Netflix Presents: Deathnote: My Thoughts

Whew boy, this thing right here SUUUUUUUUUUCKED!

Okay, let’s back up a little.

I actually love Deathnote.  It’s probably the last anime I truly enjoyed from start to finish.  It was the last time something on television felt like it was super urgent to watch, and that missing so much as one episode would ruin my weekend forever.  I had to avoid any and all spoilers for fear it would ruin the mood.  And even with all that, I STILL managed to have a couple minor gripes.

The biggest of all my gripes with the original Deathnote anime was probably the death of L.  Even at my most otaku, I was never one of THOSE fans, but L was the kind of character that had me come pretty close.  I saw this dude who was solving nigh impossible crimes while injecting himself full of diabetes, and I said to myself: “Dude, I have a new hero.”

My gripe with the death of L has less to do with the fact L died, and more to do with the fact Near (L’s replacement) was basically L with bluish hair.  The way the show was looking, I thought for sure they’d end up doing more with Mellow.  I personally would’ve approved of Mellow being the new L.  He was significantly different from his predecessor, almost to the point where you couldn’t even tell who the bad guy was anymore.  With Near, you really might as well have just kept L alive.

But that detail aside, plus the typical complaints/jokes associated with the English dub, I still enjoyed the ride, and I hold Deathnote in really high regard.

You really wouldn’t think anime, a genre that, in the states at least, is associated with fist fights, giant robots, and cute creatures popping out of magic balls fighting each other to the death, would feature something this cerebral.  I mean yeah, this isn’t exactly a Sherlock Holmes novel, but this is probably the closest thing to a cat-and-mouse rivalry I’d seen at the time in anime, and wasn’t a joke like Mouse or Lupin the 3rd.

Then, about ten years later, they released a Deathnote movie on Netflix.  Whew boy, the grievances!

The moment I saw that trailer, I was already dreading the possibilities.  The closest thing to a positive remark I had was that Willem Defoe as Ryuk was actually a pretty good casting choice.  Pretty sure Willem Defoe was living in my closet when I was a kid.  I checked every night, but…  You know, Family Guy already made that joke, and Family Guy is a whole other dumpster fire for another day, so let’s move on.

I’m pretty forgiving as far as the Americanization is concerned.  Light Yagami is now Light Terner.  Misa is now Mia.  L is a black guy.  The story is set in Seattle (I think).  All of these are fine.  I have no problem with this.  Some loudmouth neoliberal fucktard would, and probably HAS used this as a jumping off point to bitch about white-washing Hollywood or whatever, to which I say “Dude, shut the fuck up.”  Seriously, have you ever seen anime?  You’d think a country like Japan wouldn’t be making so many cartoons with white people, but look at it.  I think the only anime where the characters actually looked like Japanese people were Magical Shopping Arcade Obashi, and Monster.  And to be fair, the main protagonist of Monster was a Japanese man going to Germany.

I was about to end that tangent with something along the lines of “Stop making every fucking thing a social justice debate and enjoy the fucking show.”…  Except I forgot for a moment we were talking about Netflix’s Deathnote.  Yeah, I stand corrected.

I’ll give props to the production crew.  This looks like there was a budget behind it, and it looks like something you’d probably see on the CW.  Unfortunately, there’s plenty of other things wrong with it.  For example, IT LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING YOU’D SEE ON THE FUCKING CW!  CW: The young adult network.

I know I should treat different incarnations of a series as their own story, and should stop drawing comparisons to the version I like.  It’s one of the things that drives a friend of mine absolutely insane.  On the other hand, this is the same friend that thinks Kekistan is the greatest fucking thing in the world, so…  Yeah, advice not taken.

Light Yagami was a fucking sociopath.  Light Terner is a pussy.  If anything, MIA was the sociopath in this movie.  The dynamic was all sorts of wrong.

Ryuk was basically nothing but a spectator.  He chimed in with comments every now and then, and he offered to give Light the eyes of a shinigami (death god) at one point, but he never egged him on.  In this version, Ryuk might as well be the fucking devil.  He’s constantly double-dog-daring Light to write a name in the deathnote.

There are at least ninety fucking rules in the Netflix Deathnote, and a lot of them are stupid, or exist soully for the sake of plot convenience.  The anime Deathnote had…  I originally thought eight, but Panda from The Thrifty Niggle says twenty.  Either way, the rules were minimal, and introduced in a nice steady flow that didn’t feel like they were all being crammed into my head all at once.

I can understand needing to speed things up, considering this is a two hour movie instead of a thirty-seven episode show…  But that’s probably one of the biggest flaws of all.  This thing only had about two hours to work with.  And I ended up tapping out at an hour and thirty.

That’s right, I didn’t finish the movie.  Hashtag-SuperUnprofessional.  Whatever.  I don’t believe inflicting pain on myself for fun.  If I watch a movie, it’s because I want to have fun.  At absolute worst, I THINK it’s going to be enjoyable.

Long story short, this whole thing was a massive disappointment.  I probably ought to have known that the moment I saw the trailer, but what can I say?  I do a lot of stupid shit in the name of fandom.  Hell, I was talking about going to see Saw 8 the other day.

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The End of Oz: My Thoughts

If you want my opinions on the first three books in the Dorothy Must Die series, click here:

https://tjbauthor.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/dorothy-must-die-my-thoughts/

All caught up?  Okay then.  Let’s proceed on to book 4.

I have to say, book 4…  Was kind of a Letdown.

Part of me thinks it’s because this is where the series ends.  While young adult isn’t a demographic I regularly indulge in on purpose, I’ve actually been enjoying the books for the most part.  The fact this thrillride is over, and now I have nothing to look forward to every April is just kind of a downer.

It could also be that the eventual death of Dorothy that we’ve been waiting for since book 1 was kind of a lame-ass cop out.  I spent four books waiting for this bitch to get hers, and the series ends with the main character “taking the high road” on the death penalty like some sanctimonious, bleeding heart pro-lifer on their soapbox denouncing “the satanic institution of death row”.  Ugh, don’t even get me started: we’ll be here all night, and it’s already 3:00 in the morning as I write this.

All I know is rather than a satisfying final battle that leaves the antagonist dead, we get this bullshit morality ending, and Dorothy basically erases herself from existence using…  I don’t know, bailfire?  Does anybody outside the Wheel of Time fandom even know what I’m even referencing?  I waited three fucking years for this, you know.  I’m KIND OF satisfied The Noamb King got his…  Although The Noamb King was pretty one-dimensional by comparison .

It could also be that the FRIangle that has been a minor inconvenience since book 1 reaches its climax.  They finally boink in this book, and it gets pretty insufferable afterward.  Sue me, I wasn’t much of a hopeless romantic when I was their age.  Hell, I used to MST the shit out of this sort of lovey-dovey stuff.

It could also be that, in my humble opinion, chapter 23 was literally unnecessary.  You really could’ve ended the story on chapter 22, and it would’ve been less tedious.  Instead, we get this long, drawn-out, “where are they now” sort of ending that I was really wishing would just hurry up and be done with.

The End of Oz, like the books before it, is read by Devon Sorvari.  I forgot to mention it in the review of the first three books, but I honestly find listening to Sorvari to be the biggest ordeal of the series.  Even when the books are GOOD, I find her style to be slow and monotonous.  It hasn’t gotten better as the years have gone by, sad to say.  I’d like to think she’s giving it her all, and I can forgive a reader who’s a reader of about two or three voices tops, but I get the feeling Sorvari was getting paid by the hour the rate she was reading.

Hell, maybe I didn’t enjoy this one as much because I’m just not feeling the concept anymore.  It seriously took FOUR books to kill Dorothy, and they didn’t really KILL Dorothy so much as they clicked the delete button on her and undid everything she did as a result.  Did I mention that was very unsatisfying?  Because it is.

I probably shouldn’t be complaining too much in the longrun.  Shit, I’m a thirty-one-year-old man who has to self-publish all of HIS crap complaining about someone’s young adult series that managed to get for-real published.  Still, this book was actually kind of a letdown.  It’s the end of an era.  I just wish it didn’t have to go out with an apathetic shrug, mumbling “Whatever, it’s done.  I’m out of here.”