It looks like the creators of Stranger Things can’t go wrong right now – that is, unless you announce a new live-action Death Note project for Netflix that immediately annoys fans.
That’s right, The Duffer Brothers – the showrunners of Stranger Things – are developing a Death Note TV series for Netflix. Announced in a press release, The Duffer Brothers revealed that their new production company, Upside Down Pictures, will produce multiple films and shows for the world’s biggest streamer. Enter that number? An all-new live-action TV adaptation of the iconic manga series by Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.
So what’s the fuss? Well, Netflix has tried an adaptation of Death Note before and, suffice it to say, fans have done. no I like that. No way.
In 2017, a film adaptation of Netflix’s Death Note was universally panned by fans and critics, with many questioning why a western adaptation was necessary. Five years later, Netflix’s Death Note is still one of the company’s biggest flops, with a 23% critical rating (opens in new tab) (among general movie fans) on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
You can see, then, why Death Note fans have been vociferous about Netflix’s latest attempt at a live-action adaptation.
A quick look at Twitter and sites like ResetEra shows that fans are largely opposed to the idea. Several ResetEra users, including Khanimus (opens in new tab), Propeller (opens in new tab), 808s and villainy (opens in new tab)and Merc_ (opens in new tab) all expressed considerable concerns about a Netflix Death Note TV series. Meanwhile, fans responded to the official announcement from Netflix’s Twitter account in droves, with most lashing out at the streamer for trying to adapt the popular manga again.
Haven’t you pissed enough on Death Note’s legacy? It was terrible. Everyone hated it. Even the people who were in it, hated it. Stop. You guys ruined Death Note once, you butchered Cowboy Bebop like a wild boar. You are not good at this. Stop thinking you’re good at it.July 6, 2022
The one thing fans seem to agree on, though, is that the Duffer Brothers might just be the right individuals to spearhead a live-action Death Note project.
Clearly, the duo has a knack for sci-fi supernatural horror-centric productions. You just have to look at the unprecedented success they (and Netflix by proxy) have had with Stranger Things. The fourth season of the hit show has been breaking all sorts of Netflix records, including becoming the first English-language Netflix series to break the billion-hour mark within a month of its release. Add in the duo’s other sci-fi and/or mystery thriller projects like Wayward Pines and Hidden, which have also been well received by fans and critics, and the Duffers know what they’re doing.
With a fifth and final season of Stranger Things, plus a Stranger Things spin-off and play (both are also being developed by Upside Down Pictures) down the road, Netflix clearly has complete confidence in The Duffer Brothers as they continue to deliver hit after hit for their streaming platform. That trust will surely flow both ways too, otherwise the Duffers wouldn’t have signed an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2019 (opens in new tab) to keep doing stuff for the streamer.
That said, there is a possibility that a live-action Death Note TV show could be a step too far, even for the Duffer brothers. Of course, they’re Netflix’s golden boys right now, and the unparalleled success of Stranger Things seems to make them a good fit for this project.
However, history has shown that it can be difficult for writers, directors and even actors in the entertainment industry to emerge from the shadow of their greatest successes. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss are a classic example. Okay, the final season of Game of Thrones was a mess, but the duo was installed as the next big thing to take Hollywood by storm ahead of the show’s eighth season’s poor reception.
Weiss and Benioff were the flavor of the month for a long time, but the careless final season of Game of Thrones soon saw fan opinions of the duo change. If Netflix’s Death Note TV series follows suit, it could tarnish the Duffer Brothers’ reputation in the same way, which would be disappointing to see.
Old school Death Note fans like pic.twitter.com/Q927CZnHK3July 6, 2022
Netflix should pay attention to the reception its previous live-action adaptations of iconic anime and manga have also received. Its TV adaptation of Cowboy Bebop was hidden out of nowhere from the moment it was announced. And, after its less positive reception among fans and critics, it wasn’t surprising to see it canceled after a single season. Netflix’s live-action movie adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist didn’t fare well either – it’s humiliating 28% Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score (opens in new tab) serving as proof of that.
Clearly though, Netflix hasn’t been held back from creating more live-action shows and movies based on classic anime and manga. One Piece, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and even Pokémon are getting the live-action treatment on Netflix. Regardless of what fans think, Netflix isn’t about to end its live-action anime and manga offerings.
The Duffer Brothers can deliver an unexpected shock, delivering a live-action Death Note series that wows established fans. If they do, Netflix will certainly feel justified in handing the reins of this project to the creators of their most successful English-language show.
Still, we can’t help but feel that Netflix should put a cap on its quest to remake Death Note in a live-action capacity. You’ve tried and failed – what’s the point of trying again?
We’ll leave the final word to ‘s resident anime/manga expert Jess Weatherbed, who, despite her love of Stranger Things and The Duffer Brothers in general, sums up fans’ feelings about yet another live-action adaptation of Death Note.
“Looking at the immediate reaction from the anime community, there is very little excitement and a lot more apprehension, and I share that sentiment as a longtime Death Note fan. check this for regionality), which makes this feel more like an attempt to fix a previous mistake than a project geared towards what fans want.
“I love Stranger Things and am excited about what The Duffer Brothers will bring in future projects. But they really need to be careful when handling this project. Western interpretations of anime have historically been notoriously bad, and I don’t know many fans of the series. iconic that really want a live-action adaptation after how many times it has been tried.”