Shaenon K. Garrity (shaenon) wrote,
Shaenon K. Garrity

New Smithson!

You betcha.

Just the toned version right now; colors should be up by tomorrow.

And of course there's always a new Chronicles of William Bazillion!

Oh, and a big hello to everyone at Comic-Con last week. It was a hell of a time, wasn't it?

Okay, on to the Overlooked Manga Festival!

Holy crud, Viz not only reprinted one of its awesome out-of-print titles, it put out a gorgeous tricked-out edition with color pages and all the trimmings! What the hell? Did Comic-Con warp me to some alternate universe? That flippin' never happens!

Tekkon Kinkreet (in Japanese, Tekkon-Kinkurito, which means something like "iron concrete/muscles"), previously published under the title Black and White, is the work of Taiyo Matsumoto, one of the top creators of alternative/underground/totally sweet manga. If you see a manga by Matsumoto on the shelves, you should always pick it up, because it will blow your mind. Viz has published a few other Matsumoto works, notably the one-volume Blue Spring and the first volume or two of No. 5. I think No. 5 was the last Viz title to get the axe before Viz switched to its current policy of never cancelling anything, ever, which is no doubt a strain on Viz's Naruto-enriched coffers but a huge blessing to those of us who love Overlooked Manga and would cry hot tears if deprived of stuff like Fireman! Daigo of Fire Company M. Matsumoto is also known for his sports manga Ping Pong, which inspired a movie adaptation but has not been translated. Yes, it really is about ping-pong.

Anyway. Tekkon Kinkreet takes place in Treasure Town, which looks like Osaka there on the cover but is more a fantasy collage of a city: tough, cheap, flashy, infinitely sprawling. The mean streets are ruled by Black and White, two homeless boys, possibly brothers, who survive and thrive by being infinitely more badass than everyone else.

Black is the one in charge; he's smart, fast, and ruthless to everyone except White, whom he protects viciously. White is childlike and permanently out to lunch, but he's tapped into the city's rhythms on a primal level, and in his own way he understands more than Black.

Together, they're unstoppable, as they prove by ruling the local gangs and beating down wave after wave of what can only be described as crazy mofos out to get them. Meanwhile, various cops and robbers wind in and out of the action, preoccupied with their own problems.

Then things go sour. The gangs get meaner. The mofos get crazier. The cops get less patient. A sinister company that builds indoor amusement parks muscles into Treasure Town and starts wiping out everything not under its thumb, with Black and White number one with a bullet on the hit list. Through events I won't reveal here, Black and White are separated, and Black falls under the spell of the masked Minotaur, who promises to wipe out his problems.

If I'm devoting more space than usual to page scans this time around, it's because I can't help it: Tekkon Kinkreet is one of the most visually stunning comics I know. Matsumoto can draw the hell out of anything, and the warped, kinetic, graffiti-influenced style he uses here is perfect for the loopy action-packed story. (Of course, if you want great Matsumoto graffiti, check out Blue Spring.) In one exhilarating page after another, Black and White soar through their cartoon city like superheroes, cut loose from gravity, or perch like birds atop skyscrapers and power lines.

And then the gravity switches back on and Matsumoto makes you feel the impact of every punch and kick in a fight scene. It's just amazing stuff.

Even though Tekkon Kinkreet is mostly all about the art, it's got a strong story, and the two central characters are surprisingly lovable and touching, considering that what they mostly do is kick ass and act totally rad. Their odd, clumsily affectionate, ultimately powerful relationship forms the core of the manga.

Viz has done a fantastic job with this reprint, which collects the entire three-volume series into one fat volume. It's got all the bells and whistles that Viz usually cuts out of its books: color pages, pinups, a dust jacket with bonus art, a pull-out poster, even an illustrated interview with the creators of the new Tekkon Kinkreet animated movie. Of course, this means the whole thing comes to a whopping 30 simoleons, but that's actually less than you'd have paid for the three individual volumes back in the day, without the extras.

Tekkon Kinkreet is just a hell of a manga. Even though I'm including it in the OMF, I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't get overlooked this time around.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?
Pure Trance
OMF Special Event: My Legacy
OMF Special Event: An All-Star Tribute to Carl Gustav Horn
Guest OMF by Jason Thompson: 888
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Tags: overlooked manga festival, smithson
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