Once I heard that the anime Death Note was getting a live-action adaptation on Netflix, I decided to view the original anime series. At first, I was hesitant to watch it because I thought much of the focus would be on the punishments “dished out” on other people through the Death Note adding to the horror aspect of the show. However, I was pleasantly surprised because much of the show’s core was the battle of wits between L& Light. L is my favorite character out of the two.
I spent the whole afternoon viewing the Death Note live-action film and it enraged me. The movie felt rushed, clichéd and disregarded the source material. I found more negative points to talk about than positive points. I tried to give the film a fair chance but I couldn’t take it anymore so I stopped watching it once the credits started to roll. If Netflix wanted to adapt this, maybe it could’ve worked as a series since it could flesh out the plot and characters more. Oh well.
#1. Getting Willem Defoe to portray Ryuk was a good choice. His scenes were fun but his dialogue could’ve been better. It’s a shame that he didn’t play much of a role in this film unlike the anime.
#2. I admire the attention to detail for the Death Note. It looks like a near replica of the actual Death Note from the anime including the old script writing inside the book. In addition, people use different techniques for killing victims instead of the usual heart attack as seen in the anime.
#3. I can see how people would look up to Kira as some sort of savior because he’s a death god (Shinigami). He can inspire change to happen with a single pen stroke and expect immediate results to happen unlike politicians and the police.
#4. I enjoyed how the film had actual newspapers report on Kira like some sort of celebrity. It added a small touch of legitimacy to Kira as an influential figure.
#5. I liked the inclusion of a fan website created in honor of Kira called ” Justice for the Dead”. In real life, Kira would get a website similar to that since he’d be treated as a celebrity.
#6. The portrayal of Watari in this adaptation was almost spot on. I’m glad that an actual Japanese actor nabbed the role.
#7. I got excited when L’s symbol from the anime came up while his identity was still shrouded in mystery because it was similar to the anime scene.
#8. It would make sense that there would be a spike in crime rates during Kira’s absence since Kira is the one eliminating crime by punishing people who commit evil deeds. Without him, crime would continue uninterrupted.
#1. The plotline was condensed from this complex/psychological battle of wits to this bland and clichéd plotline. According to IMDB, the plot is this,
“A highschool student named Light Turner discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages, and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals”.
#2. Light and Misa were too much out of character. In the anime, Light is an intelligent and charming young man who carefully plans out his next move with the Death Note. He uses Misa as a pawn to carry out his schemes. He doesn’t actually like her romantically as Misa does with him. However in the live-action film, Light is characterized as this edgy/ angsty nerd who only catches the eye of the head cheerleader (Mia) after obtaining the Death Note from Ryuk. Not to mention that during his first meeting with Ryuk, he screams in terror as opposed to Light’s calm/composed demeanor in the anime.
Mia seems to be more of the mastermind behind the Death Note rather than Light. I wonder why they didn’t just make her the main character instead of Light. She was controlling, manipulative, and vindictive. Even though, she was an “airhead” in the anime, at least I felt sorry for her. She deserves someone better than Light who will actually give her the care, attention, and affection that she desires.
#3 Initial hesitation to watch Death Note (anime): My first impression was that the killing methods would be brutal and graphic to my utter surprise and relief that wasn’t the case. In the anime the game of wits between L& Light was emphasized rather than the annihilation sequences. In the Netflix live-action film, The murder scenes were graphic and nightmare-inducing with brutal and realistic depictions of decapitation which have left me mentally scarred for life.
In addition there was a scene where a group of people committed suicide by jumping off a building which shows their bodies hit the ground with a splat. This scene disrespects and pays no sensitivity to the issue of “suicide”. Adding the cartoonish “splat” sound at the end treats the deaths as meaningless.
#4. L ‘s early reveal: The Netflix film made the clear error of revealing “L” too early. L from the anime would never hold a public announcement in person. Instead, he’d send an audio recording which disguises his voice so his identity will be kept a secret. It ruins the tension-building suspense set up with his character by showing him immediately.
#5. Dark, grim, and rainy atmosphere. In the anime, even though the show could get dark at times, the backgrounds were colorful and vibrant and sometimes the atmosphere was calm and mellow whereas in the Netflix film, the atmosphere resembled that of a moody brooding teenager”, with its darkness and gloom.
#6. Dynamic between L& Light missing. The main selling point besides the Death Note itself is the game of wits between L& Light since both are evenly matched in intelligence.
It’s quite exciting and fun to see these two go up against each other and witness who comes out on top. The Netflix film missed out on this detail because there aren’t many interactions between L& Light in this iteration. Only a couple of scenes have them face-to face with each other talking. Also in this version, L& Light don’t seem to be intellectual equals, L is seen to be superior to Light in intelligence so it’s already given who will win.
#7 Near the end, Light Turner is trying to save Mia from falling off of the Ferris Wheel which is supposed to be a dramatic moment so there should be zero background sounds.
As it happens, a song starts playing in the background otherwise interrupting what should-be a dramatic scene. Despite my dislike of these characters, the mood should’ve been quiet in order for the drama to play out.
The Netflix Death Note movie fails to understand and capture the spark of the original source material while also misrepresenting a few of its main characters. I couldn’t wait to stop the movie once it ended. I had to listen to music from the Death Note anime just to get the horrible taste out of my mouth. I tried giving this film the benefit of the doubt but it didn’t deserve it at all. As an introduction for non-anime fans, you’re better off watching the anime series or reading the manga. AVOID THIS FILM AT ALL COSTS!