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The ‘Death Note’ Trailer Gives the Manga Series New Life

The second teaser for the Netflix film suggests the Willem Dafoe–, Keith Stanfield–, and Nat Wolff–led adaptation might do the beloved anime title justice

Three months after dropping a debut trailer that was exciting but a bit thin on line readings and plot specifics, Netflix released the second trailer for its live-action film adaptation of the classic manga and anime series Death Note. Where the first teaser was sparse and flat, Thursday’s trailer is beautiful and promising — and it has finally got me excited to see some live actors do a beloved anime title justice.

The original Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, is a 12-volume manga series that Japan’s popular comics anthology magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump finished publishing in 2006. Just as the manga series concluded its print run, Japanese television started airing an anime adaptation of Death Note, produced by the acclaimed studio Madhouse. In the U.S., the anime series is the most popular version of Death Note, one of the most widely beloved anime titles of the past couple decades.

Death Note follows Light Yagami, a vengeful high school student who discovers a mysterious notebook — the titular death note — which promises its user the power to kill whoever’s name is transcribed in its pages. Light Yagami’s initial usage of the notebook alerts the quirky, reclusive detective L, whose investigation of the murders linked to the death note draw him into a duel of fates with Light Yagami. In Netflix’s live-action adaptation, Keith Stanfield will play L, Nat Wolff will play Light (renamed Turner), and Willem Dafoe will play Light’s demon godfather Ryuk.

Directed by Adam Wingard, the Netflix feature has faced early criticism for the Westernizaton of the original series’ Japanese characters: lead actor Wolff is white, and Stanfield is black American.

The new trailer packs that much of the premise into 120 seconds, though it’s so far unclear how the studio will have pared the whole series (37 episodes worth of cliffhangers and plot twists) down to a single, reasonably long movie. This latest teaser footage introduces us to the obsessive, computational detective L, whom Stanfield plays pitch perfectly. We’re less than a month away from seeing how the rest of his investigation team fares. Meanwhile, I’ll be excited to deduce whether Death Note goes down in my own personal scribblings as the rare U.S. anime adaptation that really does bring new life to its source material.

(Netflix/Warner Bros.)
(Netflix/Warner Bros.)