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Adam Wingard Talks Translating ‘DEATH NOTE’ to an American Story

July 15, 2017

death note header

Director Adam Wingard recently to IGN and revealed that it was difficult for him trying to adapt the Japanese manga and transporting the story to the United States.

“In the early stages of the film, I was rereading 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 going to all add up.’ They’re two different worlds completely. 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 those work in the world of ‘DEATH NOTE.’?”

Bringing the story to an American setting means that he also had to figure out a core theme. Fans shouldn’t expect something loyal from the material that’s for sure.

“It’s one of those things where the harder I tried to stay 100 percent 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. For me, it became about what do these themes mean to modern day America, and how does that affect how we tell the story. Ultimately, the cat and mouse chase between Light and L, the themes of good, evil, and what’s in between the gray area. Those are the core things of DEATH NOTE, and that’s really what we went for.”

Death Note hits Netflix on August 25.


  1. I wish they were calling them shinigami and not just “death gods.” But I’m just basing this off the trailer so maybe they do use the term in the movie at some point.

    • star010 permalink

      I’m not really too keen with this “American version”, but let’s hope so.

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