Kubota Masataka and Yamazaki Kento lead live-action Death Note

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It’s been almost ten years since the hit manga Death Note was adapted into a two-part movie (and that weird spin-off movie that we don’t talk about), so naturally, NTV decided it was about time to adapt it again. Because obviously the anime, musicals, and merchandise wasn’t enough.

NTV announced the adaption a while back for the upcoming summer season, but it was up in the air who they would cast. I half-expected NTV to take the safe route and cast someone like Kamiki Ryuunouske, Shota Sometani, Yamada Ryouske, or even Sota Fukushi, so I’m pleasantly surprised that they didn’t go for the usual suspects. Kubota Masataka will play anti-hero Light Yagami while Yamazaki Kento will play his eccentric rival, the mysterious L.

If you haven’t read or watched Death Note, the supernatural, psychological thriller follows the genius high school student Light Yagami that discovers the Death Note after it’s dropped by the shinigami (death god) Ryuk into the human world. As implied, when a person’s name is written in the notebook, they die, though there are certain rules to follow. Light, sick of the incompetence of the justice system, uses the notebook to get rid of criminals, but his actions don’t go unnoticed and a special task force is assembled to catch the mysterious murderer known as Kira. Leading the task force is the famous detective L and so a game of cat and mouse begins.

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My feelings are kind of mixed on this. Shouldn’t the roles be reversed? I know looks aren’t everything, but c’mon, Yamazaki is a dead ringer for Light and he’s been playing high-school students forever; he was made to play Light. Looks aside, I think it would be hard for any actor to follow up on Matsuyama Kenichi’s performance as L which was one of the few redeemable parts of the live-action movies and Yamazaki has mostly made a name for himself doing rom-coms, so I’m a bit more apprehensive about him taking on this role, though I’m crossing my fingers that I’m wrong.

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I’m happy that Kubota is finally getting a lead role and if his performance as the guilt-ridden Shinji in N no Tame ni proved anything, it’s that he can pull off a character as twisted and double-faced as Light, but I hope they write his character better than they did in the movies.

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The big question mark is newbie actress Yuki Mio. Yuki will be playing Near, a character that hasn’t appeared in any live-action adaptation and, in the the manga and anime, is male. Like, what? I don’t understand why Near has to be female; it’s not like there aren’t any important female characters in Death Note, like Misa Amane and Kiyomi Takada or even FBI agent Naomi Misora. It really makes me wonder what the heck NTV is thinking and I’m slightly worried about how this adaptation is going to go.

At any rate, they’ve managed to peak my interest and Death Note is one of my favorite anime, so I’ll at least check out the first episode. Death Note airs in July.

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