Manga purists, or intensely devoted fans, will always go to extreme lengths to ensure film adaptations will always stick to its roots.
This is why Netflix’ latest “Death Note” live action film has received the ire of the Japanese manga’s immense cult following.
After multiple accusations of “whitewashing” its predominantly Asian cast, thousands of internet users have signed the online petition to boycott the internet television’s upcoming live-action version.
— Ryan (@LazerShow530) March 23, 2017
According to Rocket News, the appeal has already reached its target of 15,000 signatures, while citing the studio’s unorthodox casting decisions—in a film that should be “full of Japanese culture, history, and identity”.
The upcoming film, slated for an August 25 release, has already garnered international attention, especially to Western audiences.
This prompted the Japanese community to air their concerns, particularly towards the casting of African-American actor Keith Stanfield as the detective-extraordinaire, L.
“The thing that’s out of place is L being black,” one commenter wrote in the petition, as relayed by the news outlet. “Going by the original manga, L being black is by far stranger. It just doesn’t feel like it fits his character.”
Others, meanwhile, compared Death Note’s casting to the recently released “Ghost in the Shell” movie, billed by American actress Scarlett Johansson. The film had a strong showing in the box office, albeit mixed reviews from fans who also did not appreciate Hollywood’s “Americanized version.”
Still, some defended Netflix’s version and asked to wait for the film to be released before jumping into conclusions.
“If this takes place at an American high school, then having white actors isn’t an issue,” another unidentified commenter wrote. “It’s a Hollywood version, so it’s okay to have white people. It’s like the Hollywood Godzilla. It’s the Hollywood version so having foreigners isn’t a problem.”
Netflix’s “Death Note” stars Natt Wolff as Light Turner (Light Yagami in the manga) and his quest to “cleanse humanity” through the use of a supernatural notebook, with the power to kill anyone whose name is written on it.
The manga was serialized in 2003, while an anime adaptation first aired in Japan in 2006. Khristian Ibarrola/JB