Death Note 2017: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Netflix Adaptation

Death Note 2017 is a poorly received live-action adaptation of the popular anime and manga series Death Note, released on Netflix. The film differs greatly from the source material and has been criticized for whitewashing and weak character development.

The Death Note franchise has a massive following due to its complex characters, intricate storyline, and underlying philosophical themes of morality and justice. However, the 2017 live-action adaptation failed to capture the essence of the original series, and instead opted for a generic Americanized version that was devoid of any depth or substance. The film was marred by criticism, controversy, and poor reviews.

Title: Death Note 2017: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Netflix Adaptation


The Good

Cast and character portrayals

Death Note 2017 is a movie adaptation of the popular manga series of the same name. While there seems to be a mixed reaction to the movie among fans, one thing that everyone agrees upon is that the cast and character portrayals in the movie are stunning. Here are some of the key highlights:

  • Nat Wolff, who plays the protagonist Light Turner, gives a fantastic performance and manages to bring his character to life.

  • Lakeith Stanfield as the enigmatic and mysterious L is a standout performance and adds a unique touch to the previously seen character.

  • Willem Dafoe as the voice actor for Ryuk delivers as expected with the peculiar voice of the Shinigami.

Film production aspects (cinematography, special effects, etc.)

The film production aspects, especially the cinematography and the special effects, are some of the key strengths of Death Note 2017. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The cinematography and the visual execution of the movie are breathtaking and do justice to the source material.

  • The special effects are top-notch, and the Shinigami, Ryuk, looks menacing and life-like.

  • The movie’s soundtrack adds to the overall aesthetic, creating a creepy and eerie atmosphere that compliments the source material.

Comparison to the original source material

One of the most challenging things about adapting a beloved source material is to do it justice. That was the case with Death Note 2017. Here are some of the ways the movie compares to the original source material:

  • Death Note 2017 takes a different approach to the original source material and sets the story in America, making it more relatable to the local audience.

  • Instead of following the same storyline as the manga and anime series, the film takes a different direction and introduces new characters and plot points, keeping the audience entertained till the end.

  • While some fans of the original source material might feel underwhelmed by the changes, the movie stands on its own with its unique approach and execution.

How Death Note 2017 expands on the lore of the Death Note universe

Death Note 2017 introduces new characters, plot points, and storylines, expanding the lore of the Death Note universe beyond its original scope. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The movie focuses on the characters’ morality and explores what someone would do if they had control over life and death, which is a common theme in the original source material.

  • The Shinigami, Ryuk, gets more screen time in Death Note 2017, expanding on the character’s lore and backstory, which is something that was not possible in the original source material due to time constraints.

  • The ending of the movie leaves the possibility of a sequel or future installments, expanding the Death Note universe and opening up new storylines for exploration.

The Bad

Changes to the original plot and characters

The screenplay of Death Note 2017 took significant liberties in altering the original plot and characters. While it is not uncommon for adaptations to make changes, the extent of the modifications was a major concern for fans. Here are some of the noticeable changes in the new adaptation:

  • The setting was moved from Japan to Seattle, which resulted in a significant deviation from the original Japanese culture.

  • The protagonist Light Yagami, who was a highly intelligent student in the manga and anime, became a disaffected teenager in the movie.

  • The antagonist, L, didn’t retain any of his quirky and eccentric personality traits from the original series, which left many fans disappointed.

Appropriation and whitewashing of characters and settings

The casting choices for Death Note 2017 also caused a lot of controversy in the community. While Japanese actors played some of the characters, the main roles of Light, L, and Misa Amane were given to Caucasian actors. This move was highly criticized by many for whitewashing the characters and appropriating Japanese culture.

Inconsistent pacing and tone

Another problem with Death Note 2017 was its inconsistent pacing and tone. The film quickly moves from one scene to another, making it difficult for viewers to connect with the story or the characters. Additionally, while the film attempts to have a dark and serious tone, it sometimes shifts to an awkward humor that does not land well with the audience.

Lack of depth and development in the main characters

The main characters of Death Note 2017 also suffered from poor writing, which left little room for growth or development. The lead character, Light, lacks the cunning and strategic abilities he manifests in the original manga and anime. The same goes for L, who is portrayed as a generic detective and misses the highly intricate characteristics from the source material. Misa Amane was one of the most interesting female characters in the original series, but in the movie, she’s reduced to a mere pawn in the game of cat and mouse. Death Note 2017 faced numerous criticisms for its deviations from the original series, poor character development, and inappropriate casting choices. The film failed to capture the essence of the anime and manga, making it one of the biggest disappointments for fans of the franchise.

The Ugly

Reaction to the controversial ending

The ending of Death Note 2017 proved to be quite divisive, with the film’s climax differing significantly from the source material. Here are some key takeaways:

  • The film’s ending was changed to give more closure for the main characters, despite being much different from the original ending in the manga and anime.

  • Some viewers criticized the change as being disrespectful to the source material and ignoring the complexity of the original ending.

  • Others appreciated the changes as they felt it brought the story full circle and provided a more satisfying conclusion.

Reception from die-hard fans compared to those new to the Death Note franchise

The Death Note franchise has a dedicated fanbase, and many die-hard fans were disappointed with the 2017 adaptation. Here’s what we’ve gathered:

  • Those who were unfamiliar with the source material tended to enjoy the film for its unique story and thrilling moments.

  • Die-hard fans of the franchise criticized the film for its numerous changes from the manga and anime, including the characterization of key figures and depiction of the Shinigami.

  • Fans felt that the adaptation strayed too far from the original story and failed to capture the same level of psychological complexity.

Perception of the use of violence and killing in Death Note 2017

The Death Note franchise is notoriously dark and violent, and the live-action adaptation faced criticism for its portrayal of violence. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Some viewers found the film’s violence excessive and gratuitous.

  • Others appreciated the dark and gritty portrayal, feeling that it added to the overall atmosphere of the story.

  • Some felt that the film shied away from the more complex ethical dilemmas around the use of the Death Note and the morality of killing.

General criticisms and negative reviews of the film

Overall, Death Note 2017 received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Here are some of the most common criticisms:

  • Many felt that the film was poorly paced and failed to capture the nuance and complexity of the original story.

  • The change of setting from Japan to the US was also a point of contention for many viewers.

  • The casting of non-Asian actors for key roles also faced backlash, with some fans accusing the film of whitewashing.

Analysis and Critique

Comparison to other anime and manga adaptations

  • The film’s director, Adam Wingard, took a lot of creative liberties with the original source material.

  • The film deviated heavily from the original plot and characterizations, resulting in widespread criticism from fans of the series.

  • Comparisons have been made to other anime and manga adaptations, such as Dragonball Evolution and Ghost in the Shell, which also faced similar criticism for their significant departures from the source material.

Discussion of how Death Note 2017 fits into the larger trend of Hollywood adaptations of Japanese media

  • Hollywood has a history of taking successful Japanese media and adapting it for a Western audience.

  • However, these adaptations have often faced backlash for their whitewashing of characters and cultural appropriation.

  • Death Note 2017 is no exception, with several of its main characters being portrayed by white actors and the setting being changed from Japan to Seattle.

Debate over whether the adaptation should have even been made

  • Many fans of the original Death Note series felt that the adaptation was unnecessary and that the story should have remained in its original form.

  • Others argued that adaptations can bring new life to beloved stories and that different interpretations can be exciting and interesting.

  • Regardless of where one falls on this particular debate, it’s clear that Death Note 2017 missed the mark for many of its viewers.

Critique of Netflix’s handling of the controversy and marketing of the film

  • Netflix faced significant backlash over the casting choices made for the film, as well as the decision to set the story in Seattle rather than Japan.

  • Rather than addressing these concerns head-on, Netflix has remained largely silent on the matter, which has only served to escalate tensions and further fuel the controversy.

  • Additionally, many fans of the original series took issue with the marketing and promotion of the film, which they felt misrepresented the original story and characters.

Death Note 2017 was a highly anticipated but ultimately disappointing film adaptation of the beloved manga and anime series. Creative liberties taken by the filmmakers, as well as the controversial casting choices and change in setting, contributed to the film’s lackluster performance. While Hollywood adaptations of Japanese media can bring new life to beloved stories, it’s clear that Death Note 2017 missed the mark. Netflix’s handling of the controversy surrounding the film only added fuel to the fire and left many fans feeling unheard and disrespected.

Netflix's TERRIBLE Death Note Adaptation… (Is Coming Back!)


Death Note 2017 was an adaptation of the popular Japanese anime, Death Note. The film was directed by Adam Wingard and starred Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, and Lakeith Stanfield. Though the movie received mixed reviews, it still managed to attract a significant audience. The story follows Light Turner, a high school student who finds a mysterious notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written in it. As he tries to play God by writing the names of criminals in the notebook, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues with a mysterious detective trying to catch him. Regardless of the mixed reviews, the film manages to take the audience on an intriguing and suspenseful journey. If you’re a fan of the original anime, this adaptation is definitely worth a watch!

Frequently Asked Questions for Title: Death Note 2017: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Netflix Adaptation

1. What is Death Note 2017, and what is it about?

Death Note 2017 is a Netflix adaptation of the popular Japanese manga and anime series of the same name. It follows the story of a high school student, Light Turner, who gains the power to kill anyone whose name he writes in a supernatural notebook.

2. How did fans of the original Death Note react to the Netflix adaptation?

Many fans of the original Death Note were disappointed with the adaptation, citing issues with the changes made to the characters, storyline, and overall tone of the show. Some felt that the adaptation lacked the dark and complex themes that made the original so compelling.

3. What were some of the main criticisms of the Death Note 2017 adaptation?

Critics of the adaptation noted several issues, including the whitewashing of main characters, poor character development and lack of chemistry, and a deviation from the source material’s themes and tone. Additionally, the adaptation was criticized for its use of graphic violence and reliance on shock value.

4. Was there anything positive about the Death Note 2017 adaptation?

While many viewers did not enjoy the adaptation, some appreciated the fresh take on the story and the opportunity to introduce new audiences to the Death Note franchise. Additionally, some praised the acting of the main cast members and the visual effects used throughout the series.

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