A-Live Panel and a Death Note; I.e. Some good chat at ALCON

Our thoughts from the monthly Mangaforum 

A-Live Panel and a Death Note; I.e. Some good chat at ALCON

For August’s read, Lex and I were compelled to re-read  the early 2000’s manga phenomenon, Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. We were inspired to read this recent classic again, after it was announced that Netflix had finally released the “American version” feature film, and we thought that it would be an excellent opportunity to revisit a story we both have loved and give us something actually currently relevant to talk about, at our very first, full length, face-to-face audience forum discussion, at ALCON, Leicesters Anime, Gaming & “Party” Convention.

Before we go into our usual review blog, I’d like to say Thank you to the lovely people who came to our talk, and to the organisers of ALCON too – We had a fabulous time. If you’d like more information about the con, go here –> http://www.alcon.org.uk/.

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So, What did we all think;

  • There is so  much we can say about the Death Note franchise, I’m going to TRY and keep this post as short as I can…
  • And, first of all; Every anime and manga blogger – fuck it, even some of those western comics fans, movie reviewers, standard-form novel clubs, and their mums- have something to say about the new Netflix adaptation…but we’ll still cover it a bit here too!
  • The manga is stone cold classic thriller for all ages; Great divisive characters – dramatic enough for teens, and psychopathic enough for adults who think about the premise too much; Page-gripping tension with a tangle of plot twists.
  • The anime is a poster-child for medium-transfer loyalty – Very true to the source and excellently dubbed for the gaijin.
  • The live action adaptations/”interpretations” – Divisive but not necessarily in the good ways;
    • The Japanese adaptations may have attempted to stay truer to the source but were called “boring” and “confusing” by our pool of fans.
    • The new Netflix “American” version has caused the biggest internet semi-shit-storm, since…well actually, probably since the new “American” version of Ghost in the Shell – and that’s a whole other soap-box-rant.

EPIC_LWhat we liked (about the Manga)

Its the story that works; To summarize, the story follows the scarily intelligent ( Psychopathic?) Light  Yagami, who gets given a Death Note, by a Shinigami (called Ryuk) allowing him to remotely kill anyone, as long as he knows their name and face, by writing down how and when they die. There are a bunch of loosely constrictive rules, but Light’s big dream is to cleanse the world of criminals, and big ball-buster is a mysterious detective “L” who is equally as intelligent as him, and is out to get him for being a mass murderer.

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The chase between Light and L, and their world of circling each other and spiraling moral compasses, keeps the reader/anime-watcher on the edge of their seat, if not behind it.

I’ve never been able to say I ‘like’ either Light or L, but you can’t hate either of their character designs – Light is calculating and callus; L is confusing, a some-what know-it-all pomp and neither of them would be cast as “the good guy” in any western adaptation, although sometimes its the villains we like the most anyway.

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It is a SMART manga; Although aimed at a younger audience, it doesn’t pander to them. The fact that the whole series is about a mass murder should be enough of a macabre benchmark, but there are a lot of twists, dead ends and rationalized, sometimes over-orchestrated plot devices, which some may find tedious, but i find build tension like nobody’s business.

What we liked (About the New Netflix film adaptation)

We didn’t hate it. If you ignore the fact that it’s meant to be related to the portrayal of Light Yagami and the story written by Tsugumi Ohbah, you have yourself a film you don’t necessarily want to throw popcorn at or punch the screen during.

(As you probably know by now from all the other blogs) The directors changed pretty much every aspect going; – but fuck, in my view, butchering something good is worse than cheating and just creating something new from scratch. General consensus for us was that it was a low budget film with decent actors and a  restricted brief. I actually enjoyed the gory, Donnie-Darko feel and thought the script avoided some of the cringe cliches (that are present in the manga/anime) Plus it wasn’t too long.

And anyhow, what about it promoting Manga for the western world….?

So, this was one discussion that did divide us in the ALCON roomIs it a “bridge” into to anime?/Does it make anime/manga more accessible to people who would otherwise have misconceptions?

  • I say NO; It’s a false middle ground, with so little reference to the source that there’s not even a decent amount of fan service.
    • In my view, it’s been created as a project by the director, who may have loved the premise but, who had no intention to promote the medium of anime. This isn’t Harry Potter ‘Getting-Kids-To-Read-Again’, this is Disney’s version of Pinocchio (*gag*; Read the original Carlo Collodi “Le avventure di Pinocchio“… and come to realize a butchering beyond all recognition – Another Soap-box)
  • I’d even go as far to say – This “interpretation” of Death Note, may perhaps even be promoting the idea that cartoons/anime/comics/manga are just for kid’s ; The stories are acceptable for “the west” only when it’s sexed up, white washed, with archetype characters and a condensed, flat but familiar plot layout….Another Soap-box.

What we disliked.

That could be a whole other post – I think there are enough words here for today.

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So, for our September read, tune in at http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum on 1st October for our review of “I am a Hero” by Kengo Hanazawa, where we’ll be joined by a super special guest…OH YES. Prepare for some more GOOD CHAT.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter, Instagram and Youtube too, where we’ll posting our thoughts and faces- https://twitter.com/themangaforum.

As always, We look forward to hearing what you think so comment below!

Lara and Lexa

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