The teaser trailer for the live action adaptation of beloved anime Death Note was released on March 22, but even before the teaser was released there was scrutiny of the casting.
Death Note “…centers around a high school student named Light Yagami, who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone simply by writing the victim’s name while picturing his or her face. Disgusted with the amount of crime in the world, Light decides to use the notebook to eliminate criminals and become the “god” of a “New World,” inhabited only by those that he deems “good.”” And based on the teaser, the live action film seems to follow the same lines. Except for the location and casting.
In the 2017 American film adaptation, the location will be Seattle, Washington instead of Japan. And the main character is white, instead of Japanese. Nat Wolff is playing Light Turner, Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) is L, and Willem DaFoe will play Ryuk. But many critics and fans are not happy with how the casting and location was handled. Many have questioned why an Asian actor wasn’t cast in the lead.
Death Note is following the same controversy as another recently released anime adaptation, Ghost in the Shell. Scarlett Johansson was cast as the film’s protagonist, a character who is Japanese in the source material. CNN sources tell us that, “Asian actors made up just 5.1% of speaking or named characters across film, television and digital series in 2014, according to a University of Southern California study released last year.” And the excuse that the film is an adaptation based in America does not really work. Because since when does America mean white?
Netflix is also still dealing with criticism over casting in Iron Fist with the same issue. Will viewers of the anime and readers of the manga still tune in? We’d love to know what our readers thing of this controversy. Leave your opinions in the comments.