It may not be fair, but viewers know better than to get excited for a live-adaptations of anime series by now. Look no further than Ghost in the Shell, Speed Racer or *shivers* Dragonball Evolution for proof of why the community’s become so jaded.
In an attempt to be the first manga/anime-based film to work, Netflix stepped in to make a movie on the highly successful Death Note series. After months of speculation and caution, we’ve got our first look at a trailer for the Netflix original film. Aaannnddddd there are surely some things to be concerned about.
First off, let me say this. I’m not one of those people who feels that every adaptation has to stay totally true to the source material. A change in direction keeps the story fresh for a everyone and can be fully appreciated if done right. By the looks of things, Death Note won’t as some of the divergent steps are causes for concern. Namely, the depiction of Light Yagami.
Initially, a lot of people were upset about the decision to cast Keith Stanfield as L. Coincidentally, many of those same critics didn’t have a single thing to say about Nat Wolff being cast as the story’s main character, Light. [We’ll let you figure out why.] After watching the trailer, unless my skills of perception are completely skewed, there are far more problems with the latter than the former.
I’ll be honest, I despise Light Yagami. I have ever since I first watched the series and saw him slowly turn into a sociopathic serial killer with a raging god complex. But one thing I’ll never do is call Light Yagami a punk. From the very beginning of the series, he’s a cold-blooded, calculated strategist who has the ability to get pretty much anything he wants from anyone. So, imagine my surprise when Light Turner gets knocked out cold by a high school bully 15 seconds into the trailer. That’s entirely out of character.
Perhaps this is an attempt to make Light more relatable so that his turn towards darkness is more impactful. Light isn’t Walter White. He isn’t meant to be a normal dude who snowballs into sociopathy.
Does anyone else remember when Death Note first got big in the U.S. and high schools were suspending and expelling kids because they created their own death note replicas filled with the names of people they wanted to die? So far, Death Note feels like they just took one of those kids, gave them the real deal and filmed it for our entertainment.
Moving on, I really, really want Keith Stanfield to crush this role. Not only because I’m biased towards most people I share a first name with, either. If I despise Light, you can only imagine how much I root for L and his single-lettered brethren. I also want all of the “how can L be a black guy???” whiners to be forced into silence, even if just for a brief moment.
The jury’s still out, and I’m hoping that I’m wrong. But finally seeing L at length wasn’t all that exciting. I’m used to seeing a social outcast with his face three inches away from a computer screen obsessing over every piece of data possible who mostly speaks in a whisper. Not a ninja that likes to hold press conferences and raised his voice at the dinner table. But, maybe the chemistry of this new Light and L will work once we see the entire project.
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, let me say something positive about the trailer. WILLEM DAFOE AS RYUK IS GOING TO BE INCREDIBLE. We still haven’t gotten a full, unhindered look at the shinigami, but everything we’ve seen so far suggests he’s going to look incredible. And Dafoe has the ability to deliver some of the creepiest, darkest performances on the planet.
I won’t completely write off Death Note yet, especially because I actually want it to be a huge success that furthers the power of anime content. But I’m genuinely wondering if it’ll just be more of the same at this point or if I’m just missing the bigger picture here.