When a western live action adaption of Death Note adaptation, I think I was more curious about what they were going to do then a lot of other people. For one thing, at the point of its announcement, I haven’t watched the Madhouse Death Note yet, but I had enough second-hand knowledge about the series to be excited about it. Then when I finally did watch the series, I was even more curious about it. (Here’s a little thing, I only wanted to watch the series to have more knowledge at my fingertips when I watched the movie). Death Note is a cat and mouse game, one of my things that western media is good at. In fact, despite all its Japanese setting and some anime things, Death Note is a series that is more western style then most traditional anime. To me, the odds were in favor that this adaption might not be memorable, but it might at least be ok. Oh how wrong I was.
To start this off fair, I at least need to talk about some positives. Yes, there are some positives. The biggest one is that at first, it seemed like this adaption removed it selves from the shackles of the source material. Why does this matter? Because this is a live action adaption in a different medium then anime or manga, it’s processed differently in a large amount of ways. By changing Light’s last name to Turner, setting the story in Seattle, and some other things that might be spoilers, Death Note 2017 separates itself enough from other Death Note related media to make it its own thing. It never does it completely though. Also, that’s about where all the good things end. Now it’s time to take the gloves off in hopefully a coherent manner.
I’m not a source material stickler, so there were some things that connected the series to the manga and anime that didn’t make sense to me. Was I the only one that was kind of upset about L in this adaptation? I probably am, but having the same kind of L sitting weird, eating candy, and other things that L does in this series doesn’t make any sense to me in an adaptation that is more framed in shadow and darkness then the anime was. The anime can get away with this because it’s anime, quirkiness is one of anime’s qualifiers, but it doesn’t work for a live action adaption thing in my opinion. It seemed like a thing that was more for series fanservice the anything else.
Now let’s talk about all the changes that don’t make sense to me. For starters, why did the Death Note have so many rules? The anime/manga’s death note has a short amount of rules that were incredibly memorable and made sense. Here, there are so many rules that not even the main characters knew them all, so the number of rules was just a lame MacGuffin. Second, why was Light’s father the only one that joined L’s task force? I realize that Light was always always L’s number one suspect, but Light was only one of many being suspected? Which brings me to another thing, L and Light never knew each other. I realize that L is supposed to be insanely smart, but he was one hundred percent committed to Light being Kira. It’s so dumb. Speaking of Dumb….
Why is everyone and everything so dumb in this show/movie/thing? By making Light sympathetic and not have a god complex or so meticulous and cunning, that would make him so easy to capture. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he isn’t because L is pretty stupid in his own right. I know I keep pointing at the show and going “look at this”, but “look at this”. The anime L is not completely unemotional, but he is more calculating and logical when it comes to making decisions. Every season he made was based on cold hard facts. This L ended up blatantly threatening Light, and later chased down Light through the streets with a space gun. I’m not even kidding about that. I can keep going and going with this stupid thing, but there is only one more that I want to talk about in this paragraph. Watari’s death. Why did one name in a book work? People have more names then that. Is Watari like Wilson in Home Improvement whose only names are Wilson, so Wilson Wilson Wilson? I’m still so puzzled by this and I just want to kick anything in range…except the dog. Not going to kick living and breathing things, just inanimate objects.
In the end, this movie made me feel better about the anime series. Why that isn’t perfect in anyway and can be over dramatic with many of its “ah ha” moments, but it is a lot more well thought out and has a believable cat and mouse game going on. Believe me, I didn’t write about all the things that I could have in this post, even the terrible ending with the badly place music queue. I don’t recommend watching this movie at all, but chances are you probably already have or are going to out of curiosity, so I didn’t want to spoil everything. Just some of the biggest problems that I feel the movie has. So no, the problem here wasn’t that it was a bad adaption, but because it wasn’t well thought out script. If this was a Netflix series instead of a movie, then everything would have more time to be developed and make sense. That didn’t happen here and that’s unfortunate. In the end, I didn’t want a completely accurate adaptation. I just wanted something that made sense. This didn’t and that is what frustrates me the most.