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How Netflix's Death Note Remake Changes the Iconic Manga

By Kevin Burwick — July 1st, 2017

Netflix's Death Note is coming out later this summer and director Adam Wingard has explained his reasoning for changing some of the elements from the original Manga series. The first official trailer for Death Note dropped last week and it looks just as dark and gritty as Wingard has promised, but it has left many wondering about the choice of actors and location again. When the first teaser was released earlier in the year many were angry about the apparent "white washing" of the beloved Japanese Anime book series, some deciding to boycott the upcoming movie all together.

Adam Wingard recently talked to IGN about his decisions to use an American setting and what kind of impact that has on the characters in the movie adaptation. Wingard started off his process by reading all of the manga. The director says this.

"In the early stages of the film I was reading all of the manga, really just looking at how does any of this translate to the United States."

Fans who are excited for the movie have commented that the story can probably be ported to anywhere in the world, not just Japan, but even the director seems to disagree with this attitude. Wingard explains.

"Ultimately, Death Note is such a Japanese thing. You can't just say let's port this over and it's all going to add up. They're two different worlds completely."

When it came to making the decision to make Death Note in America, Wingard thought long and hard about what kind of issues in America could easily fit into the world of Death Note. Read what Wingard had to say below.

"Ultimately, whenever I say it's about America, I'm looking at it like, what are the main kind of core issues going on an America, what are the things that people chalk up to conspiracy theories? What kind of weird underground programs does the government have? How do these work in the world of Death Note."

After Wingard mentions his intentions, the idea starts to make sense. It's still going to alienate some long time fans, but it will work on an American stage with Wingard's tinkering. The director went on to talk about trying to stay true to the source material even after moving the location to the United States. When it came down to it, the characters weren't working as well anymore. Wingard explains.

"It's one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100% 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."

Wingard had to think about what the themes of Death Note mean in modern America and a lot of the core elements remained the same. The themes of good and evil are universal along with the gray area that exists in between the two. As far as characters are concerned, Wingard says that Light Turner (in the movie) and Light Yagami share some similarities, but they are different characters. Wingard suggests that the "escalation" of Light Turner's character is a little more in depth than that of the anime series character of Light. Wingard attempts to tell more of Light's background story in terms of the American underground of "clandestine operations." The same can be said for most of the characters except for Ryuk the Shinigami, who apparently comes off relatively similar to his character in the book series.

Netflix's Death Note is officially set to start streaming on August 25th, 2017 and fans will have to wait until then to see Wingard's adaptation. From what the director has said, a lot of care and thought has gone on to change up the settings and have them fit into present day America. In the meantime, you can check out the recently released trailer of a movie that Wingard promises to be his craziest yet. Check out the trailer below. Death Note will have a big presence at this year's Comic-Con when Netflix arrives at the San Diego convention center this July.

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