So about a month ago, I talked about how determining if books aren’t inherently better than their film adaptations. It’s all subjective. Link to that post is here if you’d like to read it.
Today, I wanted to bring it up again because Netflix just released their live-action film adaptation of the Death Note anime. And for the unpopular theory of the day, I do not think it is bad. I’ve seen the anime and I loved it. All of my anime-watching friends loved it. Practically everyone who has seen it loved it. It’s commonly considered to be a must-watch for all anime lovers. To say that the Death Note anime is bad to any avid anime viewer would be like chastising yourself. That I understand.
Unfortunately enough, that means that any and all movie adaptations are doomed to fail. In the eyes of the vast majority, the anime was perfect. It’s true that this movie is pretty much only like the anime in the very concrete details. Everything else has been changed either drastically or subtly. For instance, Light Yagami is now Light Turner, a HUGE turnoff for most people. Or the fact that it takes place in Seattle, thankfully this doesn’t seem to be a big issue. And while I do realize that some of the performances by the lead characters weren’t always satisfying, the events of a 37-episode anime are condensed into an hour and 41 minutes. Yeah, I can give them some leeway. They had to dial everything up to 11. And yeah, some major events were altered. And I mean some really big plot points. But the way I see it, if you wanted to see something the exact same way you watched it several years ago, then just re-watch the anime. I don’t see the point in making a perfect adaptation. I know that the 2015 live-action mini-series was successful for the most part but I honestly really admire a film director’s ability to successfully pull off an adaptation just because there’s so little time, as opposed to a mini-series where you’ve got more time than you know what to do with.
I may be the only person who is interested in seeing new interpretations of things. May be the only person who doesn’t spend the entire experience comparing the two. The thing that kept me watching the film was that I actually had no idea what was going to happen next. It was a brand new experience for me. Admittedly, it was most likely due in part to the fact that I haven’t seen the original in a pretty long time. But really, I think when a director and writer go to such extreme lengths to separate the adaptation from the original by changing so much like the protagonist’s name, the setting, plot points, etc. that means they are trying to make it their own. But the endless hordes of fans won’t let that happen.
I don’t want to say that I think that movie was absolutely fantastic, because I don’t. I thought it was alright. I often found myself more intrigued by supporting roles than the leads personally. But in no way did I find the film unwatchable just because it didn’t fit perfectly into the hallowed and treasured Death Note mythos.