As a general rule, I don't read Manga. It’s partly the small size of the books. It’s partly the having to learn right-left reading. Mostly it’s unfamiliarity with it. This doesn’t mean I don’t browse Manga at the book store, it just means as a rule I don’t buy it. But, something totally unexpected happened the other day. I bought a brand new Manga book. In my defense, it was oversized like a Marvel Essential or DC Showcase and it was standard left-right reading. Basically, it was a Manga packaged and marketed for someone like me. The book in question was Tekkonkinkreet.
AND, this is really hard for me to say.... It was awesome!!!!!
The full title is Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto, published by Viz. Seriously, the only other Manga I’ve read is Gon, What’s Michael, and Akira (most of it). That’s my entire exposure to Manga so you know I don't go for this stuff... but Tekkonkinkreet was really, really, really worth it.
The art is amazing with all sorts of angles, panel layouts, fish-eye lens type stuff. And the story... it's in three parts but each one is distinctive. AND, it's almost Watchmen like with the amount of symbolic little details in panel.
For example, at one point three characters are talking about selling out the city and for 3/4 of the page they are people. But, in a series of three little closeup panels, they are shown with obvious animal symbolism. One as a rat (also his name), one as a pig (selling out the city), and one as a snake (the developer). It was a really nice touch to the story. And the whole book is loaded with sequences like this.
As for the story, change is a major theme, along with friendship, and growth, and all sorts of stuff that I realize now after I read it. It's super cool subtle stuff that really make this not only a good read but a visual masterpiece. It is crazy good.
In conjunction with my new found Manga, this week ComicsAnd… was deluged with emails wondering where we come up with daily ideas and how the team works together. Well, tonight I shall part the veil of secrecy and show you how the conversation regarding Tekkonkinkreet went.
It started with a rough draft of a review I sent to Jim...
Lee: Yadda yadda yadda. You should really buy it. You'll like it.
Jim: WTF - I don't think so - My favorite Manga of all time was Battle Angel - loved the art
Lee: Yeah, yeah, yeah but that's old stuff. This is new stuff. And it's really good. It's better than good... I would go so far as a masterpiece. There I said it. Masterpiece.
Jim: Then mail it to me to read, I don't want to buy it.
Lee: Why not? Afraid of something new?
Jim: No being frugal
Lee: WHAT? You buy 5k books a month. Skip two books one month and get this. You telling me Supergirl is a better read than this????
Jim: What a cheapskate, can't loan a book to a friend?
Lee: You haven't read the last books I loaned you!
Jim: One book, one book!
Lee: ONE YEAR ONE YEAR!
Jim: And yet I send you free books and you have held Revolution in Silver hostage also.
Lee: Damn... you might have me on that one. AND, I have Johnny Hart too.
Lee: So... ya gonna buy it.
Jim: SHUT UP ALREADY
Lee: BUY IT CHEAPSKATE
We go on like this for awhile but you get the idea.
As you can see we have a simple, Older Brother - Younger, cuter, & smarter Brother relationship. Personally, I think it irritates Jim because I am right so much of the time.
BUT, back to Tekkonkinkreet. If you haven't read Manga this is a good place to start. And, for those of you who were wondering how things work here at ComicsAnd..., we tend to be obnoxious and call each other names. Just like family.