More information has begun trickling out about the Death Note television drama scheduled to begin airing in Japan from July 2015.
Weekly Shonen Jump (issue 26, May 25th 2015) ran with a promo page, in this latest edition, announcing who's been cast in the three main roles. This has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Not the characters in the frame - Nihon TV, the company behind the television Death Note adaption, already revealed that Light, L and Near comprise the core canon personae - but which actors have landed those plum parts.
Or more specifically, the ATTRIBUTES of those actors.
In short, Kira's too old; L's too associated with romantic comedies; and Near's too female. Oh! And they're messing about with the story again.
Kubota Masataka Cast as Death Note TV's Kira
A few disgruntled whispers and quibbles have sounded across the Death Note blogsphere and fandom forums, but nothing too loud. He appears to be passing muster at the moment, with all due judgement reserved until we see actually see him acting in the role.
Those who are familiar with his work - especially his performances as Yuto Kuronaga in the movie series Gachiban or as the troubled Shinji in N no Tame ni - are quick to reassure the rest of us that Kubota will make a credible Kira. Maybe even an exciting one.
Personally I'm wondering about the assumption that he'll be playing Light as a student.
Death Note didn't end with Mr Yagami Jr's graduation. He was twenty-four by the time he was head to head with Near in the Yellow Box. Suddenly his actor's age seems not only in accord with his characterisation, but a big clue as to his role within the Death Note television adaptation.
Proposed Plotline of Death Note TV Drama
There's nothing in the latest round of information to contradict my previous musings regarding plot here.
The show's producer has already said that, while the television adaptation of Death Note will ping off the original canon tale, it's a 'totally different story'. NTV want to create a drama which even old school fans will be able to watch without knowing what happens next.
Worst case scenario is that they start from the same place as the manga, but reinvent the story along another tangent like Ohba's version never existed. If it doesn't mesh, then the fandom refuses to make it canon. (We're all looking at you, live action movies.)
To my mind, the wide open gap left by Mello not appearing on the cast list precludes that. Surely he would appear in a retelling that includes Near? Even if it's only as a young girl. (Still looking at you, Death Note film trilogy.)
I'm still going with Near's memories of Light and L requiring actors for those parts. He's just not having flashbacks involving Mello. Obviously therapy is helping him there then.
Anyway, back to the Death Note TV casting news and gossip.
Kento Yamazaki as L in Television Death Note
Unless I'm seriously reading too much into this, then flashback scenes could be facilitated here too. Assuming that Near spent most of his childhood at Wammy's House, then five years prior to the Kira case sounds about right for him to have shared those corridors with L.
Insofar as I can recall, there are no recorded canon incidences of Near and Lawliet being in the same place at the same time. But they were both raised at the orphanage. That a seven year old Near met a twenty year old L there doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility to me.
What most in the fandom are discussing isn't Kento's age, but his acting credits to date. Those in the know usually expect him to turn up in romantic comedies.
There's a lot you can say about L, but 'romantic' and 'comic' aren't generally in the top ten associations. Nor perhaps the top fifty. Unless it's Light/L slash fan-fiction, or people mistaking cocoon bondage of an abducted woman for perfectly acceptable courting rituals in the case of L and Misa.
Though I suppose that L's quirky nature - eating habits, dry one-liners and posture - can be quite funny on occasion.
The feeling I'm getting out there is that Kento's roles are normally a little too light-weight and insipid to feasibly pull off L. He's the mushy High School love interest on the other end of Hibino's first kiss in Kyō; while, in Another's Koichi, his character's on-off-will-they-won't-they High School flirtation with Mei Misaki was half of the storyline's main appeal.
However, the other half was all about curses, supernatural happenings, dark pasts and people dying in solution of a mystery. Much like Death Note then. If Kento can pull that off, then maybe he will make a decent L too. And embrace this as his big chance to step aside from the stereotyping inherent in his roles thus far.
Either way, it won't really matter what he does. He's not Ken'ichi Matsuyama and, as far as most of the Death Note fandom is concerned, that's game over before he's even begun. Poor love.
And Near is a Girl...
Sixteen year old Mio Yūki has been cast to play Near in the live action television Death Note drama.
He was around 17-18 years old during his confrontation with Light during the manga's grand finale. Sixteen plays straight into my theory that this TV adaptation of Death Note picks up where the rest stop. Hence my glee now, and my utter embarrassment when you all hold it against me later.
But, of course, nobody is talking about Mio Yūki's AGE.
Not when you've got the much more eye-widening, finger pointing, WTFness of her GENDER to take into consideration.
Everything else is present and correct. There's Near's hair - colour, style and finger twirling a lock - exactly right. Pyjamas - baggy, white, buttoned - all as expected. Only with the unexpected addition of chest bumps - two thereof - curving the cut of said pyjamas.
So Near's now female then.
Unstintingly without explanation, the Death Note television show has given him a sex change - performed by the simple expediency of casting a teen actress to play him. Perhaps they took one look at Kento's track record and thought, "Ooops! Where can we ninja a High School love interest into this story?!"
Sorry, I'm from the Mello/Matt gang and we're in bits. We're returning all that Near fans hurled our way, when the live action movies did precisely this to Mello. At least you lot got to keep the general look, all we retained was the IQ and the bob.
In fact, glancing around the rest of the Death Note blogosphere, the main reaction is that of amusement coupled with looking on in wry interest to see where the show's makers are taking this. There's not really anything in Near's canon story which hinges upon his gender - he could take down Kira as a boy or a girl - so the only real worries on that score are what could be added instead.
And just in case anyone's missing plot-lines to worry about, Mello's fandom can be relied upon to churn them out at a rate of knots. You're very welcome.
If you ask nicely, we might even provide the popcorn to nom, as you watch High School Near in first crush mode receive her awakening kiss in the arms of dreamy L. Then spend the rest of the series dripping IQ points, going 'squee' and generally being someone pretty to stand in the background, making L look good. Before greeting him with a cheer and a lingering kawaii embrace for the finale's closing scene.
The adaptation part of it being the omission of chapter 25, thus negating any need for Mello to give up his studies - and thus no casting necessary, as he's still in Winchester doing his PhD - or Near to exhibit possession of a single brain cell. After all, it'll be L leading the showdown in the Yellow Box now. Near just has to keep him in good home baking long enough to get there.
Salted, sweet or buttered? I'm talking about your popcorn.
The worst of this is that the more I consider it, the more convinced I become that I'm not even joking. And if that's how it plays out, then sod the popcorn, our chocolate bars will be down on the table too.
It would be a travesty. Not merely for Near, but for womanhood and a world in which the most ridiculous scenario, we can concoct in advance for hilarity's sake, turns out to be the cynical truth.
Watching on with interest to see how you play it, Yūki. I hope they really did give you Near, and that my theory about the continuation of Death Note post-Kira transpires to be the correct one.