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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