Netflix’s Death Note Whitewashed Its Main Character; Social Media Isn’t Here for It

Netflix this week released its trailer for Death Note, a film based on the Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and people aren’t too pleased with the casting choice for its main character.


Death Note stars Nat Wolff, a white man, but the manga comic tells the story of a Japanese high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook. Now, granted, when the news of Death Note hit, the movie’s producers billed it as an “Americanized” version. But a lot of people are wondering, why does “Americanized” immediately signal, “Cast this white actor and not an Asian one”? And sure, the series may be set in Seattle, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Asian people live there, too (/s).

Needless to say, the trailer and casting choice for the main character were immediately called out:


Last year, when speaking about the Netflix series, producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin (both Asian) spoke about the diversity they were bringing to the story.

“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,” they said.


One has to wonder if Lee and Lin had any say-so in the casting of the series. In addition to Wolff playing the main character, Light Turner, the series also includes Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton, LaKeith Stanfield as L, Paul Nakauchi as Watari, and Shea Whigham as James Turner.

So far, the only one to respond to the controversy about the casting was Stanfield, who tweeted and deleted, “Currently blackwashin shit.”


Death Note will be available to stream on Netflix beginning Aug. 25.



What’ll be fun is when the same people who defended Iron Fist because of the source material defend this because it’s an adaptation.