Blanc et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations cover image
Takeshi Obata is a Japanese manga artist known for his work as the illustrator in collaboration with a writer. He first gained attention and acclaim for drawing the manga, Hikaru no Go (1998–2003), which was written by Yumi Hotta. Obata also drew the manga adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's science fiction novel, All You Need Is Kill, with Ryōsuke Takeuchi writing and providing storyboards.
Obata's best known collaborations are with writer, Tsugumi Ohba. This duo produced two manga, Death Note (2003–2006) and Bakuman (2008–2012). Death Note is hugely controversial and notorious. Originally published in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump, Death Note follows Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook belonging to Ryuk, a Shinigami (a death god). The notebook grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name and face Yagami knows.
VIZ Media, which has published English-language editions of several manga drawn by Obata, is releasing a limited edition art book focusing on his work. Entitled Blanc Et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations, it is part of the “Art of Shonen Jump” line and is limited to a print run of only 10,000 copies. Blanc Et Noir is a hardcover book with dimensions of 10.25” width and 14.75 in length (like a folio edition).
This over-sized art book is encased in a silver-stamped slipcase and is stuffed with 132 pages of full-color art, all printed on deluxe paper stock. The book contains several massive foldout posters and 12 pages of artist commentary, including a “how to draw” section. Blanc Et Noir also includes three large, double-sided laminated posters. One of the posters with Death Note as its subject acts as the slipcase's “cover” image, because it can be viewed through the cameo oval of the slipcase.
Blanc Et Noir focuses on Obata's work from 2001 to 2006. That includes cover art for magazines and comics, chapter title illustrations, poster art, centerfold galleries, and other color illustrations. Blanc Et Noir features definitive illustrations from the manga, Death Note and Hikaru No Go. Surprises include video game design (for Yoshitsune-ki), original works created for this book (including Death Note and Hikaru No Go pieces), and rare novel illustrations (for Kowloon).
THE LOWDOWN: Writer Nobuaki Enoki, Takeshi Obata's collaborator on the manga, School Judgment, refers to Obata as the “God of Drawing” and “Walking Artistic Skill.” Blanc Et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations makes an overwhelmingly strong argument that Enoki is right.
Obata's black and white manga art, which I assume is done with the aid of assistants, is a symphony of precision graphical storytelling. Blanc Et Noir shows the purity of Obata's art, showcasing his skill as a color artist, character designer, costume designer, and master illustrator. Obata's elegant crisp style is set afire with a kaleidoscope of colors that he uses like fuel.
I cannot imagine that any fan of Obata will want to be without this book. The price, $99.99, is prohibitive (Amazon.com offers it for a little under $68), and if you can afford it, this is the art book book/collector's set to get. The book, with its use of several different kinds of high-end paper stock, laminated posters, and, of course, lovely contents, is worthy of fans who love manga and the art of their favorite mangaka.
Yeah, my VIZ Media rep provided me with a copy for review. If he had not, I was not above turning a few tricks for the extra cash I needed to buy this. Seriously, Blanc Et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations is the real deal.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of manga “art of” books will find that Blanc Et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations is a must-have.