Thursday, July 18, 2024

Netflix’s Death Note Appears to Completely Miss the Point

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Let me start by saying my appreciation for Death Note really isn’t that grand. I enjoyed it. The mind game between Light and L was fun to watch, if logically a bit shaky. Watching Light’s ego and God complex consume him was pretty great.

The point of all this is to say that despite not being the biggest fan of the anime, this trailer disappointed me greatly. Death Note has a clear style and point this movie appears to miss entirely. Watch the trailer here and join me in the disappointment. Or don’t. Maybe you don’t feel the same way I do.

I suppose the easy explanation involves this not being a true adaptation of the anime. It has different characters and a different setting. Unfortunately that reasoning falls apart when you consider those different characters have the same names. Light Yagami is now Light Turner. L is still L. Ryuk is still Ryuk. Clearly they want to use the appeal of the anime to draw people into this version of Death Note.

This raises the question of why literally everything else seems opposite of the story that inspired it. Instead of a handsome, popular kid at the top of his class, Light has been changed to your typical bullied teen in dark, moody colors. Instead of him manipulating Misa and using her towards his immoral ends, apparently “Mia” fills the mastermind role pushing Light to darker crimes. L just goes around on camera now. There are action scenes abound.

I’m not even getting into Light retaining the “Kira” moniker, which literally should not exist for an American character considering it’s a warping of the word “killer,”or retaining a Japanese character’s name for a white character. Bless William Dafoe, his perfect Ryuk voice and laugh was the only thing to make me happy out of all this.

I hope I’m wrong about this version of Death Note. I hope the trailers are just doing what they have to in order to draw an audience in, who will then see something fitting the popular, well-regarded anime. If so, I will be the first to apologize for complaining like this.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will be the case.

Death Note releases on Netflix on August 25. The talented cast included Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley (she deserves all great things), Keith Stanfield (so does he), Paul Nakauchi, Shea Whigham, and William Dafoe.


Video and Images Courtesy of Netflix

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