After months of silence from the cast and the media, the Netflix live-action adaption of the hit anime Death Note has finally been released. Although fairly brief for a trailer, clocking in at barely under a minute, it has given Death Note fans more than enough to get excited about.
The film promises a dark urban setting, cat-and-mouse themes and starring roles from the likes of Willem Dafoe and YA film star Nat Wolff.
But, as a standard rule of live-action adaptions, the trailer has received its fair share of criticism and backlash, particularly for (you guessed it!) white-washing and poor casting.
Yes, white-washing, the act of taking a Caucasian or Western actor and giving them an Asian name and character role and the go-to argument for live-action adaption haters. The producers of Death Note had hoped to avoid this by changing the film’s setting and character names (Light Yagami became Light Turner etc) but as a rule of thumb on the Internet, fair arguments are invalid. If the ‘white-washing’ fiasco wasn’t enough, fans have called the trailer out on the main characters themselves, particularly the casting of a black actor (Keith Stanfield) fan-favourite character ‘L’, a white character.
But not all reactions to the trailer were bad. As far as the film’s casting goes, the inclusion of Willem Dafoe as Ryuk goes, even the haters couldn’t complain. Ryuk is a shinigami (A Japanese death spirit) and the owner of the titular notebook that Light uses to commit his murders, so as you can expect, he and Light will have a twisted mentor, Faustian/Mephistopheles relationship.
The trailer may have had some controversial casting and dark themes, but with Dafoe’s smooth baritone and a blurred teaser of Ryuk, I’m already sold on this adaption.