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 2, a 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.