Fans of the original DEATH NOTE anime and manga have certainly heard about its most recent adaptation. Netflix tried its hand at producing a version of the popular series geared toward a western audience, to little avail. Critique of the film was rampant, with some alleging there were issues of whitewashing the cast, and some objecting to the creative liberties director Adam Wingard took with the story line. Needless to say, there were plenty of mixed feelings about both this particular movie and, transitively, the individuals who had a hand in its production.
If you haven’t heard much about DEATH NOTE at all, this controversy is as good a reason as any to check out the incredible show. The anime follows protagonist Light Yagami, a good-looking genius who discovers a mysterious notebook one day after school. He quickly realizes that he can kill someone by writing their name in the book. A Japanese death god, Ryuk, teaches Light about the book’s rules and powers and eventually, he becomes the notorious ‘Kira’, a mastermind that uses the book to kill criminals and the corrupt. One of the world’s greatest detectives, L, works tirelessly to try and identify and capture Kira. The two then engage in a game of trickery, wit, and extremely meticulous planning.
Wingard’s adaptation essentially swapped most of the Japanese setting and characters for American counterparts. Light Yagami became Light Turner, and Japan shifted to the urban landscape of Seattle, Washington. Wingard altered several other details to form a plot fitting the American indie horror genre rather than a mystery anime.
Threats from Twitter
While most attacks on the film were harsh reviews and ratings, some extended to Wingard personally. Immediately following the film’s release, Wingard exchanged words with trolls and other Twitter users. While the original Tweets are now deleted, Resonate captured images of some of his exchanges with critics of the film.
In the now deleted tweet, Wingard wrote,“Sorry trolls but the artist always wins in the long run.” Later, as he retweeted the same tweet, Wingard wrote, “I love how many people feel personally attacked by this tweet. Its almost like troll bait. Those that bite expose themselves”. Check out the captured tweets below:
However, those relatively harmless jabs at Adam Wingard soon turned to death threats and legitimate harassment, prompting the director to delete his entire Twitter account. According to an article from Indie Wire, Wingard has been receiving threats since prior to even completing the movie’s script, so it was only a matter of time before those threats escalated and became serious.
Fandom Turned Violent
Overall, this isn’t a good sign for the world of adaptations or even just anime in general. While it is entirely fair to offer legitimate criticism of a film, it does nothing to harass directors for their work, especially via social media. If this sort of pattern continues, it will likely dampen any desire to adapt popular Japanese shows for fear of backlash and legitimate danger to its adaptors.
While Netflix’s DEATH NOTE certainly had its problems, viewers should have saved their issues as a reference for future projects rather than fuel vitriol and personal attacks. For those who have yet to see the film, check it out on Netflix and watch the official trailer below:
Featured image from Netflix.