Many anime-lovers were excited for the live action version of Death Note that was released on August 25, 2017. Unfortunately, fans of the original anime and manga series were highly disappointed with the horror film that they were presented with. Not only was the plot of the original story abandoned, but the Americanized film also strayed away from important character traits that made the Death Note anime intriguing. The pointless changes made it very difficult for the live action film to live up to the exceptionalism of the original story.
There was already uncertainty about the film when news broke that it would be pressured to cram two seasons of content into an hour and forty minute film. This was a challenge especially because Death Note has very little filler; every episode has an important contribution to the overall plotline. However, we didn’t expect the director to desert the majority of the plot from the original series altogether. Countless scenes in the movie were never part of the anime, and most memorable scenes from the anime never made their way into the film. In addition, the film takes place in America instead of Japan. Many of the deviations were unnecessary, and some were even distracting.
Furthermore, the characters were poorly rewritten and some were even removed. The love interest from the anime was turned into a power-driven psychopath. The young detective “L” is simply too emotional to live up to his anime counterpart. The death god (or ‘shinigami’), “Ryuk”, becomes a source of intimidating peer pressure for Light rather than the apple-addicted neutral character he is in the anime. Everything that was funny about Ryuk in the anime was taken away. Some of the lovable policemen from the investigation team in the anime never got a part to play in the film.
Even so, the biggest character issue is the main character, “Light Turner”. He is moody and unstable, causing him to constantly doubt his actions-- something that cold, clever “Light Yagami” (Death Note anime) would have never dreamt of. While Yagami is sure of himself and casts aside a perfect life to pursue his goal, Turner is predictable and channels his stress from his everyday life into his irrational actions. The Light Yagami we know and respect always has a plan and always knows how to be one step ahead of his enemy.
Several movie adaptations make changes to the story for specific purposes, and are able to do so successfully. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Death Note (2017). It is illogical to change the plot and characters when the original Death Note plot was already brilliant, and carefully constructed. It’s safe to say that Death Note (2017) was an utter disappointment to the true Death Note.
With that said, if you’re interested in watching Death Note, you’re much better off enjoying the two-season anime.