Friday’s big Netflix premiere was the English adaptation of the anime/manga Death Note, a project already marred with controversy due to claims the film “white washes” the iconic story. While the original manga and anime garnered plenty of fans upon its release, even prompting its own live-action Japanese adaptation, those same fans are not pleased with how the story has been translated for American audiences. The problems with Netflix’s Death Note actually stretch further than just casting white actors as characters that were originally Japanese. Much like the Ghost In The Shell adaptation with Scarlett Johansson, the film itself seems to avoid many of the things that made its source material worthwhile for fans.
So while the film does transplant its characters to Seattle and switches their race, fans seem to be more upset with how this movie treats its story and characters. While some are quick to give Adam Wingard credit for adapting a difficult property, others would rather the film not exist at all it seems.
The general reaction differs from Wingard’s take on the series, noting that it can be translated to any culture in an interview with The Verge:
I think there’s an aspect to this film that is very American, in the sense that we’re a country that always seems to think we’re number one, and that it’s our responsibility to police the world. Light Turner, in a lot of ways, represents that concept. He thinks he has the moral high ground. He’s read that North Korea’s bad, so he goes after a North Korean general. He’s read about ISIS, so he blows up an ISIS camp. But really, at the end of the day, just like other American things, he really doesn’t know anything about anything, because he’s just a high-school kid. He’s kind of the embodiment of the CIA and the American military. That’s the cool thing about Death Note. It can be translated in different ways and still retain its core values. It has a different context when you put it in different places. But it has significant relevance I think, especially when you put it into America, especially now.
For most complaints, be it a review or a post online, fans don’t seem to agree. First they have issues with the complete 180 turn for Light in Netflix’s adaptation, turning him from a popular/genius/psychopath into a good person.
Others just seemed generally frustrated with what they were seeing on their televisions:
And plenty of folks were thrown off by some of the sillier moments — and the lack of the ONE silly moment they really wanted.
So it seems you can chalk Netflix’s adaptation up as another attempt in failure to bring an anime/manga to film — although a bit more successful and true to its source material than something like Dragonball: Evolution.
(Via The Verge)