Adam Wingard Explains Why He Set Netflix’s ‘Death Note’ Movie in America
For most fans of the Death Note manga and/or anime series, it may seem a little odd that Netflix’s new movie based on the property is set in the U.S. It was, after all, a Japanese series to begin with. Recently, director Adam Wingard explained why he thought it was necessary for his version of the story that it be set in America, with American actors.
While speaking to IGN about his new movie, Wingard said it was a bit difficult to translate the material to an American landscape.
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. 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.
At the end, what he had to do was stick with the source material only so far, but also feel free to change it up a bit to suit the setting he chose.
At its core, it’s taking the themes of who the characters are but it’s exploring them in a new context. Ultimately the personalities of the characters a quite a bit different… L isn’t the same. There are a lot of similarities — he likes candy, sometimes he romps around with his shoes off. Those kinds of things, but at the end of the day the take on L and the escalation of his character is very different. He’s still a weirdo. It’s the same for almost all the characters across the board. Probably the only character that comes off as the same way as he does in the anime is Ryuk.
This is a pretty good explanation of the situation, at least from a director’s point of view. But the point still stands that it’s getting pretty tiresome seeing all of these Japanese-made franchises adapted to suit a very white American audience.
Death Note hits Netflix August 25.