Cover art of the first manga volume
|Written by||Taiyō Matsumoto|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits|
|Original run||1993 – 1994|
|Directed by||Kōji Morimoto|
|Produced by||Hiroaki Takeuchi|
|Released||January 1, 1999|
|Directed by||Michael Arias|
|Written by||Anthony Weintraub|
|Licensed by||Sony Pictures|
|Released||December 22, 2006|
Tekkonkinkreet (Japanese: 鉄コン筋クリート, Hepburn: Tekkonkinkurīto)[a] is a Japanese seinen manga series written and illustrated by Taiyō Matsumoto, originally serialized from 1993 to 1994 in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits. The story takes place in the fictional city of Takaramachi (Treasure Town) and centers on a pair of orphaned street kids – the tough, canny Kuro (Black) and the childish, innocent Shiro (White), together known as the Cats – as they deal with yakuza attempting to take over Treasure Town.
A pilot film directed by Kōji Morimoto was released in January 1999. It was adapted into a 2006 feature-length Japanese anime film of the same name, directed by Michael Arias and animated by Studio 4°C. The film Tekkonkinkreet premiered in Japan in December 2006. and first published in English as Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White.
While the manga follows multiple plot threads, the film adaptation consists of most plots shown in the manga.
The film follows two orphans, Kuro (クロ "Black") and Shiro (シロ "White"), as they attempt to keep control of the streets of the pan-Asian metropolis of Takaramachi, once a flourishing town and now a huge, crumbling slum fraught with warring between criminal gangs. Kuro is a violent and streetwise punk, considering Takaramachi to be "his town". Shiro is younger and appears to be mentally impaired, out of touch with the world around him and often living in a world of illusions. They call themselves "the Cats". Despite their extreme differences, they complement and support each other, similar to the Chinese Taoist principle of yin and yang.
During one of their "missions", they take on thugs and Kuro ends up beating up three Yakuza gang members who are menacing a street gangster friend of his. The Yakuza work for Snake (蛇), the head of a corporation called "Kiddy Kastle". Snake plans to tear down and rebuild Takaramachi as a theme park to fit his own goals and dreams. When Kuro interferes once too often, Yakuza are sent to kill him, but fail. Angered, Snake then sends the deadly "three assassins" known as Dragon, Butterfly, and Tiger, near-superhuman hitmen, to finish the job.
In order to save Kuro and himself, Shiro has to kill the first assassin Dragon by tipping gasoline and setting it alight, burning him alive. The second assassin Butterfly pursues Shiro and stabs him with a samurai sword. Shiro is then sent to the hospital. The police, who have been watching both Snake and the two youngsters, decide to take Shiro into protective custody "for his own good", while Kuro watches Shiro go knowing he would be too hard to look after while being hunted. Kuro later falls into a depressive state.
Alongside the children's narrative is a story is told through the eyes of Kimura (木村), an average man who gets caught up in the Yakuza, leading him to have a violent encounter with Kuro. Eventually, Kimura is forced by Snake to kill his former boss and mentor, Suzuki (鈴木), to remove possible competition. While Kimura fulfills his mission, he is deeply shocked by having murdered his mentor. Summoned once again by Snake, Kimura rebels and kills the Yakuza boss, before attempting to flee with his pregnant wife from Takaramachi. He is gunned down in a drive-by shooting by Snake's men.
While the police feel it is for the best for Shiro to remain with them outside Takaramachi, Shiro feels empty without Kuro there for support. In parallel, without Shiro, Kuro soon begins to lose grip on reality and allows his violence to consume him. He soon develops a split personality, with his dark side manifesting as the "minotaur". Things reach a climax when Shiro is brought back to Takaramachi by one of the officers and taken to a local fair. There, a delusional Kuro is trying to show people that "Shiro", in reality a mocked-up doll, has returned to life. When Kuro is attacked by Snake's two remaining assassins, the doll is damaged and Kuro flies into a murderous rage, killing the assassins. It is then that he is confronted by the real Shiro, and is forced to fight the "minotaur", who wishes to completely consume him. Kuro manages to triumph over his dark side and reunites with Shiro, last seen playing in the beach.
Tekkonkinkreet is written and illustrated by Taiyō Matsumoto. It was originally serialized from 1993 to 1994 in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits. Shogakukan compiled its chapters into three tankōbon volumes, released from February 7, 1994 to May 30, 1994. Shogakukan republished the series in a single volume on December 15, 2006.
In North America, the series was re-named Black & White, and start publishing in the first issue of Viz Media's Pulp in December 1997, along with Strain, Dance till Tomorrow and Banana Fish. The manga completed 2 thirds of its run in the magazine, and in September 1999, it was replaced by Bakune Young. Viz Media published the three volumes from March 8, 1999 to November 30, 2000. In 2007, Viz Media released the series into a single volume, with the title Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White, on September 25, 2007.
|No.||Original release date||Original ISBN||English release date||English ISBN|
|1||February 7, 1994||4-09-184731-5||March 8, 1999||1-56931-322-9|
|2||April 4, 1994||4-09-184732-3||January 5, 2000||1-56931-432-2|
|3||May 30, 1994||4-09-184733-1||November 30, 2000||1-56931-490-X|
A CG-animated pilot film was released in 1999. The film was directed by Kōji Morimoto and had character models designed by Naoko Sugita. Hiroaki Takeuchi was the producer, Lee Fulton was the animation supervisor, and the 2006 feature-length film's director, Michael Arias, served as CG director. The entire 4-minute short was completed with a staff of 12 people.
All three manga issues were adapted into a 2006 feature-length anime film of the same name, directed by Michael Arias and animated by Studio 4°C. The film Tekkonkinkreet premiered in Japan on December 23, 2006. The city featured in Tekkonkinkreet was deemed as "the central character of the film" and the city's design was inspired by the cityscapes of Tokyo, Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, China and Colombo, Sri Lanka to give a pan-Asian feel to the city. The English electronic music duo Plaid composed the music. Asian Kung-Fu Generation performed the theme song for the film "Aru Machi no Gunjō".
The film featured the following cast:
|Character||Japanese Cast||English Cast**|
|Kuro(Black)/The Minotaur||Kazunari Ninomiya||Scott Menville|
|Shiro(White)||Yū Aoi||Kamali Minter|
|Kimura||Yūsuke Iseya||Rick Gomez|
|Sawada||Kankurō Kudō||Tom Kenny|
|Suzuki aka Rat||Min Tanaka||David Lodge|
|Fujimura||Tomomichi Nishimura||Maurice LaMarche|
|The Boss||Mugihito||John DiMaggio|
|Choco||Nao Ōmori||Alex Fernandez|
|Vanilla||Yoshinori Okada||Quinton Flynn|
|Dawn||Yukiko Tamaki||Yuri Lowenthal|
|Dusk||Mayumi Yamaguchi||Phil LaMarr|
|Snake||Masahiro Motoki||Dwight Schultz|
|Kimura's Wife*||Marina Inoue||Kate Higgins|
|The Doctor*||Osamu Kobayashi||Steven Jay Blum|
|The Three Assassins
(Dragon, Butterfly and Tiger)
- * - Minor Role
- ** - Not credited on the DVD
Tekkonkinkreet has been generally well received by critics, for its story and particularly for Matsumoto's artwork and style. Jason Henderson of Mania.com, reviewed the third volume of the manga. He noted Matsumoto's influence by French comics and writing, and how he was able to create a "truly remarkable story that mixes Japanese sensibility with a European look and pace". Matthew J. Brady of Manga Life, gave the series an "A" grade. Brady praised the series for its unique and expressive artwork, stating that it is more like something seen in independent American or European comics than in standard manga, also comparing his style to Western artists Brandon Graham, Corey Lewis and Bryan Lee O'Malley. He also wrote that the relationship and character of the main protagonists is very believable, despite their superhuman acrobatic and fighting abilities. Brady concluded: "It's a rich book that you can pore over absorbing at all the content". Shaenon K. Garrity wrote: "Tekkon Kinkreet is one of the most visually stunning comics I know. Matsumoto can draw the hell out of anything, and the warped, kinetic, graffiti-influenced style he uses here is perfect for the loopy action-packed story". Garrity added that it also got a strong story, and the two central characters are "surprisingly lovable and touching", and that their "odd, clumsily affectionate, ultimately powerful relationship" is the core of the manga. Scott Campbell of activeAnime, said that the manga is "one of those books that everyone will get a slightly different feeling from, and a different idea of what the point of it all was". About the art style, he wrote that it does not fit anything exactly, and "it gives a feel of grunge, cyber-punk, and our confusion over the separation of ourselves from nature – or whether a cityscape could now be described as nature to humankind". Campbell concluded: "It’s masterful at what it does in both telling a compelling story and being so visually unique. A mature work worth giving a chance to entertain you". Sandra Scholes, of the same website, wrote that the art is "rough and rugged, much like the character's personalities", but that "there is room for fun in this huge epic novel of life in neo-punk Japan, its sprawling place, urban people and slightly dodgy nightlife", making it a "one off masterpiece". Joseph Luster of Otaku USA, felt that the brotherly bond between the protective Black and the endearing White was the heart of the manga. Regarding Matsumoto's artwork, he wrote that it could be "an acquired taste for some, but I also doubt anyone that gets into it will ever want to let it go". Luster concluded: "Tekkonkinkreet is a mighty achievement that should be inspirational to artists and just plain absorbing to anyone else." Deb Aoki of About.com, gave the series 4.5 out of 5 stars. Aoki was less enthusiastic about Matsumoto's artwork, and wrote that his dreamlike vision of a Japanese city "chaotically" defies the laws of perspective, and it is like "Las Vegas on acid". Nonetheless, she affirmed that the main appeal of the series is its story and "how it touches the heart"; "two orphans become symbols of a struggle between opposing opposites: innocence and corruption, hope and cynicism, imagination versus reality".
Chris Beveridge, writing in Mania, declared: "While it may not be what anime fans have come to expect for a traditional film, the end result is something that while predictable is surprisingly engaging." Chris Johnston of Newtype USA wrote: "Regardless of how much you watch this one, though, this is a film that no serious anime fan should miss".
The manga won the 2008 Eisner Award for "Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan". Tekkonkinkreet won the "Best Film Award" at the 2006 Mainichi Film Awards. It was also named Barbara London's top film of 2006 in the annual "Best of" roundup by the New York Museum of Modern Art's Artforum magazine. In 2008, it received "Best Original Story" and "Best Art Direction" from the Tokyo International Anime Fair. It won the 2008 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
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He sculpted his images from the Tokyo neighborhoods he knows and loves but also borrowed from cityscapes in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Colombo, Sri Lanka, to give his metropolis a pan-Asian feel.
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- (in Japanese) Tekkonkinkreet official site
- Tekkonkinkreet official site at Sony Pictures
- Tekkonkinkreet trailer
- Viz Media official site
- Tekon kinkurîto on IMDb
- Tekkonkinkreet (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia