Monday, May 4, 2009

Americanization: Some Things Just Don't Translate

I knew this was coming for a long, long time.

This post is a bit personal for me. I love "Death Note", a Japanese Manga/Anime that was one of the best and smartest things I've ever seen. WB has decided to bring the live action version to America. The english dubbed anime was horrendous, there was so much lost in the translation; the dialogue, the inflection, the tone, ugh... the nightmares still haunt me. Death Note is, in my opinion, THE SMARTEST story of the last 10 years, it will have to be dumbed down for American Mainstream Audiences, and it will lose everything that made it great. This is the one time I wish I had the power NOT to make a film happen. I don't want it ruined. Some things just don't need to be adapted. But, I understand the power this industry has; and I can't fault it for being what it is... can I?

What is Death Note? A college student stumbles upon a misplaced “death note” and acquires the power to kill simply by writing a person’s name on the page while thinking of the person. How’s that for power? That could be someone you’d want to keep as a friend. Or an employee whose request for a raise you wouldn’t want to turn down. It’s the premise of the 13 volume Japanese manga best seller “Death Note” and it looks like it will be coming to a theater near you in a live action adaptation. Warner Bros. has picked up the rights and will use the first three books written by Tsugumi Ohba with illustrations by Takeshi Obata, published by Shueisha Inc. as the basis for the film.

Warner Bros. previously made three Japanese language Death Note films, which were... sub par, in terms of plot, but the new versions will be inspired by the original manga.

Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo will produce with Brian Witten and Dan Lin’s Lin Pictures. Screenwriters Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, War of the Gods, Live Bet, will be penning the screenplay.

No cast has been announced yet. Personally, the only two people I can see playing these the roles of Light and L well would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emile Hirsch; they're deep characters and there are not many young actors around who can pull it off. Maybe it WILL be good, but in our experience, these kinds of adaptations rarely are.

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