I was very surprised when I saw the film Tekkonkinkreet listed in Jareds email; it has been one of my favourite films since I saw it a couple of years back when I happened to buy it on a whim. Because I am very familiar with the film and many other works by the studio which made it (Studio 4c) I've decided to research on the manga 'Black And White' which Tekkonkinkreet was based on.
Black And White was written by Taiyo Matsumoto in 1993-1994 and follows the story of two street orphans named Black and White. White is the youngest of the
two and is very innocent in nature, he is also very incapable of doing the simplest of things such as getting dressed by himself even though he is 10 years old, he believes in keeping the peace and believes that God punishes people wi
th impure souls. Black, who appears to be 3-4 years older than white, is very street-wise and aggressive to anyone that opposes him, his personality seems to be the complete opposite of White in the sense that he is always in charge, getting in trouble and doesn't believe in God. Even though they are opposites, they can't live without each other, and in one scene White describes their relationship like this -
"When God made me, I think he made a mistake. I is missing lotsa screws in the heart. And Black too. He's missing lotsa screws too. Heart Screws. God made a mistake with Black too. But I has screws for the parts Black doesn't. I has them all."
It clearly shows their dependency on each other and how Blacks personality is balanced out by Whites, its very yin and yang.
Matsumotos art style has many European influences, mainly French which derived from a trip to France he had in 1986. Although his work is manga, visually it doesnt represent what is traditionally associated with the medium and instead is an obscure blend of Japanese and French influences. It's been described as surreal which is totally understandable when you've had a read of the manga, the realistically proportioned yet unusually unreal appearances of the characters as well as the somewhat warped and odd-angled buildings give it a dream-like or nightmarish quality. This is also one of the things that sometimes bugs me, it reminds me of Tim Burton styled environments with the way structures unrealistically loom over the characters creating an opposing and threatening mood which sometimes annoys me. However the story telling is amazing and is very reminiscent of a gangster flick; Matsumoto is very good at building up characters and steadily pushing them forwards and advancing the story. Also the underlying themes which a softly addressed in the story are drawn from experiences in
his own life such as urban development, the idea of visiti
ng places you knew whilst growing up only to find them torn down or replaced by a set of appartments or offices, small personal elements like this really help to give the manga some life and soul and make it seem real.