Death Note: A Netflix Original film


Netflix released Death Note on 25 August. The film, directed by Adam Wingard, is an adaption of the anime series Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. The Netflix film stars Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Keith Stanfield, as the famous detective known only by his alias L, and William Dafoe as the voice of Ryuk, the death god. Death Note is a story that revolves around a mystical notebook, death note, that has deadly powers. The notebook is discovered by Light and he learns about its abilities. The death note gives Light the ability to kill anyone he wishes simply by writing their name within the notebook’s pages.

The anime series follows the daily life of the student vigilante and his journey in ridding society of its degenerates. Light chooses to use the death note to target and kill criminals that have committed atrocious crimes. Obviously all of this could not be captured in the hour and forty minute Netflix film, which got a meager rating of 4.7 out of ten on IMDb.

In the opening scenes we see Light conducting a transaction, exchanging money for homework. The scene then takes us through the motions of the typical American high school culture, including cheerleaders, American football and bullying.

The rules of the death note are still similar to those of the anime version. The first encounter between Ryuk and Light as interpreted by Netflix is chaotic. Light wasn’t expecting, while he was in detention, to find a monster hiding at the back of the class. The monster’s presence creates a vortex of chaos. Light found himself in a panic, screaming for help as the death god turned the whole place into a mess. This is severely different to the first encounter between the two in the anime version. In the original anime, Light was startled at first, but soon calmly looked the death god in the eye and says “I was expecting you.”

In the Netflix version of things Ryuk then proceeds to instruct him on how to kill his first victim. A high school bully that was harassing Light’s high school love interest. At the end, Light is paralyzed, trying to shut his eyes to block out the image of the bully’s decapitated body lying on the ground. The bully had been gruesomely killed in a freak accident right after his name was written on the death note.

In the anime version, Light did not know how he was killing his victims and that is why they started investigating him. The police also did not know how he was killing his victims, because all of them were mysteriously dying of heart attacks while in prison. Light took his time to learn the abilities of the notebook on his own.

The movie however, had some well executed details that made it thrilling to watch.. Ryuk’s character is artistically designed and he truly is terrifying. Mbongeni Ncube, a third year Law student who is an anime fanatic, said that he was disappointed with how the Netflix version chose to interpret certain elements of the original anime series. “The movie was turned into a typical tragic teenage love story with a ‘twist’ and did not stay truthful to the anime.”




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