The Netflix live-action adaptation of the popular anime Death Note has gotten some controversial buzz from its first teaser. On March 22, the film released a teaser showing off many of the main characters and the dark theme of the movie. American Fans of the franchise were outraged at the whitewashing of many of the main characters, notably Light. Angry fans took to social media immediately and not only ranted but also created a petition people to boycott Netflix's Death Note film.
The petition was created on Care2 Petition "Boycott Netflix's Death Note for Whitewashing!". Currently the petition has over 16,000 supporters, and cites "White actors have been cast to play the main characters in this adaptation. Death Note shouldn't be cast with all white actors as it goes against the very soul of the story."
This petition has had so much traction that it has found its way to the East, and Japanese fans have joined in with their take on the situation. Similarly to the last time there was whitewashing controversy, like the live-action Ghost in the Shell outrage, Japanese fans predominately don't care about a white cast. They took Twitter and offered their view on the situation saying things like;
“If this takes place at an American high school, then having white actors isn’t an issue.”
“It’s a Hollywood version, so it’s okay to have white people.”
“It’s like the Hollywood Godzilla. It’s the Hollywood version so having foreigners isn’t a problem.”
Unlike American audience who took a much more offended stance, Japanese fans were laid back about the whole thing. Basically saying since it was a Western adaptation of course it has white actors. But one question that came up over and over among Japanese Tweets is the casting of L. L is played by a black actor, Keith Stanfield, and some fans were confused by that casting call.
“The thing that’s out of place is L being black.
“Going by the original manga, L being black is by far stranger."
“It just doesn’t feel like it fits his character.”
Japanese fans also shed some light on their view on Asian American actors as well. It seems that the overwhelming view is that they would be more upset if Asian actors who are not Japanese play Japanese roles. Stating that it if Asian actors were to be used for the roles, they should only be Japanese.
"I think all of this is way less of a problem than when the actor for the main character in Speed Racer was switched from Japanese to Korean.”
“As a Japanese person, I’d be much more offended if a non-Japanese Asian person were playing a Japanese role.”
“Honestly I’d much rather have a white or black actor in an American setting than a Korean or Chinese actor pretending to be Japanese.”
So overall it seems that Japanese Internet users have a much different view on American Adaptations than American audience. Only time will tell how well the adaptation of the original story does, and whether Death Note fans will enjoy it regardless of who is cast.
Death Note will be available to stream on Netflix beginning August 25, 2017.