Adam Wingard on how Death Note’s American setting alters the story

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Death Note Netflix Adam Wingard

I'm not overly familiar with the DEATH NOTE franchise, which originated with the manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata and grew to include anime, novels, video-games, and more, but I am aware that not every fan has been pleased with a few of the creative decisions made by director Adam Wingard. While speaking with IGN about the upcoming DEATH NOTE re-imagining, Wingard stated that upon rereading all of the manga, he soon realized that the series is "such a Japanese thing [and] you can't just say let's port this over and it's going to all add up. They're two different worlds completely." The upcoming film takes place in Seattle, Washington, which Adam Wingard says will have an impact on the story while still keeping its core.

It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100 percent true to the source material, the more it just kind of fell apart… You’re in a different country, you’re in a different kind of environment, and you’re trying to also summarize a sprawling series into a two-hour-long film. For me, it became about what do these themes mean to modern day America, and how does that affect how we tell the story. Ultimately, the cat and mouse chase between Light and L, the themes of good, evil, and what’s in between the gray area. Those are the core things of Death Note, and that’s really what we went for … Ultimately, whenever I say it’s about America, I’m looking at it like, what are the main kind of core issues going on in America. What are the things that people chalk up to conspiracy theories? What kind of weird underground programs does the government have? How do those work in the world of Death Note?

In addition to its American setting, Wingard says that the personalities of characters such as Light Turner (Nat Wolff) and L (Keith Stanfield) also received a few changes; in fact, the only character who survived the adaptation process relatively unscathed is Ryuk (Willem Dafoe), the bored demon who drops the Death Note into the human realm.

At its core, it’s taking the themes of who the characters are but it's exploring them in a new context. Ultimately the personalities of the characters a quite a bit different… L isn't the same. There are a lot of similarities — he likes candy, sometimes he romps around with his shoes off. Those kinds of things, but at the end of the day the take on L and the escalation of his character is very different. He’s still a weirdo. It's the same for almost all the characters across the board. Probably the only character that comes off as the same way as he does in the anime is Ryuk.

DEATH NOTE will be released on Netflix on August 25, 2017.

Source: IGN

About the Author

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.