Death Note live-action series by Stranger Things Duffer Brothers coming to Netflix

Upside Down Pictures logo and key visual for Death Note.
Upside Down Pictures logo and key visual for Death Note. Pic credit: Upside Down Pictures and Netflix.

Entertainment news website Deadline that the creators of Stranger Things: Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer, also known as the Duffer Brothers, are teaming up on a brand new project. This time the Duffer Brothers are going to do their own spin on an adaptation of Tsugumi Ohba (writer) and Takeshi Obata’s (illustrator) Japanese manga Death Note. The live-action TV series adaptation will be created at their newly formed studio Upside Down Pictures.

Deadline states that the adaptation will be an entirely “new take” on the Death Note Franchise. A lot of diehard Death Note fans were less than impressed by Netflix’s live-action Death Note film, which was released in August 2017. The film was directed by Adam Wingard, and starred Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Keith Standfield as L, Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton, Willem Dafoe as the voice of Ryuk, Paul Nakauchi as Watari, and Shea Whigham as James Turner.

Having watched Netflix’s live-action adaptation, I would have to say the film was “loosely inspired by” the manga Death Note. It envokes the feeling of taking place after the events that take place in the original Death Note and Ryuk travels to America, gives the Death Note to an American high school student, and then the events that take place in the movie ensue.

What went wrong with Netflix’s live-action Death Note film

Most Death Note fans would have preferred a Japanese actor to be cast in the role of Light, but if the series takes place in America I could see an actor such as Tom Holland (Spider Man) or Cole Sprouse (Riverdale) play Light. If actor Takeru Satou (Rurouni Kenshin live-action film) speaks English he would also be a good fit to play Light.

To make the series appeal to adults more they would have to cast actors and actresses in their 20s to early 30s as the high school students in the series. This would be similar to how they cast the students in the Netflix series Riverdale.

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A lot of Death Note fans complained there was needless gore in Netflix’s live-action remake. I would have to agree that the excess gore shifted the film away from supernatural suspense to more of a horror film, along the lines of I Know What You Did Last Summer. While I didn’t mind the Bonnie and Clyde romance between Light and Mia, it was strange that they made Mia the “anti-hero” who was ready to do what needed to be done whereas Light was transformed into a “good guy” who was reluctant to kill people unless it was absolutely necessary.

What fans hope to see from the Death Note series

The whole point of Death Note is that Light Yagami is not a good person. He’s a murderer, but due to Light’s charm, intelligence, and charisma, and being able to understand the motivations behind his actions, he becomes a likable character.

Death Note is supposed to be a guilty pleasure for viewers to secretly root for Light, even though we know what he’s doing is morally wrong. Let’s hope the Duffer Brothers understand this key point. If the only way to keep Light a ruthless anti-hero would be to make him an adult, I would prefer to see a version of Death Note where the characters are in college or even older.

Ryuk also lost a lot of the charisma he had in the anime, and simply became a “scary demon”. In the anime, there were some very humorous Ryuk moments and lines. Willem Dafoe did a great job voicing Ryuk, however, and was one of the high points of the film. It will be interesting to see what take the Duffer Brothers have on Ryuk’s character.

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The Duffer brothers stressed that their company will be motivated by the goal of creating the kinds of stories that inspired them growing up.

We want to create stories that take place at that surreal crossroads where the ordinary meets the extraordinary. Big spectacle will co-exist with character development where heart wins out over cynicism.

The Duffer brothers commented on the entertainment news website Deadline

What was the plot of the original 2003-2006 manga?

The story centers on a high school student named Light Yagami, who has a brilliant mind and finds his day-to-day life tedious. One day, he finds a Death Note – a notebook held by a Shinigami (Death God). When Light discovers that he can put people to death by writing their names within the book, he decides to create a perfect world where the weak will no longer be oppressed by those stronger or more evil than they are.

Light does everything in his power and will do whatever it takes to create a world without crime or criminals, becoming a mass murderer in the process. However, when criminals start dropping dead one by one the authorities send a legendary genius detective to track down the killer and bring him to justice. A cat-and-mouse game begins between self-anointed crusader, Light, and the eccentric detective, L.

Where can I watch Death Note’s adaptations?

The manga inspired a 37-episode TV anime series in 2006-2007, which remains the most popular adaptation of the manga to this day. The Death Note anime series is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Death Note | OFFICIAL TRAILER
The official trailer for the anime Death Note.

In 2006, the live-action Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name films premiered in Japan. For the most part, the movies stuck closely to the manga, although the ending was changed dramatically. The films starred Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light, Ken’ichi Matsuyama as L, Erika Toda as Misa Amane, and Shidou Nakamura as the voice of Ryuk. In 2008, Viz Media screened the films in US theaters and released both on home video with an English dub.

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In 2008, a spin-off live-action film L change the World debuted in Japan. In November 2016, the live-action Death Note Light up the NEW World film debuted. Death Note Light up the NEW World has a completely original story that centers around a new cast of characters who are competing over six Death Notes on Earth. The film supposedly takes place 10 years after the events in the original Death Note storyverse.

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