Why can’t anime just stay anime? ‘Death Note’ is Netflix’s biggest flop yet
For all the anime lovers out there, this one’s for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I was actually rooting for Netflix’s film Death Note to do some type of justice to the anime genre. Even after finding out that the setting would take place in Seattle instead of its original setting in Japan, I still had some type of hope.
Even after talks about the film being whitewashed, I still expected it to be somewhat watchable. Huge mistake.
The manga Death Note, created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, tells a story about a high school student named Light Yagami who finds a notebook lying on the floor.
The note, called the Death Note, has the ability to kill anyone simply by having a name written down. As the self-righteous person that he is, Light decides to take action and rids the world of evil by murdering those who deserve punishment.
However, it’s not long before the police catch on and soon the world’s best detective, who goes by the name L, decides to also pursue the case. Basically, the story is a cat and mouse game and though you know that the real antagonist is Light, you can’t help but to root for him while he tries to uncover L’s identity and erase him from existence.
Though the original series had a few complicated storylines at times, the content was all there. There was a script to be followed and all one needed to do was pick up the mangas and just go off on that. In 2006, a live action film was brought to life and premiered in Japan, along with a second part and a few other spin-offs.
Though it was not big here in the States, it did fairly well back home and it also did well in following the story arc. Netflix had all the necessary tools to make something truly unique but instead we got this.
Directed by Adam Wingard and starring Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, and Margaret Qualley, the film begins with Light Turner, a high school student encountering a book called the Death Note. So far, so good.
He is visited by the owner of the book, a shinigami (god of Death) named Ryuk. And that’s where everything just goes to sh*t. What made this movie especially hard to watch was that they made it seem to be a teenage love drama with a little murder thrown on the side… not what true anime fans wanted.
These laughable and unassuming characters make this film less interesting to watch, especially for those avid fans who know about their origins.
The plot sort of followed the manga but with the many twists and turns, it was just all over the place and hard to keep up.
Not even what seemed to be the saving grace, the casting of Willem Dafoe as Ryuk, couldn’t help this disaster of an adaptation. IGN’s review states,
“This is not a one-to-one adaptation of the manga, and the movie only offers partial closure for the story, perhaps leaving the door open for a potential sequel.
“What’s frustrating is that with better lead performers and a tighter script, Wingard could have made a great adaptation. Instead it settles when it should have soared.”
Over at Rotten Tomatoes, they gave the film a 42% rating, stating, “Death Note benefits from director Adam Wingard’s distinctive eye and a talented cast, but they aren’t enough to overcome a fatally overcrowded canvas.”
We remember the sh*tshow we got a long while back when the brilliant folks at 20th Century Fox decided to turn Dragon Ball into a live-action adaptation and how incredibly bad it turned out to be.
Not that long ago the release of Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, saw a lot of bad reception due to flawed casting and steering away from the source material.
It’s not that we don’t like our favorite animes to be turned into live action movies but it requires a lot of focus and a ton of research to get things right.
Hopefully, I don’t get my name written down on any Death Notes out there for this article.