Wingard Talks Adapting “Death Note” For U.S.

We’ll shortly be getting to see “The Guest” and “You’re Next” director Adam Wingard’s “Death Note,” a live-action Netflix original film adaptation of the acclaimed manga series.

The most notable element of this take on “Death Note” is that the story is relocated from Japan to the United States. Unlike say “Ghost in the Shell” which retained the Japanese elements and setting and ‘whitewashed’ the lead character, what’s here is more akin to “The Ring” in that the location change has also yielded some fundamental changes to the story from characters to tone to subplots and more.

Speaking with IGN recently about the decision to use an American setting, Wingard says that the story simply couldn’t be ported to anywhere in the world without fundamental adjustments to the core concept:

“In the early stages of the film I was reading all of the manga, really just looking at how does any of this translate to the United States. Ultimately, Death Note is such a Japanese thing. You can’t just say let’s port this over and it’s all going to add up. They’re two different worlds completely.

It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100% true to the source material, the more it just kind of fell apart… You’re in a different country, you’re in a different kind of environment, and you’re trying to also summarize a sprawling series into a two-hour long film.”

The result was that the themes of the original manga had to be reconsidered from an American perspective:

“Ultimately, whenever I say it’s about America, I’m looking at it like, what are the main kind of core issues going on in America, what are the things that people chalk up to conspiracy theories? What kind of weird underground programs does the government have? How do these work in the world of Death Note.”

“Death Note” is officially slated to be released on the streaming network on August 25th.