margaret qualley

Netflix Death Note: My Thoughts

So the long awaited American adaptation of Death Note arrived on Netflix on Friday the 25th of August, and it’s clear to see that the reviews are certainly mixed.

Let’s just jump right in and get down to the many faults with this adaptation.

Note* This isn’t all doom and gloom, as I think there is definitely some room for appraisal. There will be many spoilers ahead but who cares, right?

Light Turner (Light Yagami):

Light is essentially a bit of a loser, taking crap from bullies and even from L. As we know from the anime, Light isn’t hesitant on throwing in a good ol’ punch to the face. Yet in this adaptation, Light seems to just accept any grief that he is presented with. In addition to this, Light appears to be a bit of a loner, as we never see him socialising with any friends. Now in the anime, whilst it wasn’t common for Light to have the boys around for a few games of Mario Kart, he was still acknowledged around school to “hang out” with other students, but he of course declined because he’s a busy bee with a rotten world to cleanse

Another point to mention regarding Netflix Light is how careless he is. At many moments throughout the movie, Light can be seen shouting about the Death Note whilst in loud conversation with Mia (Misa Amane) and he even has his Death Note out on his lap during gym class. Whereas we all know that anime Light would never do something like that. He understood the importance of keeping the Death Note hidden from absolutely everyone, and wouldn’t dare openly talk about it in public. Because why would he be so careless? He wouldn’t. This links in to Lights intelligence, or so to say, craftiness.

Netflix Light doesn’t appear to be the brains of the operation, except at a few key points towards the end of the movie. throughout the anime, Light had his head screwed on from the start, and he allowed absolutely nothing to get in his way. He also wouldn’t sacrifice the Death Note for anyone or anything (except when Sayu, but of course he had a plan to wind up getting the Death Note back) In the Netflix adaptation, it is more Mia who has true intentions for the Death Note, and it appears that Light doesn’t really have everything set in stone, as he did in the anime. I’ll elaborate more on that when I discuss Mia’s character.

A crucial key aspect to mention is that at no point did Light proclaim “I am the God of the new world”, which is severely disappointing,as anime Light genuinely believed that he was Justice, but Netflix Light just wants to be a do-gooder and be rid of the bad guys. Netflix Light also never has a psychotic moment of ranting to Ryuk, himself, or anyone for that matter. Anime Light is iconic for having random outbursts of craziness, as all great characters do, but Netflix Light is pretty chill throughout the movie, with the exception of the moments in which he thought he was about to get caught out. I just believe that it would’ve been more enjoyable for Netflix Light to have been portrayed as the Evil Genius that we know him as.

Now onto Mia Sutton (Misa Amane):

In complete contrast to Anime Misa, a cute blonde model with a slight sinister streak, Mia Sutton is a dark haired edgy cheerleader who smokes (see? bad habits = bad movie) In a weird way, from watching Mia, I got the feeling that she was more suited to be Light Yagami than what Netflix Light was. Let me explain: At the beginning of the movie, Mia is the typical semi-popular good looking cheerleader. However, the look on her face is like a constant expression of boredom, similar to anime Light at the beginning. When Mia discovers the power of Lights Death Note, she is the one who is more keen on changing the world, as though it was her all along who has been “bored” of how things have been working out in the legal system, and as though she is the one with the real desire to be rid of all criminals in the world. This includes the lives of innocents who stand in her way.

The key difference between Mia and Misa is that Mia’s drive to use the Death Note is for her own personal desire, and she is very willing to throw Light under the bus, as revealed when she wrote his name in the notebook and promised to burn it so long as he gave her ownership of it. Whereas Misa on the other hand done everything under Lights instruction, and wouldn’t dare step out of line. This can be said to be because Misa was infatuated with Light, therefore her use of the Death Note was to assist him. If anything, Mia is more problematic to Light, despite being clever, that what Misa was.

This adaptation really spun things around for Misa’s character, as it conveyed Mia as intelligent, and only looking out for herself. I suppose this is only considered a fault if you prefer the original Misa.

Furthermore, the relationship between Light and Mia is also in stark contrast to Light and Misa. Netflix Light appears to be genuinely in love with Mia, and it actually seems that he is more interested in her than what she is with him, as we can assume she is only in it for the Death Note. Anime Light has zero romantic attraction to Misa, and only kept her safe as he was under threat from Rem. If it wasn’t for that, Light would’ve disposed of Misa in a heartbeat in order to make matters less problematic for himself. And yes, whilst we can say “but Netflix Light wrote Mia’s name in the Death Note” I don’t believe that was his intention from the start. I think he genuinely loved Mia, but upon realising that she was going behind his back and eventually holding his life against him, he had to fight back.

Another cringe detail on Mia and Lights relationship is how edgy and quirky they are. Their relationship is portrayed as slightly darker than anime Light and Misa. For example, they “make out” whilst writing names in the notebook. Honestly, how twisted does one have to be to get in the mood whilst killing people? In addition to their edge & quirk, Netflix Light has a “normal people scare me” picture in his locker, next to a picture of the two of them, Light and Mia. C'mon guys, only the edgiest of teens own American Horror Story merchandise. Having said that, I do see a slight resemblance between Netflix Light and Mia to Evan Peters and Emma Roberts… Oh, not to mention their edgy homecoming pictures. Choking? Very edgy indeed.

Now onto L:

Whilst my thoughts on L may be bias, as he is my favourite character in the anime and the movie, I am able to acknowledge his faults. Let’s start with his irrationality. For the beginning of the movie, Netflix L appeared to walk in similar footsteps to that of anime L, with some minor changes such as the way in which he addressed Kira during a press release, and confronted Light in a cafe of sorts. However, the calm and collected demeanour suddenly shifts after Watari’s disappearance, when L begins to panic. Instead of taking a rational approach, as anime L would, Netflix L decides to let his emotions get the better of him, and carries out a series of irrational behaviours: starting with almost assaulting Light at his house, before being stopped by a poorly portrayed Soichiro Yagami (but more on that later), then onto stealing a police car and, whilst being armed with a gun, recklessly chases after Light, and then attempts to shoot him. As we have witnessed in the anime, L isn’t keen on moving around much, so this adaptation was probably a bit too quick and fast to suit anime L. Another mistake Netflix L makes is announcing to a bystander that he is a detective and Light is Kira, and that’s why he’s pointing a gun at him. Of course, L is ultimately struck down by this bystander, allowing Light to escape. What was disappointing about this was that anime L would’ve known that virtually anyone could be a Kira supporter, and would’ve done anything to protect who they thought was Kira, so the real rational minded L wouldn’t have made that announcement. To be fair, the real rational minded L wouldn’t have been having a physical showdown with Kira in the back alley of a restaurant in the first place.

My final kick at Netflix L is that he’s a bit of a crybaby, very much unlike anime L. Throughout the movie, Netflix L is shown to be very passionate about justice and all that business, but he seems a little /too/ passionate. He is even seen to be crying at the end of the movie, which we know is very uncommon for the original L. This can be perceived to make L look weak, and sort of as though he’s lost the “war”.

In conclusion to Netflix L, this adaptation managed to maintain his quirks and mannerisms, however I do believe that he was made to be more emotional, which I guess is a good thing as we get to see that he is a real human.

Ok so here’s a lil list of various other flaws that aren’t necessarily worth making a big rant about:

.Watari’s name is Watari, and not an alias. This made it easy for Light (well technically Mia) to kill him.

.Wammy’s house has a different name, and it’s also dead. The orphanage has been abandoned and it just looks sad.

.The guy who played the guy who’s supposed to be Soichiro Yagami (cba learning the names) was not the best at all. His performance was so dry and pretty much annoying. The real daddy yagami wouldn’t stand for this.

.There is no Mello, Near, Matt, or any of the task force.

.Lights mum is dead and there isn’t a little sister who can’t do quadratic equations.

.Everything seems to move a bit too fast in the film, so I think that if you weren’t familiar with Death Note, then you’d probably be confused as to what’s happening.

.Ryuk isn’t that thing in the corner that laughs maniacally and makes the odd quip. Instead, he’s quite keen on making Light give up the Death Note, as he can see the trouble it’s causing. Anime Ryuk is preferable as he thrived off the chaos, which made his character more appealing.

There are most likely many more but I feel like I’ve dug deep enough.

I have to admit, the soundtrack for the Netflix adaptation was actually really good

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Even if you’re looking forward to the movie, you have to admit this is pretty amusing.

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We’ve got a new trailer everyone! Be sure to watch if you’re interested. Or don’t watch if you hate the idea of an American version and are afraid you’ll be emotionally scarred. Either works.