One of these dashing samurai is actually Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Though his most famous as the character designer for the first six installments of Final Fantasy, illustrator and painter Yoshitaka Amano’s creative output goes far beyond the popular video game franchise. He’s also served as a designer for anime as varied in tone as campy ‘70s action sci-fi series Science Ninja Team Gtachaman and the supremely cerebral Angel’s Egg, and even illustrated a Cinderella picture book that shows the fairy tale princess like you’ve never seen her before.

Amano also occasionally draws inspiration from real-life people, such as late British musician David Bowie. For his latest project, Amano’s subject is a famous Japanese figure, whom he’s rendered in an exquisitely detailed ink brush style.

Looking at the man with the stoic, stalwart stare, you might start to feel like you recognize him. Maybe he’s a wise samurai lord from Japan’s Sengoku period, who administered his subjects fairly and justly? Or perhaps, since the painting is titled “Shin Jidai no Makuake,” or “Raising the Curtain on a New Era,” he’s one of the progressive samurai who was at the forefront of Japan’s transition from feudal rule to a modern democracy?

Well, you’d be right as far as there being a political connection, but you won’t find this man that far back in the history books. As we zoom out, we can see that the image of Amano’s painting is annotated with the man’s name, 安倍晋三

…or, rendered in the Latin alphabet, Shinzo Abe, a.k.a. the current Prime Minister of Japan.

The painting appears on a website for Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which is led by Abe (the painting’s notation lists Abe as the 22nd and 25th head of the party, almost like he’s a king or swordsmanship school master). Fanned out in formation behind Abe are six other people with varying levels of samurai, ninja, or sorceress-like atmospheres, though with no official notations we can’t tell if they’re also based on real-life politicians or Amano originals, especially since Amano’s portrait of Abe is a heavily stylized reimagining of the statesman’s face.

It’s unsure what sort of impact Abe’s Amano-given makeover will have on his party’s candidates the next time Japan holds an election, but even more so than a political contest, it’d be interesting to see how Samurai Abe would fare in a fight against Amano’s version of Magic: The Gathering’s Liliana.

Source: Liberal Democratic Party of Japan via Jin
Top image: Liberal Democratic Party of Japan
Insert images: Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Wikipedia/PatbackT
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