A challange with any film adaptation from a book, comic book or manga has to be the development of characters. After all they only have about one and a half to two hours to tell their story. This becomes an even greater challenge when the characters have a passionate fanbase that want their beloved characters as if they were jumping out of the pages of their books. With the the Netflix film Death Note on a few days away from release, the characters in this film will be subject to the same scrutiny.
Director Adam Wingard did not have the luxuary of a 12-volume series or a 37-episode anime series to tell his story. Light Turner played by Nat Wolff needs to take on the role of “Kira” a lot quicker than fans would probobly want. With that said, it changes the role of Ryuk, voiced by Willem Dafoe, who fans are used to seeing as more of a observer, to someone pushing Light. Also how does that affect a character like Mia Sutton? Who plays this films version of Misa Amane by Margaret Qualley. There isn’t enough time in the film to have her fangirling over Kira, so Wingard does a fantastic job at giving her a more active role. Last but certainly not least we need to bring up L, played by Lakeith Stanfield. One of the best aspects of Death Note, his back and forth with Kira including the mind games they play with one another. L’s character, like Ryuk, has a more aggresive tone that works with the film.
LRM‘s own Joseph Jammer Medina had the oportunity to speak with producer Masi Oka during a press junket for Death Note and he commented on the challanges of developing the characters from manga to film:
“We wanted to make sure that in the U.S. side, we wanted to make sure we give character arcs, or journey, to our characters. This is kind of their origin story, whereas in the manga, first of all you have 12 volumes to see that growth. And we have to put that in a two-hour visual medium. And also, the characters [in the manga] immediately heed the call. They already start out where kind of the movie ends — where Light ends in the movie. So we had to give the characters a point to start, and give them a journey for growth.”
A couple of us at LRM also had the opportunity to screen the film back at San Diego Comic-Con and we both agreed that with the time provided Wingard and his crew did a great job at taking the characters that we know from the manga and anime and adapting them for an American film. Of course changes needed to be made, but it made for a better overall film. But we’ll see how fans react this Friday. What changes in the Death Note characters are you worried about? Chime in below!
Death Note hits Netflix on August 25, 2017.