Death Note has been adapted from its manga origins into an anime, video games, a musical, and several Japanese live-action movies. Now it’s getting the English-language film treatment via Netflix. The live-action adaptation will premiere on August 25th. If the teaser trailer released today looks puzzling or even a little cheesy to you, then let me give you this one nugget of advice: go watch the anime on Netflix or Hulu.
Unlike Western teen-centric shows, which often focus on romance or petty drama, Death Note grapples with gray-area morality. It follows a high schooler named Light Yagami who stumbles across a notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written in it; he becomes a wielder of vigilante justice and starts using it to wipe out criminals. The idea of an angsty teenager being given the power to kill people he deems worthy of death would be morbidly funny if it weren’t absolutely terrifying.
The anime spans 37 episodes, each running a little over 20 minutes each, in subbed or English dubbed versions. It’s binge-friendly, but just as enjoyable when picked at here and there.
I have no idea how Netflix’s film adaptation will turn out. It has both Willem Dafoe and mopey Seattle teens, which cancel each other out on the scale of Good vs. Bad things. But I do feel confident that it can’t possibly cover everything the anime does. It’s a movie. Movies are short. Look, that’s just math.
This story has been updated to include streaming options for Netflix and Hulu.