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16 Reasons Why Netflix's 'Death Note' Adaptation Failed

List RulesVote up the ways the Netflix Death Note wrote its own death wish.

When it comes to Netflix's Death Note versus the anime, it stands to reason many viewers feel nothing will live up to the original's glory. After all, many of the series's original aspects never appear in the Netflix Death Note. Most Death Note reviews do not favor the live action film. 

In fact one issue arose the moment they revealed the cast - Death Note is yet another anime adaptation that whitewashes its characters. Because the Netflix version is a movie rather than episodic anime or manga, major plot holes exist, character development feels inconsistent, and it fails to capture the tension that made the original so engaging. The anime tackles age-old questions about the hubris of man and the meaning of justice, while the film's characters feel as if they are embodying an edgy trope. That might have flown on its own, but when made in the image of such classic anime, it was only ever going to crash and burn.

  • 1
    748 VOTES

    The Interaction Between L And Light Is Nonexistent

    Photo: Madhouse

    One of the most compelling aspects of the original Death Note was the relationship between L and Light Yagami. A high-tension battle between two intellectual powerhouses constantly outwitting each other, their interactions included life-or-death encounters, trying to extract information via tennis matches, being handcuffed to each other for strategic reasons, and even the occasional heartfelt or funny moment. 

    With Netflix's version of L and Light, none of this occurs. The two of them barely interact, and when they do, it never happens on an even field. Turner is a confused child who suffers diarrhea of the mouth in front of a world-famous detective. The only potentially interesting statement Turner makes, a request for L's help getting rid of the Death Note, never gets followed up. As a result, viewers miss out on one of the greatest battle of wits the fiction world has ever known. 

    Bad call?
  • 2
    677 VOTES

    Light Turner Puts No Effort Into Avoiding Being Caught

    Photo: Madhouse

    One of the primary conflicts in the original Death Note is Light Yagami's increasingly frantic struggle to avoid being caught. In early episodes, Yagami hides the Death Note in a false bottom into his desk drawer, which he rigs to explode if tampered with. Later, he lets himself be handcuffed to L for months on end to allay his suspicions. Eventually, not being caught becomes his primary goal, while actually pursuing his interpretation of justice becomes secondary.

    This is a far cry from Light Turner. While both characters need not be entirely identical, it's hard to care about what happens to Turner when he obviously doesn't. One of the first things Turner does is show Mia Sutton the Death Note, with no foreknowledge whatsoever about how she might react. He hides the damn thing in his calculus textbook, never denies being a Kira supporter, and outright tells L where it's hidden during one of their only confrontations.  

    You might assume Turner wants to get caught, but if he does, then none of his other actions make any sense. Instead, it just comes off as a clumsy plot and a scatterbrained, careless main character.

    Bad call?
  • 3
    524 VOTES

    Mia Sutton Is A Sadistic Edgelord

    Photo: Netflix

    On the surface, Mia Sutton actually seems sort of cool. While Sutton's predecessor Misa Amane occupies a complex and complicated role, many Death Note fans tired of watching Light Yagami manipulate traumatized women into risking their lives for his benefit. Sutton sports more agency than Amane, and she has goals independent of her love interest's.

    The problem is that Sutton's goals are shallow and poorly defined. She wants power and thinks criminals are better off dead, but you never learn why she feels that way. The closest viewers get to a motivation comes from her telling Light Turner that before she met him, she was "just a cheerleader." That's an absurd motivation for mass murder, and it never deepens whatsoever. Instead of being a complicated character with a lot of problems like Amane, Sutton is a sadistic edgelord, who, according to mojo.com is a "rehashed Lady MacBeth," which is to say, not nearly as interesting as Lady MacBeth.

    Bad call?
  • 4
    460 VOTES

    The Movie Doesn’t Earn Its Ending

    Photo: Netflix

    At the end of the movie, viewers discover Turner pulls off a complicated trick with the Death Note, resulting in his survival and Mia Sutton's death. Said trick might be cool if it didn't seem like a total deus ex machina. As it is, Turner shows little interest in manipulating the Death Note to achieve his goals, and little aptitude for complex logical thinking.

    Would Light Yagami pull something like that off? Yes, absolutely, he'd been doing exactly that from Day 1. Light Turner, on the other hand, finds himself stumped by the fact "so many f*cking rules" get in his way, and he never masters them until the very end. With source material like Death Note you need process, or the payoff appears cheap and forced. 

    Bad call?