BY LINDSEY HANNAH
The much-beloved Japanese manga and anime series “Death Note” is the latest victim of a live-action adaptation, this time at the hands of Netflix. Though it is not set to release until August 25 of this year, the movie’s trailer has sparked upset over claims of whitewashing of the original characters and divergence from the show’s plot.
Assuming it will generally keep to the show’s storyline, the new film will follow high school student Light Turner (adapted from Light Yagami) as he discovers a book that causes the death of whoever’s name is written in it. He decides to embark on a plan to cleanse the world of criminals with this newfound power. Light will be played by “Paper Towns” star Nat Wolff and Ryuk, god of death and original owner of the Death Note, will be voiced by Willem Dafoe. Some of the other characters will appear as Americanized versions, such as Mia Sutton replacing Misa Amane and James Turner as Light’s father Soichiro Yagami.
Some have argued that while the movie will undoubtedly be received poorly if taken as an adaptation, looking at it as a highly-altered tribute makes it a potential success. While this may be true, the main question I have is a simple one: why?
Why do we feel the need to take something from another culture and cram it into our Wonder Bread mold? Are we as Americans not capable of appreciating entertainment starring characters of different ethnicities and cultures from our own? Clearly, the fans of the original “Death Note“ are able to follow the plot of a story without a white main character. So who is this adaptation really for? Don’t we have enough movies out there like this already? Is it necessary to start corrupting original ideas into yet more generic entertainment?
Where the original show is unique, starring an unrelatable sociopath and the “good guy” L being far from your typical hero, as well as featuring edge-of-your-seat suspense and thrills, this new movie (if the trailer is any indication) looks like every teen action/romance thriller that was ever made. It focuses heavily on the action and romance, which are far from the main storyline of the show, being mostly cerebral. Nat Wolff’s Light, complete with bleached hair and dumbfounded expression, fails to capture the brilliant and tortured essence of the anime’s character. The film’s trailer includes no indication that he will bear any resemblance to the original, a top student who decides to kill every criminal in the world in the hopes of elevating himself to a god-like status.
When it comes down to it, this was a movie that no one asked for. It does not add to entertainment in any way, shape or form. Rather, it has proved sufficient illustration for our capability as a society to take even the most out-there of ideas and foreign of cultures and bring them back to the same old comforting, familiar things we already see on every single channel of our televisions.
Featured image courtesy of Netflix