Netflix’s Death Note Faces Whitewashing Controversy

Netflix has found themselves in the middle of a second whitewashing controversy over the live-action adaptation of Death Note. They previously got entangling with accusations of whitewashing for casting Finn Jones, a white actor, to play the Asian character Danny Rand in Iron Fist.

Shortly after Netflix released the Death Note trailer, fans took to social media accusing Netflix of whitewashing the cast, even though Netflix played no role in the casting decisions. Actors Nate Wolf and Margaret Qualley were cast as Light Turner (Light Yagami) and Mia Sutton (Misa Amane) in 2015, while Netflix didn’t buy the movie rights from Warner Bros. until 2016. Production first met whitewashing controversy in 2015, after Asian-American actor Edward Zo was refused the part of Light for “looking too Asian.

A petition has been circulating asking fans to boycott the streaming release of Death Note. As of this writing, 14,206 supporters have signed the petition. Initial Japanese reaction to Netflix’s first trailer and casting choices has been as mixed as the rest of the community’s.

Death Note is being directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest) and transplants the story from Japan to Seattle, Washington. The adaptation is more of an Americanization of the Death Note story, with producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin commenting:

“Our vision for Death Note has always been to bring this captivating story to the screen for its longtime manga fans and to introduce the world to this dark and mysterious masterpiece. The talent and diversity represented in our cast, writing and producing teams reflect our belief in staying true to the story’s concept of moral relevance – a universal theme that knows no racial boundaries.”

Death Note

Netflix is planning on releasing Death Note on August 25, 2017. What are your thoughts on Death Note‘s whitewashing controversy?

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Aaron Magulick has been a fan of anime ever since being exposed to it in the late '90s. A fan of nearly all genres, he is not afraid to explore the creepier side of the industry.
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