Netflix’s Death Note trailer shows drastic changes to characters

Death Note Netflix
The trailer for Netflix’s Death Note is now online, and it brings the popular manga/anime to a bigger Western audience. Well, let’s just say that there are many fans who are upset about the film deviating from the source material.

We have the principal characters like L (Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield), Light Turner (The Fault in Our Stars’ Nat Wolff), and Ryuk (Willem DaFoe). It’s still staying true to the core concept of the manga where two characters are playing a game of cat and mouse. The Death Note is still able to kill anyone as long as the person knows who it is and writes their name down. Light is still the one who discovers the Death Note and becomes known as Kira. L is still tasked with taking down Light. And some of his mannerisms are intact including the way he sits. And of course, Ryuk is still a death god.

Check out the trailer below.

As for the changes according to the trailer? Oh boy, let’s get started. Light may have the same goal of wanting to be a new god as his manga counterpart. But his personality is clearly different. In the manga, he is a bright and popular student who only cares about himself. In the trailer, we get a glimpse of him wanting to save Mia (Misa in the manga). He also doesn’t care if he’s good or bad, just as long as he can create his new world. The Netflix version has him questioning himself with lines like, “We’re not the good guys anymore.”

L’s signature hairstyle is long and messy, and with the casting of Lakeith Stanfield, we get none of that. In the manga, he is a private character who acts in a very strange manner. In the Netflix version, he is seen as outspoken and isn’t afraid to do a public speech in front of many. Yes, he’s wearing a mask, but that’s something that feels out of character for someone who is trying really hard to hide his identity. In the manga, his identity is such a secret that only a few people know of his existence.

So why these changes?

“It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100 percent true to the source material, the more it just kind of fell apart,” director Adam Wingard tells IGN. “You’re in a different country, you’re in a different kind of environment, and you’re trying to also summarize a sprawling series into a two-hour-long film. For me, it became about what do these themes mean to modern day America, and how does that affect how we tell the story. Ultimately, the cat and mouse chase between Light and L, the themes of good, evil, and what’s in between the gray area. Those are the core things of Death Note, and that’s really what we went for.”

The game of cat and mouse is still central to the story. However, the director is focused on catering it to an American audience.

“In the early stages of the film I was rereading all of the manga, really just looking at, ‘How does any of this translate to the United States?’ … Ultimately, whenever I say it’s about America, I’m looking at it like, ‘What are the main kind of core issues going on in America?’ What are the things that people chalk up to conspiracy theories? What kind of weird underground programs does the government have? How do I those work into the world of Death Note?”

Wingard even acknowledges that the characters’ personalities are different.

“At its core, it’s taking the themes of who the characters are but it’s exploring them in a new context. Ultimately the personalities of the characters a quite a bit different… L isn’t the same. There are a lot of similarities — he likes candy, sometimes he romps around with his shoes off. Those kinds of things, but at the end of the day the take on L and the escalation of his character is very different. He’s still a weirdo. It’s the same for almost all the characters across the board. Probably the only character that comes off as the same way as he does in the anime is Ryuk.”

Death Note premieres on Netflix August 25, 2017.

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