CULTURE

"Death Note" Manga Returns with a One-Shot Chapter to Wreck Donald Trump

"Death Note" never explicitly names the American president, but he's very clearly drawn as Donald Trump.

*MILD SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE NEW DEATH NOTE ONE-SHOT*

In an incredible surprise release, the acclaimed supernatural-thriller manga Death Note has returned with a Special One-Shot chapter (which you can read for free on Viz.com).
For those unfamiliar, Death Note is the story of Light Yagami, a genius high schooler who gets gifted a supernatural notebook by a bored shinigami (a god of death in Japan) named Ryuk. The titular Death Note gives its owner the power to kill anyone whose name they write inside, along with the ability to map out the circumstances of their death. Light decides to use the Death Note to rid the world of crime and shape society as he sees fit, adopting the pseudonym "Kira" and positioning himself as a God. His actions attract the attention of "L," the world's best detective, who views Kira as a serial killer and intends to take him down. What proceeds is a life-or-death game of cat-and-mouse wherein Light and L attempt to figure out each other's real identities in order to bring the other down.

Ryuk shueisha

Death Note is considered by many to be one of the best manga series ever made, with an adaptation that's often used as a "gateway anime" due to its accessibility even to people who are unfamiliar with or don't like the medium. It's a relatively short series, at only 108 chapters, with a clean narrative arc that ends definitively in every way. So a brand new one-shot chapter from the original creative team (writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata) is the best of kind of news for manga fans.

But perhaps even more surprising than the launch, Ohba and Obata wove a brutal takedown of American president Donald Trump into the chapter.

Without spoiling too much of the main plot, the One-Shot follows Ryuk the shinigami in the modern day as he, once again, uses his Death Note to create some havoc. One of the plot points involves the Death Note going up for auction and a bidding war breaking out between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China. The American president, who's never explicitly named but is very clearly drawn as Donald Trump, wins with a two trillion dollar bid and promises to never use it in order to ensure world peace.

Death Note one shot Shueisha

But before giving the notebook to "Mr. President," Ryuk decides on a new rule: "A human who buys or sells the Death Note in the human world will die. The seller will die when they receive the money, and the buyer will die when they receive the Death Note." Ryuk taunts Mr. President, explaining that he "paid all that money, just to die," alongside the caveat that if Mr. President refuses to take the notebook, he'll consider the sale null. Of course, Mr. President still won't get his money back.

Donald Trump Death Note Shueisha

Just look at that weird-lipped mug.

Death Note trump Shueisha


Ryuk expands on the conundrum he's presenting Mr. President: "If you take the notebook, you'll die, but it will remain here. So someone high and mighty in this country will get it, right? You'll die, but it'll belong to your nation."

Mr. President, of course, backs out. To which Ryuk responds: "Got it. You value your life over your country." Mr. President tells Ryuk that he still plans to lie about having it, and his refusal to use it will make him "look like a saint."

"Very shrewd, Mr. President," says Ryuk.

Trump Death Note Shueisha

Manga isn't known for being particularly political, even regarding Japan's own politics, so when manga artists (and other Japanese celebrities, too) use their medium to make political statements, it's a big deal. For instance, Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahashi later apologized after making a political post on Instagram criticizing the right-wing Abe administration and depicting the Dark Magician saying, "The future for despotic politicians is the Dark Dimension!"

"It seems I caused a commotion," said Takahashi in response to the situation, while being careful not to retract his own political views. "I've considered the various points of view, and I deeply apologize to all of the series' fans for having the characters make political statements."

So for Ohba and Obata's political commentary to pass through the Shonen Jump editorial cycle in an official capacity...Well, it goes to show that Donald Trump's overwhelming disapproval rating isn't just limited to the United States.

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