By: Jordan Chua
A Netflix live-action adaptation of Death Note is given another go, this time with hit series Stranger Things’ producers Matt and Ross Duffer and their new production company, Upside Down Pictures.
The Duffer Brothers, most known for their mystery sci-fi series Stranger Things, recently announced the creation of Upside Down Pictures and several upcoming projects, all made for Netflix. These projects include a Stranger Things spinoff series, a stage play, a series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Talisman, and a new original series by Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance creators Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews.
The Duffers aim to create “stories that take place at that beautiful crossroads where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, where big spectacle co-exists with intimate character work, where heart wins out over cynicism.”
Death Note was originally a manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, where a teenager named Light obtains the Death Note, a mysterious notebook where any person whose name is written in it will die. Light uses the notebook’s abilities to create a world free from crime. It later received an anime adaptation by Madhouse in 2006 and has garnered thousands of fans across the world for its gripping mysteries, vivid characters, and its poignant questions about justice and the value of human life weighed against it.
With such a beloved franchise, it’s only natural that adaptations, especially from companies that aren’t based in Japan or work in animation, are given high expectations to stay faithful to the source material and a dose of caution. Netflix’s previous attempt at adapting Death Note in 2017 was poorly received, with a Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score of 23% and an IMDb score of 4.5/10. The project’s failure, along with other failed anime adaptations, are reflected in memes where fans compare frames from a manga and its anime adaptation, followed by a vaguely similar image from an unrelated live-action production in a ‘downgraded’ fashion.
Current reactions to the prospects of a Duffer-made adaptation aren’t ideal, with many dreading another catastrophic failure and wondering whether there would ever be a successful live-action adaptation of Death Note.
This Twitter user said in response to the news, “Netflix must HATE Death Note if they’re violating it for a second time” – referring to the previous Netflix adaptation of Death Note.
Others aren’t so optimistic, either.
“Netflix after ruining Death Note for the second time,” is the caption of this meme, where anime fans are depicted to be beating up the Duffers while Netflix watches from the background.
Another user said, “The Duffer Brothers are developing a new live-action Death Note series for Netflix” might genuinely be the worst thing I read today.”
Still, there are those who hold out hope that the Duffers will work their magic for their own attempt at adapting the series. Stranger Things displayed the Duffers’ ability to weave compelling, emotional stories in surreal, fantastical worlds with distinctive visual style. Hopefully, that same touch can work wonders for Death Note.
Are you optimistic about this new Death Note adaptation? Or are you on the side of caution for this one? Let us know in the comments!