GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
By EMMA CHANG
Will the Netflix Original movie be the “death” of asian influence in productions?
On Aug. 25, 2017, Netflix released its original movie, Death Note, which is based on a popular anime series. The release drew in hype from the anime’s fanbase, as not many animes are remade into live action film.
Death Note follows the life of high school student Light Turner who stumbles upon a strange notebook containing various rules. These rules reveal the notebook’s mysterious use: write a name and cause of death inside and they shall die in the desired manner. With his new found powers, Light becomes a reckless vigilante, making himself “judge, jury, and executioner.” Together he and his love interest begin their killing crusades and are pursued relentlessly by detective “L.”
Despite all the excitement for the film’s release, Netflix’s final product was extremely disappointing due to a warped plot that strayed too far from the original anime and a whitewashed cast that led to an overall poorly produced movie.
Since many fans of the anime expected a film more similar to the original series, Netflix’s notable changes to the storyline were poorly received and harshly criticized by fans. In an attempt to create an “original” plot, Netflix altered many essential pieces of the story which proved to be for the worse after being denounced by fans and critics alike.
For example, the Netflix adaption takes place in Seattle, Washington in contrast to the original anime’s Tokyo setting. This slight alteration may seem miniscule, but in reality a change of location changes the character’s behavior and overall tone of the movie, further distancing the film from the anime. The movie also makes Ryuk, the demon responsible for the notebook’s creation, a supporting character whereas in the anime he plays a significant role in many of Light’s actions.
These changes greatly influenced how the storyline unfolded and led up to a completely new ending that was not close to the original series. Regardless of the company’s good intentions, the changes in plot backlashed greatly, and amounted to only bad reviews, thus downgrading the movie’s quality and outlook.
Moreover, Hollywood’s habitual whitewashing has also begun to rid cinematic productions of diverse cultures and make new adaptations unpopular.
“Whitewashing” refers to the practice of replacing diverse actors with caucasians in roles written and meant to be played by non-white actors. Death Note is only one of the many films that has been affected by Hollywood’s racism, hurting fans of the original series and indirectly destroying majority their own fanbase.
Whether producers’ intentions are to discriminate or not, these decisions are not going unnoticed by fans. Viewers are not looking for a different storyline or cast, they want to see the fantasy they had imagined in their minds come to life and are disappointed when their favorite shows are altered. Are production companies really willing to risk their fans’ criticism and dissatisfaction, all in an attempt to be unique?
All in all, Death Note is one of the many productions that have lost their diversity and originality. Although new viewers may become admirers, many original fans continue to resent new anime adaptations and Death Note is only the beginning.
Unfortunately for fans, it seems they will have to note the death of their favorite series coming to life and accept the new whitewashed ones being illustrated in their place.