Dynamic Difference

The mention of manga during a recent lecture regarding the fast paced, dynamic framing of action reminded me of one of my favorite manga, Tekkon Kinkreet. Created by the European influenced Taiyo Matsumoto, the story follows a partnership between Black and White, two street kids who have earned a violent reputation around town as “The Cats” the protectors of their beloved city (Treasure Town) from a dangerous Yakuza gang.

What I think sets this manga apart from much of the material we’ve covered so far is the transformation of the Taiyo’s original black and white drawing, to the color adapted full length movie directed by Michael Arias and animated by Studio 4°C. In my opinion both are equally effective in conveying the story of Black and White, however the question I would like to address is how does the adaptation of manga or any comic into an animated film or TV show change, improve or deplete the perceived quality or flow of the original. As an example please watch the attached video link of Aria’s adaptation of a sequence in Tekkon Kinkreet and compare it to the same sequence drawn by Matsumoto.

Action Sequence Black & White v02 026 Black & White v02 027 Black & White v02 028 Black & White v02 029 Black & White v02 030 Black & White v02 031 Black & White v02 032 Black & White v02 033


The same scene, but very different visual experiences, wouldn’t you say? The movie shows this story in blazing color as well as increased sensory detail, we can hear the traffic, the voices of our characters and witness their changing emotions. In a sense our manga has come to life before our eyes, but is it for better or worse?

Matsumoto’s original Tekkon Kinkreet employs a two toned environment, our characters voices are expressed through inaudible speech bubbles, sharp lines trail behind moving objects to indicate motion. Even the flow from moment to moment, action to action and subject to subject differs in the movie. While the film shows longer establishing shots where the frame gains the ability to move, showing a wider view of the street, Matsumoto has strategically emphasized moments in frozen detail such as an extreme close up of Black’s feet as he stands atop the moving car.

Arguably one of the biggest differences between the two would be the amount of visible, diegetic information happening in one frame. During an interview with Michael Arias he backs up such an idea by stating that “in one shot, you can have the image, the movement, and close to an infinite amount of sound, detail and color, something very immediate and visceral.”  As we watch Black and White speed down the road, detailed buildings, clouds, other drivers are presented simultaneously to the viewer, although we are observing this world from our non-diegetic seat, we are completely immersed imaginatively. The amount of information presented in Matsumoto’s paneled drawing limits the reader to a certain subject, space, and action for each frame that is read. While the order of this series of events remains fairly similar the two medias both essentially ‘read’ in very unique way.

Opinions may differ widely as to which depiction of this story is more effective or visually pleasing, which is why I encourage the class to respond with their opinions on this subject given the information I have provided. We may even go further to claim that the very adapting of Tekkon Kinkreet into a movie renders it un-comparable to the manga based on the fact that cinema has a wealth of visual tools at its disposal which may not be possible for manga artists to achieve in the same way.

Links: (Michael Arias Interview) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPzNK3NAhE8

~dcfoy (Duncan Foy)



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2 Responses to Dynamic Difference

  1. ericbailey says:

    I think your post brought up a lot of really good points concerning the fundamental differences between comics and animation. Both the manga and the animated version did a good job of conveying the story with a sense of action and anticipation, however, they achieved this through very different means.

    When reading the manga, the reader must process the images and piece them together and fill in the gaps between panels using their imagination. While the framing of images in the panel, the scale and and the art styling can help guide the reader, extradiegetic material such as onomatopoeia and arrows directing the reader’s attention must be included for a more immersive, cinematic experience.

    Animation, as you mentioned, is able to portray a great deal more information than can be achieved by reading. By encompassing dozens of frames into a single second and combining that with sounds, we are able to perceive the same story with much greater detail and with less effort than we could in the manga. Personally, as someone who in unfamiliar with the series, I found the animation much better at getting my attention. The use of colour, sound and moving images makes for a more vivid and faster paced story than the manga depicts.

    While watching the animation, I felt much more anxious about the story even though I had already read the same scene in the manga and knew what to expect. Hearing the traffic and seeing the background fly past as the cars drove down the road captured the tension and action of the scenario much better than paper and ink could have. While both comics and animation have their merits, I believe that animation did a much better job of conveying the sense of urgency and danger in this scene.

  2. sobchuk says:

    I definitely have to agree with you that the anime was more capable of conveying that sense of franticness, however I think a lot of that is owed to the fact that the anime is more strict with respect to time. When I watch anime I sit back and allow myself to become fully immersed in the experience. I don’t rewind the show, pause it, or fiddle around with the volume, I simply watch the story unfold as the studio intended. In contrast when I read manga, I stare at certain panels for much longer, sometimes to better grasp the information displayed on a particular panel and sometimes because I enjoyed how it was drawn. Regardless, this method of reading creates a sense of disconnect and results in a loss of pacing (a similar effect as to the one we discussed in class last week). Anime does not suffer from this issue as the studio is responsible for setting the pacing and in addition are capable of choosing how one scene transitions to another. So in summation yes I definitely agree that the sense of tension lies in how you “read” the media. On a closing note, I’ve just started reading manga and I was looking for something current that I could read regularly. I don’t have much manga to draw from but I’m looking for something similar to the anime Code Geass. Anyways it just seems like you have some experience with both forms of media so I thought you might be able to suggest something for me!

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