Film Festival
For show times and tickets, go to
*Note this will only be a screening of DEATH NOTE