With all of the hype and fame the anime series “Death Note” has brought about in the hearts and minds of all anime fans, Netflix released their own live action version of the series. Can it live up?
As all fans know, the movie will never compete with the depth of the original series, but the live action did a 50/50 job in depicting the alternative storyline to the “Death Note” series.
In the live action, there are many variations. The single, most foremost complaint anyone can make against the movie is the “whitewashing” of the Japanese anime. Tokyo citizen Light Yagami is now Light Turner, an American in Seattle.
Statistics show Asian actors and actresses are the most underrepresented demographic in television, making up only 1 percent of leading roles in Hollywood. The least the producers could have done was cast an Asian protagonist to represent Light, but so it wasn’t the case.
The next most unsettling facet is the typical high school setting. As an American high school student, Light plays the standard character of the high school nerd compared to the popular student and respected honors student he played in the series.
With Light’s external portrayal was cast away by writers, to add insult to injury, Light’s character is indubitably infatuated with Mia, the popular cheerleader whose role reflects the famous model, Misa, from the series.
As all fans know, Light was a complete sociopath. He harbored no feelings for anyone except perhaps his family. He only used Mia to extort the “Death Note” from her and keep a close watch on any dangerous proceedings she might give away in relation to himself. Light is a selfish person, but not so in the series. He cares for Mia and wants to take care of her even until the end.
Although there are more obvious inconsistencies between the series and the film, the plot remains true to the core. The personalities of the two users of the Death Note live up to their original basis.
Light is the rational, avenging god, otherwise known as Kira; whereas Mia, totally encompassed by Light’s new power, is the psychotic girlfriend who would rather use the Death Note to murder anyone standing in the way to create Kira’s just world.
On the other hand, the most challenging character for the film is L. While he is the renowned genius played realistically with his uncomfortable demeanor and childlike habits, L hits the breaking point for fans, which begins the alternative ending the film aimed to reveal.
After the death of L’s overseer, Watari, who was depicted as L’s only paternal figure in the film, L loses any ounce of himself he had. Wild with emotion and keen to single-handedly take Light down himself, L chased Light through the city, causing mayhem left and right and carrying a gun.
Whether L’s bent on killing Light or just simply arresting him, this change in character is completely unlike the unathletic, calm and emotionless L fans have come to admire.
What drives home is the ending. Though fans know both L and Light die in the end, the series never captured the fitting end the movie managed to inspire.
Rather than the unsatisfying end to the series with Light killing L and then Near indirectly killing Light, the film finds a new path to their destruction.
L finally realizes the truth of the Death Note and finds a piece of the Death Note in Light’s room. Though L knows what to do, L has already stated that he does not kill people, despite the justice their death may bring. The last we see of L is the internal struggle he has with utilizing the Death Note.
It’s only fitting that L would be the one who kills Light through the same means Light has killed others. Now L will be the current caretaker of the Death Note, an irony for the opposite characters to find themselves wielding the same power.
Not every film can meet every fan’s expectations, but overall it’s not as bad as it could have been. Many fans are certainly disappointed, but all things considering, at least the core values were maintained. The Death Note will continue to cause debate for the god-factor and ideal justice.
The “Death Note” series and latest live action film can both be found on Netflix.The