What is Death Note, and is it really Ireland’s Netflix favourite?

An international survey of search data finds Ireland’s most Googled Netflix property in 2021

A controversial 2017 horror movie about a high-school student who enters a bloody pact with a death god portrayed by Willem Dafoe is Ireland's "most popular Netflix show" of 2021, according to a new report.

Death Note is a feature-length Netflix adaptation of a story that first appeared in a Japanese manga magazine in 2003 and became a TV series in Japan in 2006. The 2017 Netflix remake has been accused of "whitewashing" by changing the setting from Tokyo to Seattle.

Death Note will have to put in some killer work if it is catch up with Peaky Blinders. The BBC's Birmingham noir thriller, starring Cillian Murphy, is the most-searched-for Netflix property in 24 of the 70 surveyed countries

This seems not to have proved a deal-breaker for Irish audiences, at least going by the survey by highspeedinternet.com. Its analysis of monthly searches on Google over the past 12 months finds the film was the most-searched-for Netflix property in Ireland in 2021. (Movies and shows predating 2011 were stripped out from the results.)

This does not confirm it as the most popular entertainment on the streaming service, despite the survey’s claims – it’s just the most Googled item. It did not feature in Netflix’s own list of its most streamed films in Ireland in 2019.

READ MORE

And, internationally, Death Note will have to put in some killer work if it is catch up with Peaky Blinders. The BBC's Birmingham noir thriller, starring Cillian Murphy, is the most-searched-for Netflix property in 24 of the 70 surveyed countries (including France, Italy and Spain).

Netflix's own Stranger Things comes next, heading the leaderboard in 15 countries. In the US and Canada, the most-Googled show was the comedy Schitt's Creek.

The UK, like Ireland, is an anomaly. Its binge-watch favourite – as suggested by the search data – is the 1980s-set ladies-wrestling drama Glow. In Australia, the Karate Kid prequel Cobra Kai finished top of the search chart. Another regional stand-out is the popularity in India of Enola Holmes, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the Baker Street sleuth's precocious younger sister.

But Death Note marks Ireland as the true aberration. The film was horribly reviewed and compared unfavourably with a Japanese anime cartoon adaptation previously available on Netflix. One of the critiques is that the tale of a vengeful death spirit makes no sense when removed from the Japanese milieu. The absence of Asian cast members also drew flak.

Death Note begins when a bullied teenager, Light Turner (Nat Wolff), finds a tattered notebook with the words “Death Note” on the cover. An evil trickster god, Ryuk (Dafoe), turns up and explains that Light can bump off whomever he wishes by writing their name, and means of death, in the book.

“I’m not sure who Death Note is for,” concluded a negative review in GQ magazine. Well, now we have our answer. It is apparently for Irish people looking for something to watch on Netflix. They will be thrilled to learn a sequel is in the works.