Netflix’s Death Note Series Might Be The Best Live-Action American Anime Yet

Death Note is a manga series that was first published in chapters through a magazine, from 2003 to 2006, until all the chapters were collected and published in a twelve-part series. After that, it didn’t take long for the series to gain popularity, and within a year, it was turned into an anime series.

Through Viz Media, the Death Note The story exploded among American viewers. Even when live-action Japanese film adaptations of the story were made, they were released in a select few North American theaters and had fairly good turnout, showing how big the fan base really was in the US. and Canada, and has only grown since then.

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As anime became increasingly popular in North America, the demand for translated content grew, as did the demand for more accessible viewing platforms (beyond finding it on the Internet). In an attempt to avoid losing money to viewers’ pirated content, several big anime creators shared their stuff with streaming companies. Considering how accessible most streaming companies make entire anime series, many anime series further increased their popularity with the North American audience.

Given the success of these stories in Japan, as well as the popularity of their translated versions around the world, the demand for anime-based content is growing. Of course, now that there is a demand for content, streaming companies are often among the first to fill the need. This is no different with anime. As the measure of anime’s popularity grows, so does the number of live-action adaptations, especially with popular stories like cowboy bebop, Dragon BallY Death Note.

The Death Note story has been adapted into live-action narratives several times. The first live-action adaptation was a 2006 Japanese film titled Death Note. From there, three more live-action movies were made in Japan: a 2006 sequel called death note 2: the surname, and a 2008 spin-off film with the title L: Change the world. A final movie was added in 2016, called Death Note: light up the new world, which followed a live-action miniseries, called Death Note: New Generation and a 2015 live action television series also called Death Note.

While the Japanese adaptations do a fantastic job of exploring the story and honestly providing a more honest and immersive reflection of the culture the story comes from, finding translated versions of them was hard to do for a long time. As a response, streaming giant Netflix, which had already started to include more anime content on its platform, created its own live-action film adaptation of Death Note in 2017. The film did not receive particularly good reviews and deviated from several seemingly important details in the original manga telling the story.

Since almost half a decade has passed, the streaming platform has announced its intention to give a Death Note the live-action adaptation another go, this time in a television format, which will probably give them more time to properly explore the story and the world. Along with a new format, Netflix has also equipped what is potentially, currently, its greatest asset to bring the series to life: the Duffer brothers. Still reeling from the success of the two part season 4 of Strange thingsThe Duffer Brothers are arguably the ones keeping Netflix at the top of the charts, in terms of views. The writers, whose show actually caused the Netflix site to crash due to viewer usage, have more than proven their ability to successfully bring to life a seemingly unrealistic world and multi-layered characters.


However, as much as the brothers have shown their skills, anime fans are still skeptical about another live-action adaptation. Intransigent Death Note Fans are likely tired of being let down by live-action adaptations that can’t capture the chilling magic of the story in the same way that manga and anime can. What allows anime stories to work so well is the fact that they’re animated and therefore able to expand the perimeters of reality without it being cheesy or obvious, and that often doesn’t translate well to the action itself. live. Though that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. That said, the Duffer brothers seem to have a good grasp of examining dark worlds through a very realistic human lens, so if any American writer is capable of doing it, it’s probably them.


Perhaps it’s that Netflix realized where they went wrong with their original film adaptation, or perhaps it’s that they felt they had found writers who would be able to capture and do justice to the complexity of the world in which the story takes place. It would be nice if the streaming platform already made an adaptation of the tale because it allowed them to get a feel for the story and hear feedback from fans about where they went wrong. It certainly seems to have served as a good learning moment for the company.

However, there is the fact that Netflix, and any American company, has yet to create a live action adaptation of an anime story that was well received by fans. That’s perhaps because the writing formula for Japanese anime is very different and focuses on different things than television formats in the US and Canada. That point indicates that the importance of an anime is not only the plot or story concept, but also the world in which it takes place and therefore the culture. The key to a successful adaptation is finding the vital cultural points, thematic points, and the narrative points of the original story.


Anime adaptations are generally received much better than live-action retellings because they follow the manga more closely. Beyond capturing more of the manga’s story description, they also capture the characters in the same, or very similar art form, allowing the viewer to automatically recognize who the characters are if they read the manga. So, again, the best hope for any live-action adaptation is to capture the most essential elements of the manga’s story and world.

The Duffer brothers have proven their success with Strange things that they can take a complex and dark story and humanize each of the characters that play a role in it, while igniting the furthest reaches of the human imagination. If they keep a focus on the essential components of the manga series of Death Noteand the cast just as they did for their ’80s sci-fi horror hit, they likely have everything they need to create a live-action adaptation that will satisfy old fans and hook new ones.


MORE: Death Note short stories now available in English

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