If you don’t know what the original manga, anime, and live action movies called Death Note is, google it.
In the original manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, the storyline gets complicated. The anime release of the manga follows closely to the original manga’s complicated and interesting story.
The 2006 live action movies called “Death Note” and “Death Note: The Last Name” followed with the original manga story. Because the story was split into two movies each movie being an hour and a half long each, there was time to add in as much background and character developstorywith details as possible. I especially loved how closely related to the manga the famous detective “L” was between the manga and the 2 live action movies. Light Yagami was cool too! At least the Japanese movies followed the story with the manga. The anime was good too. They even split the story into the 2 movies at a good point, when the first movie ended with “Kira 1” and the second movie began with “Kira 2”. Even the Shinigami names for Ryuk and Rem stayed alongside the manga.
As for the American version of Death Note released on Netflix in 2017, a lot was changed and not just the location of the story. While the anime and manga showed Light Yagami in a well functioning family, that basic foundation was missing in the 2017 Death Note American version. It’s disturbing how a “regular family” was not shown in the Americanized movie considering how “Americanized” they tried to set this movie as. Light Yagami’s name was changed to Light Turner to sound more “American”. Instead of the Yagami (Turner) family being Light, his mom, and his sister with his dad as a workaholic yet respectable police officer, in the 2017 Death Note American version, Light has no siblings making him an only child, his mom’s dead, and his dad is an unrespected cop absolutely no one likes who stills seems to be a workaholic. While the Japanese Light Yagami was a good-grades student who was shown as a good school role model, the American Light Turn was aschoolwho got caught being paid to do other students’ homework and ended up in trouble. A lot. Wow. Pathetic. It’s one thing to trim the “Turner” family to seem “American” but not every family has a dead parent, a loser student. or workaholic loner.
The start of the story is located not in Japan, but in …. Seattle, Washington. You know, the same setting as another movie already released this year. I’ll give you a hint: billionaire business man. 😉
The entire time I’m watching this Death Note reset in America movie, the only thing I’m thinking is “How has Light not run into Anastasia Steele or Kate or Christian Grey?” LOL The city’s big, but it’s not so big that no one can run into each other.
Also, the police are useless during the investigation into “Kira”. Despite the logic of “L” following Light Turner around and cameras in the Turner’s home, there’s no phone tapping, no background investigations into potential suspects, nothing! In a world of online social networks and GPS locating, it should at least be easier to pinpoint a suspect like Light. In the Japanes live action movies, Light Yagami had to ignore Ryuk and pretend like his life was dull. In the American movie, that was easily dismissed. No one bothered to wonder “Odd…Light sure is eating a ton more apples that humanly possible.” Light Turner texts his “girlfriend” and gets a phone call from “L’s” friend, but no one who is actually tracking him finds this out. About “L”: he seems to randomly figure out that Light is “Kira”. There’s no investigation into how “L” came to his conclusions, no foreshadow to his logic, and nothing makes any sense. How does “L” end up suspecting Kira was in the U.S. if he was still in Japan? (There is a tiny scene that hints L hopped a plane from Japan to America.) Did “L” get a magic premonition about Kira’s potential location? Did another Shinigami tell him?
After the runaround, Light (Kira), kills L’s friend. In the 2 part Japanese movies, L responds with emotional but calculated strategy to catch Light after L’s friend is targeted. In the 2017 movie, L just retrieves a gun that had not been previously revealed (so basically he’s just lugging a gun around in a gigantic suitcase for no reason and no one seems to wonder why), steals a police car that just happens to be unlocked, and magically catches Light Turner in an alley after running after him for several blocks. After cornering Light in an alley, a random person not seen before just happens to help “Kira” after L says he’s a detective with the local police by hitting L in the back of the head. The popularity of Kira doesn’t spread as vast in this American movie as Kira’s popularity was in the 2-part movies based in Japan. So some random guy just happens to be in the alley after L hunts Light down, and the random guy just happens to be a fan of Kira?
While the anime, the manga, and the 2-part movies explained Light’s girlfriend’s death as a purpose that helped the story progress, the American movie basically killed Light’s girlfriend, saved Light, and Light ends up safe in a “coma” in the hospital. Oh! By the way, Light’s girlfriend just happened to die. L is kicked off the police force investigation team for everything he did (makes sense), but nothing is shown as to where he had gone. Light reveals everything to his dad the cop, but nothing bad comes of it. In fact, his dad seems glad if not relieved that the bad guy who killed his wife was dead and Light is the infamous Kira. In the 2-part Japanese movies, Light Yagami’s dad was surprised that Light was even a part of the entire Kira ordeal. His dad was pissed and understandably so. In the American version, Light’s dad basically just shrugs it off.
Another annoying change in the American version was that when a random person touched the Death Note, Ryuk was not seen by said person. Normally, if a person touched the Death Note, the Shinigami was revealed. Wasn’t that a rule in the Death Note? Other rules inside the Death Note seemed to be ignored or bent by the characters of the story besides that. The “handing the Death Note to a new person” rule was bent or removed as if the Death Note had rules but nothing applied to anyone. As far as I figured, whoever will be the “Misa Amane” and Misa’s Shinigami Rem will appear after the cliffhanger to the American movie. Unfortunately, there’s no foreshadow to Misa coming into the storyline or that there are any other Shinigami besides Ryuk so to put Misa and Rem into the story will be difficult.
Overall, this was an OK attempt for an American re-release, but some things didn’t fit or make sense in this. The graphics seemed OK, not the best, but at least Ryuk kept his original name.