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Death Note, the latest Netflix Original, is the reimagining of a story that, in Japan, already has 2 novels, 4 Films, a Manga series, a Television Series, 2 video games, and a mini series well established over the last decade. Of course you’re going to piss off “Internet trolls” and “Fanboys” who have no idea the undertaking of translating an original and unique story onto film that isn’t original or unique. You’re going to get harsh criticism and unrealistic comparisons to its predecessors. There is even a boycott for the “White Washing” of this story. If you watch the movie, it does not. This is a story for an American audience and casting American/non-Asian actors in this movie is just how it is. I ask the same question on social media, if there was an Asian version of the X-men, would people be upset that Storm would be an Asian and not a black person?  This is why, prior to this review, I am glad I had zero exposure to Death Note aside from a random meme that I wouldn’t understand due to my aforementioned ignorance on the subject and I could just enjoy a unique story.

Death Note

Honestly, watching Death Note with no expectations I wasn’t impressed in the opening with the cliché’s the film introduced in it’s main character, Mia, the bad girl/cheerleader who is so badass that she smokes cigarettes at practice and doesn’t participate with her team. Or the football players who ran inside the school because it started raining, football is played in all weather, dork. Mind you, these two things both happened in the first five minutes of Death Note, so I can understand why a lot of “fans” might have thrown their hands up and were quick to pull the “Red Card”. These were bad aesthetic choice and a clear sign that we are dealing with a rookie director, despite Adam Wingards years of work.  Wingard didn’t start off strong and the opening of the movie felt like he was tip-toeing into a situation too large for him to handle. However, a “yellow card” is what he deserved at best, maybe even just a whistle blow and stoppage of play. See, not all geeks are clueless about Sports. I digress, after the first head shaking 5 minutes of the film and the Death Note makes it way into Light’s hands, the film really starts to pick up speed and finally ending on a Death Note that had me wanting to see more!

I hope that Netflix continues to make more Death Note’s as the storyline of Netflix’s Death Note is EXACTLY the same as the anime series. I went back and watched it after watching Death Note. Despite the needed changes for location, Netlfix’s story takes place in Seattle, where the Anime series is based in Japan. There is a Nod regarding this in the Netflix version of the film. I won’t spoil it but if you are familiar with one, you’ll get the other. I made the connection when I was watching the animated series. The Japanese movies take a look at events prior to the “Light” Story and the Origins of “L” and other Shinigami’s and “Kira’s”

If you are totally unfamiliar with Death Note, it’s the story of a Shinigami, an ancient Japanese Death God, Ryuk, who looses his notebook on Earth. A young, good-hearted teen, Light, picks it up and discovers that whoever’s name is written in the book will die very soon after. The scriber needs to know their face, know their name, and specify the manner in which they die in order to make this all work. Light decides that he will do good and kill the bad people of the world. But there are a lot more rules in the Death Note, and a warning, which does lead for some interesting loop-holes, deadly situations, and dire consequences.

Can anyone trust a Death God? What if that Death God was Willim Defoe? Defoe plays Ryuk, the hard to look at death god with glowing eyes and sharp barbs protruding from his back and a love of apples. He’s not bad, Death is just his job, but he does love his job. Light and Mia create KIRA, Japanese for Killer, an alter ego that they can use to take credit for the murders. Light wants people to know that there is a power of good at work against evil. The people of earth begin to worship KIRA as a god, freeing them of the Evil men in the world. BUT, Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Soon Light and Mia’s love is put to the test when an eccentric special agent, “L” is hot on their trail. “L” was bred from a child’s age to be one of the world’s most leading detectives, think Sherlock Holmes meets Eleven from Stranger Things. He’s got an insane sweet tooth and severe case of insomnia too. The characters in Death Note are unique, complex, and interesting and you begin to care about the human side of them once they are exposed for being just that. It’s the lesser of two evils vs the best of a bad situation.

I highly recommend Death Note to anyone who loves horror, gore, fantasy, or anime. It embodies all of those genres and is an entertaining hour and forty minutes.