So, interestingly, I watched this series alongside the two live action Death Note movies. Part of it is because I loved those movies so much, and another part is to do a little side-by-side comparison (though I won't judge this series strictly by those movies' merits).
The first thing (or rather, first two things) you might notice is the change in character demeanor compared to the anime. Light (Masataka Kubota) looks more "emo" and insecure, while L (Kento Yamazaki) is... ugh, smiling. L doesn't smile... often. He's supposed to be this stoic and emotionless awkward boy, not this smexy bishounen.
But over time, I became accustomed to Spider-Man 3 Knock-Off, Emo Light, because he actually becomes more deranged and more Kira-like over the course of the series. This is effective. First, it accomplishes what I liked about the live action movies - that Light becomes relatable. He's now this mild-mannered high school kid who just happens to find the deadliest weapon in the world instead of some super genius with an ego, so he's now even more likable than movie Light (Tatsuya still beats him in terms of acting caliber, however).
The second thing you'll notice is the changes they made to the story. This is good. As I've said before in my Death Note movie review, adaptations have the problem of having a familiar tale, so changing up the story can be refreshing - but only if you do it right. This drama does do it right because it not only allows the introduction of live action Near AND Mello, it also keeps L as the mastermind behind it all (no more "Near isn't L" complaints because it's still L that's steering the wheel). Also, I really like what they did with Mello... whom I won't spoil about.
I won't complain too much about the casting because I have to accept that this is a lower budget TV production. But being a TV series has its merits as it's able to adapt much more content than the movies. The J-drama goes even deeper into the philosophical debate of whether if Kira is justice and whether if killing criminals is justified... But unfortunately, most of that debate is only interesting on Kira's side. L and the police sort of just sprout meaningless platitudes about how "justice always wins", how "killing is wrong", etc. Nothing actually compelling, no hard arguments.
And this makes the exchange between Light and his father much less interesting than it could've been. Unlike the anime and manga, his father
in both of these Japanese live action formats, so there was potential for an interesting conversation between father and son. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned, there were only platitudes given by his father, so it's not so much a conversation as it's a lecture by Light to the deaf ears of Soichiro. Same thing with Light and L.
But it's not all bad, because among these conversations, they do say some interesting stuff to each other. Soichiro feels like if Light is ever Kira, it would be his responsibility because Light's first, or technically, first intentional kill was a criminal who held his father hostage, so he had no choice but to write his name. Soichiro went on to say that he didn't feel that Kira was evil, but that the notebook was evil, and the drama portrays this beautifully. After Light made that second kill, his mind became poisoned by the notebook and he just spiraled down into madness from there. So despite what I said about Tatsuya being the better actor, Masataka here actually portrays Light the way he should be very effectively - a sympathetic child turned into a monster through the curse of Death Note.
Then there's L. At the end, it was said that L wanted to see Light's point of view on justice, and he almost didn't want to reveal Light because he wanted to learn whether if Light was right about Kira making a better world. So the drama does accomplish philosophical musings that the movies couldn't, and I consider that an excellent step-up.
There were other things the drama adapted that the movies couldn't, such as the Yotsuba Arc and even Mikami the public prosecutor (Shugo Oshinari). Personally, I felt that the Yotsuba Arc was pointless, even more so than the movies' Kiyomi Takada Arc. At least with Takada, there was the significance of saying something, that as a woman, Takada was in a position without power and was even sexually harassed by her boss. If you're knowledgeable about Japan, you should know that sex crimes in Japan (and just laws protecting women in general) can be a big and significant problem. However, with Yotsuba, all that was said was that people would use the Death Note for greed... Okay, Captain Obvious?
On the other hand, Mikami was excellent. He's just as unhinged (well, almost) as his anime counterpart, and I love him. Shugo did a great job with him, playing up his insanity, and he's definitely one of the biggest highlights of the Near Arc in the drama.
Hinako Sano as Misa this time round just isn't as interesting as Erika Toda, I'm afraid, in spite of having a hair color closer to the source material. Not only does she lack the bubbly and bouncy charm of Erika, they just didn't do anything that different with the character as opposed to everything and everyone else. They made her Death Note red, so that's something, but aside from aesthetic changes, nothing much (there was also the change of Misa's age when her family was killed). There is one small significant change, however, but it involves Light more than Misa, which is that Light is a fan of Misa as part of his "everyday high school student" character change.
Mio Yūki as Near/Mello is an interesting casting, and not just because of the gender change. She presents a more compassionate side that the haughty L (and boy, is he haughty in this one) sometimes lacks. One thing that has always bothered me about Near was that aesthetically-wise, he just came off too much as an L clone. Regardless of certain YouTubers' explanation of their individual and distinct personality, I still firmly feel that this is true, aesthetically-wise. But here, we get to see two different kinds of L, Near and Mello, which keeps things more interesting and made the Near Arc less of a bore.
One thing I didn't like about the Near Arc here is that, while I didn't enjoy the arc in the anime, I wish they kept the scene where Near orchestrated money being thrown to Kira fans. That was an important scene that showed how empty Kira's fans were, and it adds to the whole "Is Kira justice?" debate. Instead, the Near Arc here is very much like "Death Note: The Last Name", a cat-and-mouse game renewed. I found the arc kinda boring because of that. It felt like almost a drag. At the point when L steps out of the game, I wanted to see Kira's new world already, not him trying to escape the cops. The drama, unfortunately, didn't even offer that much, unlike the anime.
There was one saving grace to the Near Arc here, however - the "death scene" at the end was particularly violent. It's one thing to see it in anime form, but when in live action, that blood with all the screaming can be quite unnerving, and you start to see what Near was talking about when she called him "a pathetic and hopeless murderer".
But I didn't like how it all ended. There was a bigger focus on L than Light in the final moments of the series, which is the opposite of the movies. I wish they could've said something like, "Oh, if only Light didn't acquire the notebook in the first place", something like that, especially when that message was what they've been building up towards in the entire series, that him becoming Kira was a tragedy.
That being said, because of this focus on Light's internal struggle with his use of the Death Note, I feel that the J-drama brought together the best of both worlds - a sympathetic Kira, and a more faithful adaptation of the anime. And I'm glad I got to catch this celebration of this still unbeatable manga masterpiece.
Old Man Dream: Have bad news and good news regarding Pop Team Epic. Bad news, I didn't realize Tubi only had the first five episodes of the series on their site, so that's as far as I can go with it on there. Good news, Retro Crush thankfully has the full series up...
Aug 23, 2021 12:21:21 GMT
Old Man Dream: ...on their site, so I'll be watching the remainder of the series from there. Should be able to wrap it up by later this week, as I expect to be a little slower in my progression of it during the week.
Aug 23, 2021 12:22:18 GMT
Taka: That is bizarre for Tubi TV to only have 5 episodes.
Aug 24, 2021 3:09:21 GMT