Death Note | Manga vs. Movie

Title: Death Note.
Volumes: 12 + 1.
Writer(s): Tsugumi Ohba.
Illustrator(s): Takeshi Obata.
Publisher: Viz Media.

 Tankōbon volumes & digital.
Original Run: December 1, 2003 – May 15, 2006.
Genre(s): Comics, Manga, Mystery, Supernatural, Thriller.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.85/5).


Back in high school, I found myself in a deeply profound romance with the Japanese realm of manga and anime. It was one of my biggest hobbies, among other things, until I had to let go and move on to expand my interests with other sources of entertainment. During those days, I heavily praised a manga series where two masterminds would go up against each other to dish out their own platter of justice in the form that they deemed most adequate, and it is none other than the critically-acclaimed series written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata: Death Note. Towards the end of 2018, I looked into rekindling my love for this medium and found myself sucked into a universe that I still don’t know how I dared quit on. To fully plunge into it all, I convinced myself that it would be a wonderful time to revisit this series and appreciate it properly, almost a decade later.

What is Death Note about? The story focuses on a teen genius who goes by the name of Light Yagami and his serendipitous encounter with a notebook known as the Death Note. With this notebook also came its owner, the Death God (Shinigami) Ryuk, who can only be seen by those who touch the book. This notebook allows the owner to kill anyone whose name is written within it while having their face on their mind. Thus begins the birth of a new form of justice served out on a silver platter that impacts the crime rate in society until a private detective known as “L” comes forth to put an end to the pretentious individual who proclaims himself as a New God (Kira) and decides who deserves to live or to die. The series explores the repercussions of such a power on both an individual and societal level as the cat and mouse game teases us on a New World where crime is obsolete and justice prevails through the hands of one person.

Image result for death note manga

This manga series is one of the best mystery thrillers that brilliantly incorporates supernatural elements to further explore the abstract concepts of good and evil through justice and crime. The psychological battle that unfolds between Light and L is incredibly tantalizing and develops a game of chess that is so complex that you just don’t know how far one would go to win against the other. However, a story arc that truly tested my patience was with the Yotsuba Group as the story, unfortunately, shifts its attention from the main cast to an outside one. The newly introduced characters were pretty boring and the story was overstretched unnecessarily. There’s then a critical and pivotal moment that occurs around halfway through the series, right after the Yotsuba Group story arc, that sort of brings it to struggle a bit in finding its footing again but, most of the time, it discovers ways to keep things interesting with its incredible and diverse cast, from the dumb and exploited Misa Amane, the extreme and radical Mello to the child prodigy Near. 

The artwork is quite impeccable throughout the series and works in favour of the mangaka’s desire to fully capture the story’s intrigue and suspense. Unlike a lot of manga out there, the series is also dialogue-heavy where a lot of exposition and explanation is done through characters. While it might feel heavy, it is part of the series and is what makes this series stand out from the rest. What I also did love most are the discrete emotional changes that clearly exposes the character’s intention and emotional state throughout the story, especially Light and his evil smirk’s whenever he believes he’s got things under control. The series does have one of the greatest and most satisfying endings to go with it as well, which makes it a lot easier praise it as a whole. A 13th volume was also released to unveil L’s true identity, his dislike for socks and a bunch of unnecessary fun facts on the characters, the story, and the writing process. But the first 12 volumes remains a wonderful run that should be explored by everyone who enjoys a good thriller.

Death Note is a terrifyingly addictive cat and mouse game between geniuses that brilliantly explores the concept of justice in its wildest and rawest forms.

Title: Death Note.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Adam Wingard.
Screenplay: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides & Jeremy Slater.
Original Writer & Illustrator: Tsugumi Ôba & Takeshi Obata.
Release Date: 2017.
Runtime: 101 min.
Genre(s): Adventure, Crime, Drama.
Cast: Nat Wolff, LaKeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley and many more!
Budget: $200,000,000.
Opening Weekend: $53,174,303.
Domestic Gross: $116,601,172.
My Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ (1/10).


I’ve been meaning to give this incredibly controversial movie a shot once I had finished re-reading the manga series. Here I am completely astonished that it is actually possible to be beyond disappointed even after having set the bar below ground level. This original Netflix movie is the biggest disrespect to the manga series and there wasn’t a single moment that managed to gather my jaw back up from the ground as I remained impressed and in awe at how much butchering went on. Death Note (2017) turned out to be a wanton disregard to the ideas of the source material, one that merits it a spot among the worse live-action movie adaptation of any manga or comic book of all time. This is what you get when you fuse Twilight with Final Destination as the romance and hyper-violence make for a disgusting cocktail that warrants a never-ending vomit from its viewers.

Image result for death note 2017 gif

What is Death Note (2017) about? Although it is a messy and cringe-worthy adaptation of the manga series, the story takes bits and small pieces of the original story and condenses it within a movie of not even 100 minutes. The story is thus set in Seattle where Light Turner picks up a notebook where he discovers a jumble of rules that frames the usage of the so-called Death Note. Accompanied by a devilish partner, Mia Sutton, with whom he shares his secret god-like powers, they both decide to go on their own intimate version of “Netflix and Chill”—or rather “Death Note and Kill”. As they both look to put an end to all the criminals and terrorists around the world, you then have an Afro-American “L”—thus begins discussions on white/black-washing—who looks to put an end to this individual who goes by the name of “Kira”.

Let me start by ripping to pieces the casting for Light. You couldn’t have picked the goofiest looking dude to play the role of a character known for great posture, incredible intelligence and an ability to adapt to situations without breaking a sweat. What we have instead is a kid who looks like he has intense social issues, screams in high-pitched voices when he finds himself in trouble and runs away from said trouble as if he was drunk and had something stuck up his bum. It doesn’t help either when most of the casting choices were just as bad as Light’s. L was another terrible take on the original character as the real L’s sense of calm, organization and discrete analytical reflection is replaced with an emotional and unconvincing know-it-all who showcases no proofs of his intellect. And then there’s Mia’s character. A despicable individual who serves as the “pure evil” alter ego of Light and who draws upon manipulation and pleasure as her key tools towards selfish goals.

Image result for death note 2017 gif

The story is what further destroys the movie’s hopes of redeeming itself at any point in time. With the first quarter of the movie focused on introducing the notebook and the characters, the second quarter looked to build on the relationship between Light and Mia with the notebook being their main and only connection. The second half of the movie looks to expand on the dull and accelerated confrontation between Light and L until its finale, predictably, turns things around and piles up plot holes on top of plot holes. One of the worse moments was when Light started to have verbal control on people he had written their names in the Death Note. Anything to move the plot forward, right?

While I liked the idea of Willem Dafoe as the Shinigami Ryuk, his character was also destroyed. His cackle is the only reason I’m even giving this movie any stars. But to actually give the Death God an active role in the story was unacceptable. The innocent omniscient bystander that he is in the manga was nowhere to be seen in this movie, especially when he turns into a sadist who wants things to go wrong. But that’s when you understand that this movie is free of any form of characterization with all of its characters unidimensional and incomprehensible in their motives actions. In fact, the movie doesn’t ever try to adapt the original story—even giving the impression that the director and screenplay writers haven’t read the manga or watched the anime—but actually rips off the premise in order to explore the question of justice in an American context.

Death Note (2017) is a disrespectful and obnoxious live-action adaptation that bleeds with carelessness, stupidity and horrible acting performances.


Be warned. It is not what you think it is. If there’s any live-action adaptation of this manga that you should try, it’s the Japanese movie directed by Shūsuke Kaneko in 2016!

Have you read Death Note?
Have you tried the anime or any of the movie adaptations? What did you think about them?
Share your thoughts with me!



57 thoughts on “Death Note | Manga vs. Movie

  1. I LOVED the movie portion of this review. It just made me laugh 😀 By the time I’d watched it, I had no emotional connection to the manga any more, so it just didn’t bother me that it was a complete butchering of the original. It is a real example of why I’m always leery of Hollywood getting their hands on something though, as they always try to be “clever” and end up ruining a good franchise with bad whatevers. I found the casting and acting by L to be the worst though, as you noted, there was zero evidence of him being a super genius.

    Great reviews overall. Do you think you’ll ever review the japanese movies (all 4 or 5 of them) and tv show?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I sort of had a liiiiiitttle bit of hope when you told me that you were able to “enjoy” it and see it as a different take on the manga but man, that was too much. I couldn’t digest this. No casting choice here was proper, except maybe Ryuk, and even then, nothing about the story allows me to enjoy this version of Ryuk!

      I do plan on revisiting the Japanese movie, and watching the 4th one that I hadn’t had the chance to try. I’ll keep the anime for much later, when I’ll have a craving to revisit the story. Watching the anime will be a nice alternative to re-re-reading the manga now. 😀

      I did hear… that there are some secret plans to do a sequel to this Netflix movie… I’m internally bleeding and crying at the idea of a sequel…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the netflix version bombed bad enough that a sequel is out of the question. Why throw good money after bad? Of course, if they do a sequel, I’ll be watching it 😀 hahahahaaa

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, too bad about the movie. Unfortunately it’s quite often that parts aren’t adapted in movies, but this sounds like they didn’t even try. That stinks, especially if the graphic novel was so great. An excellent review, Lashaan. I will have to check this at my library. The graphic novels section has really improved immensely over the last two years. My favorite section to browse in 🙂 Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh no, I assure you, Scarlett, they didn’t try at all to respect the source material. They figuratively spat on it. I’d definitely recommend checking out the manga or the anime if you’re ever curious. And even if your library doesn’t have a manga section, I’m sure there graphic novel section must be quite impressive! Have an awesome weekend! 😀


  3. Oh no! Urgh how did they get it so wrong? I have always considered The Golden Compass to be the worst book-to-movie adaptation ever made but by the sounds of this I might have to reevaluate.

    On the plus side though thank you for reminding me that Death Note exists. I also want through a pretty intense high school manga phase but never got around to reading this one. The concept sounds so interesting! I think I might have to pick it up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think a lot of it depends on how much you love the source material. In this case, it’s not only that I loved the manga, they really made no effort in making the movie appealing in any form whatsoever!

      Oh my! If you had any interest in manga, then I believe Death Note might be one worth checking out! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading some initial reviews, I decided never to watch this adaptation, and you made me even more sure that choice was the correct one 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew the moment they dropped the trailer way back then that it was going to flop. The casting was so wrong (except for Willem Defoe as Ryuk but that couldn’t save the movie). You can definitely avoid this happily. Unless you need a bad movie here and then, then this is a perfect candidate!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well Lashaan manga and anime are my son’s jam. But I am not totally honest saying this as even if I am closer to fifty than fourty now when I was a kid we had “japanese cartoons” that looked furiously like anime and that I really liked (The Zodiac Knights? I don’t know if it’s the correct name in English for example. Goldorak, Albator among others …). Now I agree with you on the artwork above that’s a really really good job!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent reviews!! Death note has always sounded like such an interesting concept and world to me- I’ve been interested in picking it up for a while, but you’ve got me completely sold. Shame the Yotsuba group storyline tested your patience though. But the artwork and discreet emotional changes sound like they were done well. And great that the ending was so satisfying. Such a shame that the adaptation is so cringeworthy. It really sucks that it didn’t even try to adapt the original story- I hate when adaptations do that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! There’s plenty to appreciate in the manga/anime/Japane movies. It might seem like it’s sometimes overstretched but in the long run, it’s a story that explores some fascinating concepts. On the other hand, the Netflix movie adaptation is one that is worth staying away from. I don’t even think that a person who has never read or seen anything Death Note would be able to appreciate this movie either hahah


  7. I’m so sorry the movie turned out so awful. It’s one I have been ever so slightly curious about, just because of the title (I didn’t know it was based off of Manga, either), but I haven’t really looked into it at all and I think I will stay far away from it. I really enjoyed your review on it, though!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Haha, wow…so you didn’t like the Netflix movie then? Seriously though, a great comparison review! I’ve heard bits and pieces about Death Note and the anime series was on my viewing list at one point…until Netflix removed it (same has recently happened to me with Young Justice, a few episodes in and Amazon decided to remove both seasons…arg)! I’m much more into the sci-fi end of things but will always check out something more supernatural/horror based if it’s well conceived and well written.

    I really need to get into some Manga, as you know I love a lot of the older iconic anime like Ghost in the Shell, Akira so seems like a no-brainer really. In fact I’m watching the Ultraman anime series at the moment – have you checked that out at all? There’s not a great deal of depth to it and it’s more action driven but it’s a decent watch. Think I may look at the Manga run it’s based on.

    As for Netlifx’s Death Note, hopefully they’ll do MUCH better with the live action Cowboy Bebop series (man, they better not mess that up)!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh man, that’s got to be the worse. I haven’t yet experienced that but I would have been pretty saddened by it. Odd that they took out Young Justice though, I think we still have it. But the Death Note anime is one that we don’t.

      Ah yes, I think you can pick up a nice selection of manga to check out, since your interests filters out a lot of the less “goofy/silly/serious” ones!

      I haven’t tried the Ultraman series out since I wasn’t too sure if it would deliver. It is a bit tempting but the visual art style is a bit of a double-edged sword for me on that one.

      I hear they might even give the Netflix Death Note movie a sequel… Gosh… Don’t know what’s going through their minds. And yes! I’m very skeptic about the Cowboy Bebop adaptation too but I think the cast rumours (or maybe they’re not rumours anymore) is quite promising!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t seen the movie, but it definitely sounds really bad. From what you mention here it only continues to sound worse and worse. I’ll probably see it one day, but I’m certainly in no rush

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve avoided watching the movie adaptation so far (seen the anime, not read the manga) because the trailer looked like a piss poor idea of what the original was trying to do. Thanks for this review, it confirms my worst suspicions – that they saw the concept of a Death Note thought ‘oh that’s a cool idea’ and then completely stripped it of its nuance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started with the manga and the anime way back in high school myself. When I first heard Netflix was going to do an adaptation of Death Note, I was at first excited (it was around the time where Netflix was quickly growing into a huge powerhouse for great movies/shows) but then when the casting came.. it went downhill.. and the trailer then put the nail on the coffin. I can assure you that it’s a waste of time and should only be investigated if you’re curious on HOW bad it really is. And it’s… preeeeetty bad! 😮

      P.S. Is it just me or I can’t seem to access your blog? Is your URL something else and not: Or maybe your blog is just offline nowadays? 😮

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Usually, it’s through the Gravatar page that you can modify that link so that it’s easier for people to click on your name and find your blog. But thanks for letting me know! I’ll definitely drop by soon enough! 😀


      2. I did update everywhere I could think of, including Gravatar, since reading your comment so let’s hopefully it works!
        Thanks Lashaan 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hahahha yeah its why I have a huge to watch list on Netflix! 😀 I’ve tried to read this several times and just never got into it. Every time I read a review of Deathnote I try to read it again because I just don’t get why I don’t love it to pieces. Even though the premise is so neat! Why wouldn’t like the good guy being the villain of the story?! That sounds so cool….

    Liked by 1 person

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