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Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Cover artwork for Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White by Taiyo Matsumoto, published by VIZ Media

Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White

© Taiyo Matsumoto

The Bottom Line

Bold and surreal, Tekkon Kinkreet (a.k.a. Black and White) is a manga story that defies expectations. It's essentially about two streetwise orphans in a corrupt city, but this witty, gritty multi-layered story reveals much more to the reader who reads it several times.

Its striking graphic artwork is inspired by European graphic novels, but retains a distinctly Japanese sensibility. In short, Tekkon Kinkreet is a truly original creation that dazzles the eye and touches the heart.

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Pros

  • Boldly original artwork that stretches the boundaries of manga style
  • Compelling story that deftly mixes surrealistic fantasy, gritty city violence with heart and soul
  • Touching, multi-layered story of friendship and innocence lost
  • Gorgeous, full-sized reprint of this series showcases Matsumoto's distinctive artwork at its best

Cons

  • Numerous violent and bloody fight scenes make this a title strictly for mature readers
  • Surreal story sequences can make it difficult to follow what's real and what's not
  • Unconventional story and art may perplex readers expecting 'normal' manga

Description

  • Original Title: Tekkon Kinkurito (Japan)
    Also previously published as Black and White (US)
  • Author and Artist: Taiyo Matsumoto
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1-4215-1867-1
  • Cover Price: $29.95 US / $34.99 CANADA
  • Book Details: 624 pages, black and white illustrations with 16 color pages
  • US Publication Date: September 2007 (All-in-one edition)
    (Prior US edition published March 1999)
  • Age Rating: M – Mature, Age 18+ for graphic violence, profane language and sexual references
    More about content ratings
  • Manga Genres:
  • Other Titles by Taiyo Matsumoto:

Guide Review - Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White

Originally released in the U.S. as Black and White, this wildly original graphic novel by Taiyo Matsumoto resurfaces as Tekkon Kinkreet: Black and White. "Tekkon kinkreet" is explained as a "play on Japanese words meaning 'a concrete structure within an iron frame,' and it suggests the opposing images of concrete cities against the strength of imagination."

Matsumoto's imagination is unleashed and assaults the senses as we enter his dreamlike vision of a Japanese city. Buildings curve and sprout up chaotically defying the laws of perspective. Stars hang from the black sky like cardboard cutouts. These vertigo-inducing street scenes are like Las Vegas on acid.

Against this surreal backdrop we meet his two heroes, the brave and violent Black and the slightly addled White. As the two orphans battle for their place in a city ruled by gangsters and hoodlums, they discover the meaning of good and evil, but in a way that neither expect.

While the artwork dazzles the eye and its violent fight scenes deliver blows to the gut, the main appeal of Tekkon Kinkreet lies in its story and how it touches the heart. Black and White start off as two-dimensional caricatures, but both evolve to reveal uncommon heart and depth to their souls. The two orphans become symbols of a struggle between opposing opposites: innocence and corruption, hope and cynicism, imagination versus reality.

This is not a disposable graphic novel. It rewards the mature reader who takes the time to read and re-read it to discover its multi-layered nuances. And who would want to throw it away? The deluxe format presents all the details and bold strokes of Matsumoto's vision in its eye-popping glory. At $29.95, it's pricey but a worthwhile buy for the comics reader who is ready to explore the edge of manga's evolution.

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