The Death Note live action trailer was recently released a few weeks ago, showcasing a new frontier for the series to explore. The movie, which is being released and produced on Netflix, is based off of the widely popular Japanese manga and anime written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Death Note follows Light Yagami, the top high school student in all of Japan, a charismatic genius who has grown bored of his life and the world around him. Luckily for him (and unluckily for many others), a notebook falls from the sky right in front of Light’s eyes, seemingly beckoning to him that he was meant to have it. As Light soon finds out, this notebook has the power to kill whoever’s name is written within it, offering an untraceable way to enact vigilante justice on who he sees deserving. He also finds out that the notebook doesn’t belong to him, but rather a God of death, or shinigami as they’re called, named Ryuk. From that point on, Death Note expands into a highly complicated game of cat and mouse headed by another genius named L to catch Light and bring him to justice. Sounds interesting right? Well it is! But this live action movie adaptation has me worried for a few reasons.
From left to right: L, Light Yagami, and Ryuk (Image source: Buzzfeed)
One of my biggest concerns after viewing the trailer had to do with Light’s costume design. In the anime, Light is portrayed as a well-dressed and charismatic genius who’s outward appearance suggests a high level of maturity and professionalism. From what the live action trailer shows us, I don’t think that this will be the case here. In the trailer, Light (Nat Wolff) looks as though he is about to try out for his towns newest punk rock band. The charismatic look just isn’t there, and that hits hard because the way Light looks is a huge part of who he is as a character. Rather than looking like the top high school student in Japan, he looks more like one of the kids that would sneak out during school lunch to smoke a cigarette next to a dumpster with his buddies while they listen to Blink 182.
I mean come on, seriously? (Image Source: Netflix)
Basically, he doesn’t look like someone who should be taken as seriously as the Light in the anime.
My other major concern has to be the setting. This adaptation of Death Note takes place in America, not Japan. This is a huge change in setting, as the original Death Note is saturated in Japanese culture and it has a substantial impact on the story. I understand the desire to “Americanize” the series as an attempt to draw in a larger audience, but I feel as though this may be pushing the limits a bit too much. The writers are going to have to come up with a magic cultural bandaid for this one. If they can’t pull it off properly then the whole story may be out of context, straying dangerously far away from part of what made the anime so great.
On the bright side, Willem Defoe is the voice of Ryuk (Imagine Source: Comingsoon.net)
At the end of the day, this is the first trailer that has been released so far and it didn’t give us a whole lot of information. I just don’t feel as though that approach worked out for them so well. The trailer leaves me with more concerns rather than excitement. I’m more at the excitedly concerned level right now, which leaves the future in a pretty uncomfortable friend-zone type situation. Who knows though, in the coming weeks more information and trailers could be released so that these holes are patched up. One can only hope.
If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out below.