‘Death Note’ News: Netflix’s Adaptation Of Japanese Manga Draws Criticism For ‘Whitewashing’

3:31 PM EDT 3/24/2017 by Irene Cabrera, Celebeat Reporter

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Netflix is once again being accused of whitewashing another Asian story they have adapted. This time, the controversy involves the new crime thriller film adaptation "Death Note."

On Wednesday, the online streaming service released the trailer for "Death Note." It was met with widespread backlash from fans. Many of them accused Netflix of whitewashing the English adaptation of the Japanese manga of the same name. The cast consists of Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Paul Nakauchi and Willem Dafoe. No Asian actors and actresses were cast in the film.

"Death Note" tells the story of a high school student who discovers a notebook that has the capability to kill anybody whenever their name is written on it, according to CNN. The student then uses the notebook for his own intentions, seeking justice by killing all criminals in society. Wolff plays the high school student "Light Turner," whose name in the original Japanese series is Light Yagami.

Several fans who saw the trailer for "Death Note" could not help but compare it to current examples of whitewashing in several American films. One example of a film is "Ghost In The Shell," which saw Scarlett Johansson being cast in a Japanese role. There were also people who argued that the casting choices were acceptable since Netflix had relocated the story from Japan to Seattle, Washington.

The release of the trailer for "Death Note" on Wednesday comes at a time when the online streaming service had already landed in hot water with devoted and faithful fans over the way it represents Asian characters in some of their stories. Ahead of the buildup and release of "Iron Fist," fans slammed Netflix for its cultural appropriation and deemed the show as a "white savior story," according to USA Today.

Over in the summer of last year, however, "Death Note" producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee insisted that the film was inclusive. "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 in a statement to Collider.

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