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Popular Gang Violence Manga 'Tokyo Tribe 2' Getting Live-Action Feature Film Treatment

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 29, 2013 8:34 PM
4 Comments
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I'm going to have to lean on all you manga experts out there, because it's just not a universe that I'm familiar with, and there aren't any manga pros on the S&A staff.

So here's the deal... according to the Anime News Network, acclaimed controversial Japanese director Shion Sono has begun pre-production on a live-action feature adaptation of Santa Inoue’s gang violence manga serial Tokyo Tribe 2a sequel to his 1993 manga Tokyo Tribe, which was published from 1997 to 2005.

Tokyo Tribe 2 was later adapted as a 13-episode animated TV series by in 2006, and now Sono wants to make a live-action film based on the serial.

The image at the top of this post is a portrait of the characters in Tokyo Tribe 2, and, as you can see, they are black. At least, they look black to me. And this is where I need those of you who are familiar with this specific manga serial to chime in, because I couldn't find any definite evidence that says whether these characters are supposed to be black or not.

Although maybe the synopsis tells us something:

Set in a near-future Tokyo as a turf battle between street gangs, aka “tribes”, escalates into a large-scale war, this is the other side of Tokyo, a Tokyo of a different color. There, various tribes are living. The SARU from Japan's Musashino, WU-RONZE of Bukuro, and HANDS of Shindyuku... Young men living in the city... these young men of the sordid side of life, a side called "reality," are depicted here.

So it sounds like a future Tokyo inhabited by a range of different kinds of people from different backgrounds; at least, that's how I'm reading it.

I did find one message board on which a commenter said that the creator of the original manga was a big fan of American "hip-hop culture" - the music, the attire, etc - and he based the characters in his manga on real-life rappers, which is why they are drawn as you see them, even though they have Japanese names and speak Japanese. 

But, once again, this is a fictional Japan, set in the future, and of a "different color." So as the creator, I suppose he can build whatever fictional world he wants to, and populate it with whatever characters he likes, meaning they don't have easily categorized as one thing or another.

The director is said to be auditioning actors currently, for the Japanese production; and based on what I saw as I researched this, he's not casting black actors. It's an all Japanese production.

So, seriously, if anyone can enlighten me on this, please do, because I'm really curious about the whole thing, and couldn't find much on the web to help in my understanding.

You'll find lots of other images, as well as clips from the animated version of the manga (none subtitled), online. And one thing I was able to determine from all of that material is that it's definitely a very violent piece of work, as you might expect. For example, there's a sequence in which the main antagonist of the series, Buppa (described as a towering, morbidly obese, bisexual Yakuza crime lord with a lecherous, sadistic personality), literally anally rapes a high school boy to death, after breaking his spine during the act. 

If that's your kind of entertainment, well, then this is for you I guess. 

Whether director Sono's film adaptation will be just as violent, I can't say. Although maybe a peek at his past work (full of gory, grisly violent films), tells us something about his tastes.

Shooting is set to begin this summer. A website for the film is live, although none of it is in English. You can check it out HERE.

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4 Comments

  • kwan | April 5, 2013 2:42 PMReply

    Great just what black people need. Another gangster movie, this time set in Japan! Yes so now not only do Americans love the black sterotype, Japanese people do too!

  • eh | March 30, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    YO YO!

    Even if the characters are black in the manga, getting into the acting business is extremely difficult in Japan--especially if you are not Japanese-- or born there illegally (of non Japanese descent.) Japan RARELY gives citizenship to non direct descendants of Japanese people even if you were born there -complete opposite of the US.

    So in the end - there is nothing that you can do unless you find some black people that speaks Japanese well and have a permit to work in the country.

    Nihongo wo hanashimasu demo daikon yakusha desu. (I speak Japanese but a bad actor)

  • Darryl Wharton-Rigby | March 29, 2013 9:56 PMReply

    Konnichiwa, I was actually hired to write an animated version of this manga back '03 for MTV. I know Santa Inoue and he's a good guy. I've read most of the series. During our meetings, I actually asked Santa if the characters are black. He told me they are Japanese. Santa has a love of old school Hip Hip, R&B, and Hip Hop culture. This is a alternative world and universe set in Tokyo. TT2 at its core is a good story about friendship, trust, and betrayal. It'll be interesting to see what direction Sono takes the story.

  • VichusSmith | March 29, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    Manga expert here! :)

    Yeah, I read a volume of this. It was your standard gangster fare, Japanese gangster lifestyle, but infused with hip-hop personality. It had some rough, violent scenes in it. I did actually read the scene with Buppa.

    I didn't think too much of it. It has lots of shock value going for it, but if you tone that down for a film, what do you have?

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