Sorry for the lame title. I couldn’t think of anything better.
I have been a Death Note fan for quite some time, nine years to be exact. It was my introduction to the world of manga and anime, so for that reason it holds a special place in my heart. That and it is a fantastic story with interesting characters. Heck, I’m cuddling my L plushy as I write this. I also have my own Death Note, all three of the live action movies and the two spin-off novels.
I am sure you know about the new Death Note adaptation. I for one am not happy.
By now I think you might have the impression that my problem with the adaptation is with the casting of L which seems to be the biggest talking point. You are half right, but my main problem isn’t with L but the cast as a whole. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first lets address the elephant in the room.
The role of L is being played by Keith Stanfield of Short Term 12 and Straight Outta Compton fame. At the risk of offending people, a black man.
The writer of Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba, has gone on record stating “I think of him as a quarter Japanese, a quarter English, a quarter Russian, a quarter French or Italian, like that”. So it is possible that L could be black, but he wouldn’t be the L we know and love. In every other adaptation, he has been a pale, skinny and odd looking guy. Stanfield is none of these things. L’s look is iconic in the anime community, in fact my first cosplay was L and he is my favourite character not only in Death Note but in anime overall. With the exception of Kenichi Matsuyama I have no idea who could bring L to life on screen.
The problem isn’t just Stanfield. I mean, Nat Wolff as Light, really? Who’s not so bright idea was it to cast a guy who is mostly known for romance films and teen movies to play a sociopath genius with a messiah complex?
That said, William Dafoe as Ryuk? Yes please!
What is worse is the obvious way they are making it more western.It feels like the writers don’t think that the intended western audience will be able to connect to non-western characters.
They have changed Light’s surname to Turner. Seriously, of all the western surnames you could have chosen you picked Turner. No disrespect intended if you have that name, but when I hear that name the first thing that pops into my head is Timmy Turner.
Here is the really annoying thing though, this could have worked. You could have made a western version of Death Note without annoying long term fans. You could have told an original story.
As much as I love Death Note, the story is getting old. There are three movies, an anime series, a live action series and two tours of the musical version in Japan and Korea. So why not make a fresh story? New characters, new story and new twists. Death Notes are dropped every now and then, so why not make a new story about a Shinigami dropping one in America and a new character picks it up.
This way fans can get a new Death Note story, and Netflix would have less limits and more possibilities. But alas, it was not to be.