Title: Death Note.
Volumes: 12 + 1.
Writer(s): Tsugumi Ohba.
Illustrator(s): Takeshi Obata.
Publisher: Viz Media.
Format: Tankōbon volumes & digital.
Original Run: December 1, 2003 – May 15, 2006.
Genre(s): Comics, Manga, Mystery, Supernatural, Thriller.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.85/5).
Back in high school, I found myself in a deeply profound romance with the Japanese realm of manga and anime. It was one of my biggest hobbies, among other things, until I had to let go and move on to expand my interests with other sources of entertainment. During those days, I heavily praised a manga series where two masterminds would go up against each other to dish out their own platter of justice in the form that they deemed most adequate, and it is none other than the critically-acclaimed series written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata: Death Note. Towards the end of 2018, I looked into rekindling my love for this medium and found myself sucked into a universe that I still don’t know how I dared quit on. To fully plunge into it all, I convinced myself that it would be a wonderful time to revisit this series and appreciate it properly, almost a decade later.
What is Death Note about? The story focuses on a teen genius who goes by the name of Light Yagami and his serendipitous encounter with a notebook known as the Death Note. With this notebook also came its owner, the Death God (Shinigami) Ryuk, who can only be seen by those who touch the book. This notebook allows the owner to kill anyone whose name is written within it while having their face on their mind. Thus begins the birth of a new form of justice served out on a silver platter that impacts the crime rate in society until a private detective known as “L” comes forth to put an end to the pretentious individual who proclaims himself as a New God (Kira) and decides who deserves to live or to die. The series explores the repercussions of such a power on both an individual and societal level as the cat and mouse game teases us on a New World where crime is obsolete and justice prevails through the hands of one person.
This manga series is one of the best mystery thrillers that brilliantly incorporates supernatural elements to further explore the abstract concepts of good and evil through justice and crime. The psychological battle that unfolds between Light and L is incredibly tantalizing and develops a game of chess that is so complex that you just don’t know how far one would go to win against the other. However, a story arc that truly tested my patience was with the Yotsuba Group as the story, unfortunately, shifts its attention from the main cast to an outside one. The newly introduced characters were pretty boring and the story was overstretched unnecessarily. There’s then a critical and pivotal moment that occurs around halfway through the series, right after the Yotsuba Group story arc, that sort of brings it to struggle a bit in finding its footing again but, most of the time, it discovers ways to keep things interesting with its incredible and diverse cast, from the dumb and exploited Misa Amane, the extreme and radical Mello to the child prodigy Near.
The artwork is quite impeccable throughout the series and works in favour of the mangaka’s desire to fully capture the story’s intrigue and suspense. Unlike a lot of manga out there, the series is also dialogue-heavy where a lot of exposition and explanation is done through characters. While it might feel heavy, it is part of the series and is what makes this series stand out from the rest. What I also did love most are the discrete emotional changes that clearly exposes the character’s intention and emotional state throughout the story, especially Light and his evil smirk’s whenever he believes he’s got things under control. The series does have one of the greatest and most satisfying endings to go with it as well, which makes it a lot easier praise it as a whole. A 13th volume was also released to unveil L’s true identity, his dislike for socks and a bunch of unnecessary fun facts on the characters, the story, and the writing process. But the first 12 volumes remains a wonderful run that should be explored by everyone who enjoys a good thriller.
Death Note is a terrifyingly addictive cat and mouse game between geniuses that brilliantly explores the concept of justice in its wildest and rawest forms.
Title: Death Note.
Director: Adam Wingard.
Screenplay: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides & Jeremy Slater.
Original Writer & Illustrator: Tsugumi Ôba & Takeshi Obata.
Release Date: 2017.
Runtime: 101 min.
Genre(s): Adventure, Crime, Drama.
Cast: Nat Wolff, LaKeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley and many more!
Opening Weekend: $53,174,303.
Domestic Gross: $116,601,172.
My Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (1/10).
I’ve been meaning to give this incredibly controversial movie a shot once I had finished re-reading the manga series. Here I am completely astonished that it is actually possible to be beyond disappointed even after having set the bar below ground level. This original Netflix movie is the biggest disrespect to the manga series and there wasn’t a single moment that managed to gather my jaw back up from the ground as I remained impressed and in awe at how much butchering went on. Death Note (2017) turned out to be a wanton disregard to the ideas of the source material, one that merits it a spot among the worse live-action movie adaptation of any manga or comic book of all time. This is what you get when you fuse Twilight with Final Destination as the romance and hyper-violence make for a disgusting cocktail that warrants a never-ending vomit from its viewers.
What is Death Note (2017) about? Although it is a messy and cringe-worthy adaptation of the manga series, the story takes bits and small pieces of the original story and condenses it within a movie of not even 100 minutes. The story is thus set in Seattle where Light Turner picks up a notebook where he discovers a jumble of rules that frames the usage of the so-called Death Note. Accompanied by a devilish partner, Mia Sutton, with whom he shares his secret god-like powers, they both decide to go on their own intimate version of “Netflix and Chill”—or rather “Death Note and Kill”. As they both look to put an end to all the criminals and terrorists around the world, you then have an Afro-American “L”—thus begins discussions on white/black-washing—who looks to put an end to this individual who goes by the name of “Kira”.
Let me start by ripping to pieces the casting for Light. You couldn’t have picked the goofiest looking dude to play the role of a character known for great posture, incredible intelligence and an ability to adapt to situations without breaking a sweat. What we have instead is a kid who looks like he has intense social issues, screams in high-pitched voices when he finds himself in trouble and runs away from said trouble as if he was drunk and had something stuck up his bum. It doesn’t help either when most of the casting choices were just as bad as Light’s. L was another terrible take on the original character as the real L’s sense of calm, organization and discrete analytical reflection is replaced with an emotional and unconvincing know-it-all who showcases no proofs of his intellect. And then there’s Mia’s character. A despicable individual who serves as the “pure evil” alter ego of Light and who draws upon manipulation and pleasure as her key tools towards selfish goals.
The story is what further destroys the movie’s hopes of redeeming itself at any point in time. With the first quarter of the movie focused on introducing the notebook and the characters, the second quarter looked to build on the relationship between Light and Mia with the notebook being their main and only connection. The second half of the movie looks to expand on the dull and accelerated confrontation between Light and L until its finale, predictably, turns things around and piles up plot holes on top of plot holes. One of the worse moments was when Light started to have verbal control on people he had written their names in the Death Note. Anything to move the plot forward, right?
While I liked the idea of Willem Dafoe as the Shinigami Ryuk, his character was also destroyed. His cackle is the only reason I’m even giving this movie any stars. But to actually give the Death God an active role in the story was unacceptable. The innocent omniscient bystander that he is in the manga was nowhere to be seen in this movie, especially when he turns into a sadist who wants things to go wrong. But that’s when you understand that this movie is free of any form of characterization with all of its characters unidimensional and incomprehensible in their motives actions. In fact, the movie doesn’t ever try to adapt the original story—even giving the impression that the director and screenplay writers haven’t read the manga or watched the anime—but actually rips off the premise in order to explore the question of justice in an American context.
Death Note (2017) is a disrespectful and obnoxious live-action adaptation that bleeds with carelessness, stupidity and horrible acting performances.
Be warned. It is not what you think it is. If there’s any live-action adaptation of this manga that you should try, it’s the Japanese movie directed by Shūsuke Kaneko in 2016!
Have you read Death Note?
Have you tried the anime or any of the movie adaptations? What did you think about them?
Share your thoughts with me!