The newest movie from Netflix, Death Note, is almost here and it’s looking to bring the wildly popular anime to life. This is the first live-action, western adaptation of Death Note that brings the show’s dark story to America. While the setting, characters, and even story have all received changes in some form, one has to wonder if watching the anime is needed to understand the film. The short answer is no, Netflix’s Death Note was designed to act as a standalone movie, separate from the rest of the source material. Going into the movie with no knowledge of the show won’t hinder you from understanding the basic rules, characters, and premise of the story.
However, given that the Death Note anime is a whopping 37 episodes long, there is a high chance that many references or character traits may be glossed over. There is a lot that happens in this series and having an understanding of the lore will help you catch various references or teases to either events or possibly a second film. If you have the time we recommend watching at least the first season of Death Note, as it’s very unlikely that director Adam Wingard’s film will go beyond this. You can actually find the Death Note anime on Netflix with both the English and Japanese dubbing.
Death Note follows the story of Light Turner (Nat Wolff), a student who discovers a mystical object that kills anyone whose name is written in it. Called a Death Note, this item was dropped into the human world by a death god called Ryuk (Willem DaFoe). Driven by a sense of righteous justice, Light begins to kill criminals in mass which gains the attention of a special detective known as L (Lakeith Standfield). What follows is a cat and mouse game between Light and L with each one trying to figure out the other’s identity.