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.
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)