Going into Death Note, the 2017 Netflix release, with the thought that your beloved characters from the original will remain the same, you will hate this adaptation. If you go in thinking that Light Yagami is the exact main protagonist you want in this movie, you will hate this adaptation. If you go in thinking somehow that Adam Wingard, director of 2017’s Death Note, could cram the entirety of 37 episodes worth of content into this movie, you will hate this adaptation.
2017’s adventure drama places it’s viewers into the story of Light Turner, a nerdy boy who, unlike Light Yagami, faces an exceptional amount of confrontation in his young adult years of high school. Turner uses these confrontations to fuel his desires to exterminate all who bring heartache to the world in the form of the death note. The death note, a journal in which one writes down the name of their prey, with their face in their mind, in an effort to have them die in whatever fashion the killer suggests, remains the same in this adaptation to the original manga with the exception of small minor details that no one will harp on too much. This is just about the only part in the movie that the director didn’t take liberty in altering, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and here is why:
Light Turner’s only parallels to Light Yagami is that they’re the main role that finds the death note, and that they’re both admittedly smart. This is where the adaptation starts drifting from the source material. Light Yagami is, in the anime and the manga, a robot. He has just about no dynamic feelings and is generally a static character up until the final act of the series. Although this works within the world of anime, with a large amount of main characters with this mentality, this would be a generally foolish seeming character when put into live action. Light Turner, however, is vulnerable. He is seen bullied, nerdy, and most importantly, vulnerable. This vulnerability that makes Turner much more dynamic than Yagami. This vulnerability that has Light Turner question every name he writes into his death note. The lack of confidence that even has the viewers question as each and every killing occurs, all under the name “Kira”. Yes, Light Turner is smart; but in the same breath, he is human, where Yagami is not. In an admittedly embarrassingly performed scene, Light Turner’s first reaction with the shinigami that was the past owner of the death note isn’t taken easily. Light Turner had genuine fear, trembling before this 8 foot demon in front of him. As cringeworthy and horribly performed as this scene may be, Light Yagami’s first interaction with his shinigami is even less believable, not freaking out as hard as a human being should when encountered by a real life monstrosity that is Ryuk.
When all’s said and done, Netflix’s Death Note is a different story told. Sure, generally, the story aligns to the original manga and anime in many senses, but with a new batch of genuinely dynamic characters, a whole new environment, and at times, cheesy acting, 2017’s supernatural crime story, Death Note, is one worth enjoying.