Netflix's upcoming Death Note film will adapt the popular manga and anime for a whole new audience. But fans of the original series have already taken pause with a few of the film's changes - including its American setting.
According to the film's director, Adam Wingard, there's a good reason for that modification. Wingard revealed in a recent interview with IGN that the change still keeps the series' core themes intact, just applying them to a new location.
"For me, it became about what do these themes mean to modern day America," and how does that affect how we tell the story. Ultimately, the cat and mouse chase between Light and L, the themes of good, evil, and what’s in between the gray area. Those are the core things of Death Note, and that’s really what we went for."
But the setting of the original Death Note - and the significance of Japanese culture on the story - are not lost on Wingard.
"In the early stages of the film I was rereading all of the manga, really just looking at how does any of this translate to the United States. Ultimately, Death Note is such a Japanese thing. You can’t just say let’s port this over and it’s going to all add up. They’re two different worlds completely. It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100 percent true to the source material, the more it just kind of fell apart… You’re in a different country, you’re in a different kind of environment, and you’re trying to also summarize a sprawling series into a two-hour-long film."
What if you had the power to decide who lives and who dies? We suggest you obey the rules. Based on the famous Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power; if the owner inscribes someone's name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life.
Death Note will be available to stream on Netflix beginning August 25, 2017.