Death Note is probably one of my favorite manga/anime of all time. I was easily captivated by the story of Light Yagami and his at first noble quest that quickly devolved into terror and the human game of chess that ensues to capture him and stop his villainous ways. So imagine my surprise to find out Netflix was doing a live-action version. I was a little shocked. We have multiple live-action versions from Japan and they’re all wonderful. So with trepidation and the courage of Kira in me, I watched the trailer.
I’m not sold.
Light Yagami in the anime/manga is a charismatic sociopath, that’s what makes his character so great. Light Turner as he’s known in the American live-action is just another angsty vaguely annoying teen. He lacks Light’s wise intellect and charm that almost just almost made his atrocities okay. Ryuk’s design to the trailer’s credit is wonderful and I think Willem Dafoe can handle it. He was a great actor in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. L…let’s discuss L. Amazingly, many people have been rather kind to a canonically white character being played by a black actor and I have no issue with this. I do take umbrage with how almost normal they’re playing L. L is such an out there character. His quirks and mannerisms made him so unique and the perfect match to Light. Toning him down is just disappointing.
A lot of my concerns are usually laughed off because it’s “a new adaptation” but what surprises me is how many people who didn’t have a basis in the anime or manga think this trailer looks wonderful while fans are sitting in their respective fan corners clutching their Death Notes. Or maybe that was just me. I clutched my personal Death Note that I use for cosplay.
I’m cautiously optimistic for that very reason about this series. A lot of non-fans of the anime could be brought in and what I hope is that they make their way to the anime/manga. And we anime and manga fans have great live-action movies, the anime, the manga and the fantastic and underrated novels to keep us quiet while the rest of Kira’s followers howl for their savior to return.