Japanese Manga series 'Death Note' achieved a cult status all over the world thanks to an animated television series adapted from writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata's work. Now, Netflix is producing a film based on the Manga title. The only problem is that most of the actors are white Americans. Now an online petition boycotting the movie for whitewashing has secured over 13,101 signatures out of the required 14,000.
Fans of the original Japanese Manga or anime have took to the internet and social media to decry the alleged racism in the casting choices made for the 'Death Note' adaptation. The petition began by a Sarah Rose looks set to complete its goal.
The petitioner notes, "The story itself is full of Japanese culture, history, and identity - and the Japanese narrative is essential to the plot and storytelling," adding, "Death Note shouldn't be cast with all white actors - as it goes against the very soul of the story." However, the Netflix adaptation has a Seattle, Washington setting and isn't solely about Japanese culture.
In fact, up-and-coming American actor Edward Zo had posted a video message on YouTube in 2015, as noted by deathnotenews.com, claiming he was asked not to audition for the Netflix adaptation of 'Death Note' because of his being Asian. Hollywood certainly has a history with whitewashing, apparent in the Scarlett Johansson starrer 'Ghost in the Shell' and the Marvel Series, 'Iron Fist,' both of which are embroiled in controversies.
However, it should also be kept in mind that 'Death Note' isn't the first official adaptation of the Manga series. Apart from the anime television series, there were four live-action films based in Japan, featuring a Japanese cast and also miniseries, and even musicals. So, an American adaptation need not be such a bad idea after so many Japanese adaptations.
'Death Note' stars 'The Fault in Our Stars' actor Nat Wolff as Light Turner who picks up a diary that falls from the skies and becomes obsessed with killing people by writing people's names on it. Note the change of surname from the Japanese Yagami to Turner. Actor and Rapper Lakeith Stanfield will play the mysterious detective known simply as L, who tries to stop the lead character. Spider-Man actor Willem Dafoe, famous for playing antagonists, will lend voice to the Death God character Ryuk. Dafoe's voice should be enough to justify the price of admission alone.
'Death Note' directed by Adam Wingard is scheduled for release on August 25, this year. Watch the teaser below.