Death Note: Adaptation | GT068

Surprise! Another bonus episode! This time, Dave digs into anime via the new Netflix film, Death Note, which is an adaption of a well-received anime and manga of the same name. He also shares how his opinion changed after watching the first couple episodes of the anime.

This episode was sponsored by Geek Fuel! Get 25% off your first box.

I split this episode into two sections: “Before the Anime” and “After the Anime”. I wanted my opinion of the film adaptation to be as unbiased as possible, but I also wanted to share how watching some of the television show added to my opinion.

Before the Anime

Light Turner – a high school student – comes across a mysterious notebook that gives him the ability to kill anyone whose name he writes. He turns into a hidden vigilante known as “Kira”, taking down criminals one after another while a god of death named Ryuk watches him. Eventually an enigmatic detective known only by the name “L” shows up and makes it his mission to take down Kira (Light) who is now considered a mass murderer

Expectations

I had high hopes for what it could be. I didn’t know anything about the manga or anime it was based on, but the premise was extremely interesting. When a film poses the question, “What would you do with this power”, it’s hard to resist checking it out.

Reaction

I enjoyed the first half of the movie. It kept me intrigued, trying to figure out where the story would go next. The longer the movie went, the more it fell apart. There were too many unanswered questions about the overall plot, as well as some details about the characters. In the end, I didn’t really care about any of the characters except for Ryuk. He was mysterious and Willem Dafoe’s voice-over just seemed to fit him perfectly.

After the Anime

First of all, so many of the details from the anime (which I’ve only watched two episodes of so far) are left out. For starters, I’m upset that the film was (insert overused phrase) white-washed. They inexplicably moved the setting from Japan to Seattle. I understand the need to get people interested and set it in a more familiar place, but I feel like they’re alienating the audience that loved the source material.

They started the movie off with an extremely gory scene. The anime (as far as I’ve seen) hasn’t done that. I understand that they have to convey the power of the Death Note in a very short time span, but they way they did it was graphic and totally un-needed. The anime explicitly states that names written without a specific death will die of a heart attack. Why couldn’t we do that?

As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the setup for the movie. If that tone and energy had gone through the movie, I would have been much happier. Things start to fall apart when Light decides to hook up with Mia, a romance that it seems like the director/writers through in just for giggles. It doesn’t drive the story, it just makes it all the more confusing to follow in the end.

Light himself isn’t likeable, even from the start. You can almost see that the power the Death Note has will go to his head. This is different from the anime, because he honestly feels that he is doing good in the world until L comes and challenges him, then you see the morality of the character start to change. The Americanized version of Light comes off as a moody teenager, not some smart kid who happened upon a powerful book. He’s just a brat.

The ending of the movie has a bad case of sequel-itis. I cannot stand this, even if I know there is going to be a sequel, I want a full movie. Don’t just leave something unanswered until the next time we visit the world you’ve created!

Final Thoughts

I’m glad that I decided to watch the movie on Netflix, but I’m sad that I’m just now finding out about the anime. I’ve never been into anime and Death Note has me hooked – despite it all being in Japanese with English subtitles. It’s opening my eyes to better storytelling, outside of the media I would consider my norm. I’ll definitely finish the anime. Will I watch the sequel to the movie? Probably, just because I’m a mild completionist.

If you’ve watch the movie or the anime or even delved into the manga, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Death Note.

Episode Artwork by CrazyDiamond