This eagerly anticipated collector's book of Takeshi Obata's artwork is out and Death Note News has one!
Takeshi Obata's glorious artbook Blanc et Noir has long been available in Japan. But only since May 2016 has an 0fficial English translation been published in the West.
Viz Media have produced a limited edition 10,000 copies of this beautifully printed tome containing highly detailed drawings by Death Note's artistic creator.
We first heard about it last August, but have had to wait until May 3rd 2016 before getting our hands on 132 pages of exquisitely rendered Takeshi Obata artwork. And by 'we', we really do mean that, as you can see our copy being unpacked in the video above.
The overall verdict for those who don't want to sit through 25 mins worth of inarticulate gushing?
It's surprisingly good. Much better than anyone without any art knowledge at all expected to unpack. Whilst being the first to cry foul on any old tacky tat foisted upon Death Note fans, Obata's Blanc et Noir made the grade. It was enchantingly impressive.
It would have to be given a price tag like that.
Blanc et Noir English language copies are limited edition and bound to become collectors' items. We're definitely going to be handling ours with care, while also taking a long hard look at the hitherto unsuspected detail in utterly familiar Death Note art.
There are some links (right) for anyone considering grabbing one for themselves. Or else keep an eye on our Death Note book and manga store for further ways to find and buy it.
It may be the tenth anniversary of its initial publication, yet manga editions of Death Note sales remain evergreen in the US, Canada and Mexico.
In fact, this far down the line, Death Note manga volumes are still one of the Top 10 best-selling titles within the c0ntinent for the genre. It pretty much seems lodged there; camped in all perpetuity.
That's according to ICv2 - the North American pop culture news magazine for retailers - reporting in the April 4th 2016 issue of Publishers Weekly.
While Death Note may lack the current mega-sales of latest releases like Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul and One-Punch Man, that's because they are new and trending fashionably. But that's more than made up for by the steady drip-drip of continued Death Note manga editions purchased throughout the last decade.
It even survived well during the overall manga slump in North America, which saw the trade in Japanese titles fall from a high of $210m in 2007 to a mere $65m by 2012. The market had bounced back up to $75m by 2014 - mostly on the back of Tokyo Ghoul and One-Punch Man - with early figures suggesting that North American manga sales rose by another 13% again during 2015.
Yet even during the down days in manga consumerism, interest in Death Note there never really wavered. ICv2 stated that it, along with Dragon Ball, went on 'selling well'.
So why should Death Note stand out so much amid all the rest? ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp has an answer for that too. "I think it all comes down to quality," He said, comparing Ohba and Obata's epic manga with iconic graphic novels of the West, like Alan Moore's Watchman or Batman: The Killing Joke. "Death Note is a good series."
And sometimes it really is as simple as that.
Death Note Creators Ohba and Obata's Platinum End Collected into First Manga Volume in Autumn/Fall 2016, Viz Media Anime Boston Announcement
It has been an incredibly exciting week for Death Note fans, and now we find out that Takeshi Obata has been overseeing the artwork for Death Note 2016's brand, new shinigami(s) too.
On the 4th of February 2016, the official Twitter account - for this new Japanese live-action Death Note movie - announced the actors involved in the film, character introductions, as well as posting comments from Obata and Ohba themselves!
The comments, translated from the original Japanese, state:
Japan's new Death Note movie will be released sometime this year, and cast comments are available at the official movie website.
Report by Renchan
It's Here! Limited Edition, 10,000 Run of Takeshi Obata's Blanc et Noir in English Just Became Available for Pre-order!
Yûsuke Murata - Once Assistant to Takeshi Obata, Now Mangaka in his Own Right - Profiled in French Magazine AnimeLand
Yûsuke Murata won a manga art competition when he was just twelve years old. He served his artistic apprenticeship with Death Note's Takeshi Obata; now he's known in his own right for work on such seminal manga as One-Punch Man and his debut work Eyeshield 21 (2002).
Taking the mystery from the art, Murata wows his fans with live streams, as he works on his pages from famous manga.
So you think you've read (and probably own) every book about Death Note? Check out our store, you might be surprised.
We certainly have been. During a whole weekend of hunting down errant manga and other literary Death Note works, there were tomes we'd never heard of, let alone read.
And coming from a gang of such Death Note obsessives, that's quite saying something.
For example, did you know about L: File Number 15? A canon book of short Death Note cartoons created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Half of our team did not.
Or what about Notes of Reasoning, the Chinese novel by Zao An Xia Tian? Which may or not not be a canon work taking the Death Note universe and adapting it to a Chinese setting. Or it may be an elaborate and published piece of fan-fiction. We don't know. None of us speak Chinese.
How about the hardback special editions of Death Note manga that exist out there in the English language? Some of those even took us by surprise, missing our radar entirely.
As you may have surmised, this weekend has been a time of skipping interesting things and putting our nose to the grind of finding, collating, formatting and arranging Death Note books everywhere, in various languages, across the board of genres.
All now beautifully arrayed in the Death Note News book shop.
It's worth nipping inside, if only to discover what you may have missing from your own library collection. But also to purchase a volume or two to help with the costs of running this website. Enjoy! And if you buy, thank you.
In addition the anime/movie Death Note store has been tidied up, hence will be easier to open, load and navigate. While the music merchandise has had one or two updates too.
School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei Manga Volumes Launched February 2016, Co-Created by Death Note Artist Takeshi Obata
Many dramas, books and films make use of tarot cards to symbolic effect. Death Note is no exception. There's no doubt that the cards were chosen for shock value. Yet remarkably, Death Note's tarot usage is often - and perhaps inadvertently - correct.
The appearance of tarot cards in Death Note is heralded by Near's shopping list, presented to Anthony Rester, of things that he requires in order to investigate the Kira case. Amid items such as 'plastic models', 'inflatable pool', 'secret base set', 'radio controlled rubber duck' and a 'Christmas tree', Near asked for 'Tarot cards... $250'. That's a pretty expensive deck of tarot!
It's to Near we return, time and again, to see how tarot is used in Death Note.
Death Note Near's Tarot Deck
The deck of tarot cards used by Near in Death Note appears to have been invented by Takeshi Obata (or prompted for him to draw by writer Tsugumi Ohba). At least it's not one that I've ever seen outside the Death Note universe, nor have any fans apparently found a real world set. Surely a marketing opportunity lost right there.
Anthony Rester's tarot purchase on behalf on Near was first revealed in the manga: Death Note Chapter 78 Prediction. Those scenes later appeared in the anime: Death Note Episode 30 Justice.
Near's Tarot Spread in Death Note Manga and Anime
In both the Death Note anime and manga, Near lays his tarot cards out in a very specific way. They are arrayed in a circle around himself, with most of the cards used in this manner, while a small pile remains to sit inside with him.
While I can't claim to know every single tarot card spread in existence, this one is a new configuration on me. It's difficult to know how it would - or indeed could - be read in a predictive context.
There are roughly 40-44 tarot cards precisely placed in a circle around Near. As there are seventy-eight cards in most packs, this constitutes the majority of them. They appear even more densely packed in version shown in the anime of how Near lays out his tarot cards.
Circular tarot spreads tend to use far fewer cards. The most I've encountered are sixteen piles, with thirteen or twelve (or zodiacal spreads of tarot) being more common. This isn't to say that Near hasn't invented his own, or else knows a way that I haven't seen before. Just that it's rather surprising and probably for visual effect only.
The question being - for whose?
Themes and Motifs in Death Note's Tarot Scene
The titles of the Death Note scenes where tarot cards are featured contain hints of their usage.
In the manga, this is Chapter 78 - there are usually 78 cards in a tarot deck. The chapter is entitled Prediction. Fortune telling is how tarot is most famously employed, though by no means the only way in which they might be used.
Moreover, in Death Note 13: How to Read, author Tsugumi Ohba claimed that he chose the title based upon the predictions given by Near and Light respectively. Namely that there is a fake rule (Near) and that Mello would contact the Japanese Kira Task Force (Light). No mention of tarot in this context at all, though it would seem the obvious source.
In the anime, the scenes in which Near reads tarot cards occur in Episode 30: Justice. There's nothing particularly meaningful about the number 30 in tarot, but there is a card usually labelled Justice.
Death Note Near's Tarot Card Reading - Death
Absolutely the most clichéd use of a tarot card in popular culture comes with the misuse of the Death card. The problem is that viewers, or readers, think they know what it means. You don't have to be a tarot reader to interpret that Death is bound to translate into a fatality. It doesn't look good for the person whose fortune is being told, which is why it works so well for dramatic effect.
Unfortunately for the storytelling plot, the Death card in tarot rarely means actual, physical death for any individual uncovering it.
As an aside, a group of us tarot readers once challenged ourselves to come up with a configuration of cards which would genuinely denote an imminent loss of life. As in unequivocally could not be read in any other way. It was hard work, with much toing and froing and debate, but we eventually arrived at something. Every card was one of the minor arcana. They did not feature the major arcana card Death.
So how did Death Note do with its use of the tarot Death card?
At first glance, quite badly. Near waves the Death card about whilst discussing Shinigami, rules of the Death Note and finally focuses upon it as he tells Light and the Japanese Task Force that he plans to murder Mello. None of which are particularly covered by that card's tarot meaning.
At least not in isolation.
Though, of course, Near could just be using the Death tarot card as a symbolic prop and not reading it at all. In which case, it very nicely indicates a Death God, an instrument of death and a vigilante brand of enacting capital punishment upon his erstwhile foster brother.
However, that's not precisely how and when Near links events with his Death card.
In tarot, the Death card signifies an ending of something - usually a situation or circumstance, rather than a life. It might just as well have been called a breakthrough card or closure of a chapter, than the more evocative Death.
Near doesn't turn over his card until the moment when he's found a rule which can't be proven true given the known facts of the Kira case. Unless, of course, Light Yagami really was innocent, which Near doesn't believe.
Therefore the appearance of the Death card in Death Note marks a watershed moment whereby Near's investigation genuinely threatens Kira's security, and Light's previously watertight alibi. It's also the first fruits from the beginning of a new arc, in which Mello and Near (not entirely willingly) work together to defeat their mutual adversary.
Death Note's creators may have employed this tarot card in a purely symbolic way or not, but it also fits the plot.
Death Note Near's Tarot Reading - The Devil
A second card gets flicked over, as Near realises that the second L - à la Kira - can see and speak with a shinigami. Bringing another of the major arcana into play seems to denote that some progress has been made. Two cards to signify that they've taken a step forward.
It could also be seen very symbolically without recourse to knowledge of tarot cards. If Kira is Death, then he was tempted into it by a supernatural force, i.e. the Death God. (Who was no doubt seen as demonic anyway, especially in the Western mind, amid all that Christian imagery dotted throughout Death Note.) Who better then to represent Ryuk in tarot than The Devil?
However, as it happens, The Devil in tarot is exactly the right card for Ryuk, particularly in this situation.
If you're reading from an Abrahamic background (Jew, Christian, Muslim etc.), then please put aside all you know of The Devil/Satan. This tarot card skirts about the edges of that persona, but it isn't an exact fit. For that you need to reach further into the inspiration for the modern Devil - Pan, Bacchus/Dionysus etc. This is a deity/demi-god who exists for hedonistic pleasure. He will grant your every desire and give you tools to satisfy your greatest craving. Thus teaching the individual the meaning of the old adage: be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
You only have to see the addict in thrall to their next hit, or those crushed beneath debt because they really couldn't afford all those things that they bought, in order to see how instant gratification and receiving all that you wanted might go badly wrong.
In the case of Kira, it was that Ryuk presented him with power usually beyond the scope of any mere human. Light Yagami's wish for a better world made him reach for the Death Note. His use of it ultimately controlled him, rather than the other way around. Ryuk has frequently stated that he's on nobody's side. He's there for the lulz, as it were. But here he is providing Light/Kira/2nd L with the lie required to continue satisfying his need to remain in power.
That is The Devil of the tarot, and the Death God of the manga/anime alike. At any time, Light could have stopped. Ryuk doesn't force him into this course of action. He just facilitates it.
That Near turns over The Devil card at the point whereby Ryuk lies on Kira's behalf is exactly right. That was the moment of facilitation, not merely that of being present.
How Near Uses Tarot Cards in Death Note
In both the manga and anime, Death Note's tarot scenes with Near aren't so much fortune-telling - nor the Prediction of its chapter title - as seeing the cards used as commentary upon what's already occurring. Near isn't 'reading' tarot cards per se. He's providing illustrations to highlight the important clues unfolding.
If he'd merely picked those cards at random from the tarot pack, then they really were worth the $250 in precision, and Near is undoubtedly the most intuitive character in manga history.
But he didn't pick either of them at random.
Look again at how the sequence with The Devil tarot card in the Death Note anime plays out to witness how Near selects his tarot cards quite purposefully.
Psychological Profiling with Near's Tarot Deck in Death Note
Step One: Near sits in the midst of his circle of tarot cards. He's selected just a handful - five or six at most - and flicks through them overlooked by Hal Lidner and Anthony Rester. As his conversation with Light Yagami goes on, Near's index finger pauses upon a single card among the tarot in his hand. His fingertip strokes back and forth along its rim.
Analysis: Near hasn't yet reached a firm conclusion upon what's occurring with the Second L (Light/Kira). Each tarot card in his hand represents a possibility.
Step Two: Near suddenly whips the card free of those in his hand. But he holds it away from himself, with its picture aspect concealed from his own view. His gaze is actually upon the Death card upturned on the carpet before him. Meanwhile, Near tells Light that he knows there is a fake rule in the Death Note and asks his opinion upon which it is. Light - in the guise of (second) L - answers that it's the 13 day rule.
Analysis: Until now, The Devil card has symbolized one of a final handful of strong contenders for what's going on. Near has promoted it to most likely scenario, but cannot acknowledge it as fact until he's tested his theory.
Step Three: As Light asks Ryuk to confirm whether or not there is a fake rule in the Death Note, Near smiles and turns The Devil card towards himself. He does so at the moment that Ryuk asserts that there are no fake rules, thus lying to maintain Light Yagami's prior alibi against accusations of being Kira.
In that pose, Near clarifies that there is indeed a shinigami present, and confirms that the answer was that all Death Note rules are truly stated.
Analysis: Near has already deduced that there should be a shinigami present, as he suspects that Light Yagami is Kira. What he was testing was whether the relationship between Kira and Ryuk is akin to that state of affairs governed in tarot by The Devil card. Near knows there is a fake rule, so Ryuk's denial of the fact confirms Near's favoured theory.
From a pack of 78 tarot cards, Near has now homed in on one - The Devil - to describe Kira's inner sanctum and mindset, and Ryuk's position within the scenario too. This sets the tempo for what will later play out in the Yellow Box warehouse. In short, Near just nailed Light Yagami's psychology; Ryuk's facilitative indifference; and his own end game. All with a single tarot card to provide context.
Step Four: Near might hold his card close to his heart, but only physically. In actuality, he's crowing his victory - repeating to Light precisely what just happened. That the confirmation wasn't that the Death Note rules aren't fake, but that a shinigami will lie in capitulation to Kira's will.
Whilst speaking, Near throws down The Devil card, so it lands upturned upon the Death card.
Analysis: Thus Near is able to finally play his card - The Devil previously selected - whilst spelling out to all listening (the remaining SPK, plus the entire Japanese Task Force, in addition to Light and Ryuk) that the shinigami's presence confirms Kira's presence too.
Moreover, Near's just shown that the Death God will lie for Kira, inserting fake rules to provide him with an alibi. Therefore Light Yagami's innocence is no longer proven. He could still be, and almost certainly is, Kira.
He never once mentions The Devil, though Hal, Anthony and the unseen Stephen would be able to see Near deal his tarot card. Nevertheless, Near has tripped Light up by triggering the weakness inherent to all in that state of being highlighted by The Devil in tarot.
Conclusion: Near uses the tarot in Death Note as psychological profiling tools. Not fortune-telling at all, just props for his own thought processes and theory categorization.
I hope you enjoyed the first editorial in my Tarot column for Death Note News. Next time I'll be looking at the way Near uses tarot in the Death Note One Shot manga.
~ Tarot Mikami
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face... Death Note Blogger Collates Initial Manga Appearance for Each Major Character
Light and Soichiro Yagami are both first viewed head on, but from a few feet away, framed by their environment and with the reader positioned above left. Father and son are each sitting behind desks - one at school, the other at Interpol - with their arms crossed before them. They are in rows, surrounded by others all seated the same, facing towards a single frontal focus point.
Even the shapes of things on their tables mirror, in polar opposite colours, objects on the surface before the other.
A microphone bisects our view of Soichiro's desk. A pen apes its short straight line and direction on that of his son. What is that black rectangle in front of Light Yagami? Is it a pencil case with a white pattern upon it? Its contours and colour is mimicked in the white name-plate identifying his father and colleague as representatives of Japan. Complete with their nation's flag - seen without hues as fundamentally a white square with a black sun.
Practically Ying Yang - black with white for Light; white with black for Soirchiro.
See what I mean? Much more to look into, while inspecting the first Death Note manga panels for major characters, than might be supposed. Perhaps hidden bits of sub-plot in where Tsugumi Ohba directed, or Takeshi Obata just draw, correlations between certain individuals.
As Neil Gaiman wrote in Sandman (and I'm fond of repeating to readers of my fan fiction) - Always trust the story, never the storyteller. There's always more to see in the subtleties and the little things, the links and what's left out.
And today I learned that artists are just as bad.
Discover more first sightings in the manga of Death Note personae in Kyoko Kikuchi's Death Note blog. Then keep on reading, because also found and ready for the analysing are the panels wherein we see each character's face for the first time. Plus, if they survived the time jump, then Kyoko also digs out the picture introducing us to that individual's older self in the second arc.
We could be here for hours.
However, the collection did miss out Matt's first Death Note manga appearance, in chapter 83, page 10. Let me make good that omission. And oh! Look! Just like Mello, Near, L, Ryuk and Misa, he's looking away with his face concealed. Interesting.
Platinum End Chapters Hit the Comic Stands - New Manga by Death Note Creators Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Platinum End - the new manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note's creators - launched today with its first chapter simultaneously appearing in Japanese and English translations on opposite sides of the Pacific.
Readers in Japan may find it serialized in Jump Square magazine's December 2015 issue 12 (Nov. 4th 2015), while English readers can download a digital version from Viz Media's Weekly Shonen Jump website.
Naturally a copy of the first chapter of Platinum End has been grabbed here, so we can see what it's all about and how the Death Note fandom might possibly receive this latest manga by Ohba and Obata.
However, sensible of spoilers, all thoughts in review of the chapter will be hidden behind a read more mask.
Tickets are being sold for the 2015 Japanese Film Festival, which will tour Australia and New Zealand over the next two months.
Though Death Note isn't on the programme, creators Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata still get a showing. Bakuman will play for the Japanese culture loving Antipodean hordes.
Their semi-autobiographical tale chronicles the adventures of author Akito and artist Moritaka, as they attempt to break into the Japanese manga industry.
This was Ohba and Obata's second collaboration, which came after Death Note had completed its run. Their live action movie Bakuman will be the version screened during the 2015 Japanese Film Festival.
Bakuman at 2015 Japanese Film Festival
Bakuman will open in Brisbane on October 21st 2015, at 7pm, in the Event Cinemas, Brisbane City Myer Centre. Further showings there will be:
It then moves to Perth, where showings will be at Hoyts Carousel, Westfield Carousel, 1382 Albany Highway, Carousel. Those dates and times are:
In the meantime, Bakuman is off to Adelaide, where the movie will be shown at the Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett Street, on:
Next it's off to Sydney, where the venue is the Event Cinemas in George Street. There Bakuman will be screened on:
In the midst of that, the Japanese Film Festival 2015 also squeezes in an airing of the movie at another Event Cinemas, in Church Street, Parramatta. That happens on:
Then it's the ACMI Cinema in Federation Square, Melbourne, for a showing on:
Before Bakuman's final Film Festival screening location at Hoyts Melbourne Central, at Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. They occur on:
Not much going on there for Bakuman in New Zealand then. Though, by necessity of staying on topic here, the focus has only been on Ohba and Obata's work. There's plenty more going on in the schedule of the 2015 Japanese Film Festival in both Australia and New Zealand.
Japanese Film Festival 2015 Trailer
Check out the Japanese Film Festival 2015 website for more details about what is going on in the Antipodes, and where you might purchase tickets to join in.
An English language version of Platinum End - the new manga by Death Note writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata - will be released in the US, Viz Media have announced.
Not only that, but it will keep pace with the Japanese Jump SQ serialisation of the manga.
The US Platinum End manga series will run in Viz Media's digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, matching each new edition with English translations available on-line at the same time.
However, chapters are going to be individually published, with readers paying 99c a time to follow the unfolding tale.
Platinum End appears to be closer to Death Note's plot than the creative duo's interim collaboration Bakuman.
Ohba and Obata's new manga follows the fortunes of a boy named Mirai Kakehashi, who 'does not seek hope in order to keep on living'. While Light Yagami's worldly frustrations found vent in a shinigami's deadly notebook, we don't yet know what happens to Mirai.
But a supernatural entity is also lurking, as may be assumed by the tale being about 'a human and an angel'.
How that encounter plays out is yet to be seen.
Jump SQ have Tweeted a preview of the Platinum End artwork to adorn its 8th anniversary edition centrefold.
The third collaboration between author Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata - which began with Death Note - appears to be about a suicidal human visited by an angel.
Platinum End follows the fortunes of Mirai Kakehashi, a young boy without any 'hope in living'. The fact that an angel also features prominently in the story would suggest that Heavenly forces have his back. Presumably to help on a quest to acquire some aforementioned hope.
Find more information about the release and publication of Ohba and Obata's new manga in last week's piece announcing it.
And in the meantime, help me work out why translators are suddenly calling Takeshi Ken Obata. Has he gone and changed his first name? Or has some strange algorithm tweak left Takeshi lost in translation?
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Site Claim and Authorship Verification: All that follows is for me to prove my authorship of Death Note News in various places. Hoop jumping stuff for me; boring for everyone else.