Takeshi Obata is an icon. His work on the horror manga phenomenon Death Note, with writer Tsugumi Ohba, defined horror for a generation of comic fans. The manga Hikaru no Go, with Yumi Hotta, spurred the ancient board game Go to sudden contemporary popularity in 1998. Another Ohba collaboration, Bakuman -- a manga about the creation of manga -- has over 15 million copies in circulation. Obata also illustrated the manga adaptation of All You Need is Kill, a military science fiction light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that was recently adapted for the screen as Edge of Tomorrow.
And Obata's art is gorgeous. He handles Gothic triptychs and domestic scenes alike with incredible skill, bringing sociopaths, pop singers and teen artists to vibrant life. I keep copies of Death Note and Bakuman on my shelf of manga for "people who think they don’t like manga," because his work transcends the boundaries of fandom. He is a master, and he isn't even close to being done.
ComicsAlliance was thrilled to have the chance to speak with him at New York Comic Con 2014 about his work, his influences, and international success.
If you weren't aware that Edge of Tomorrow -- the new Tom Cruise movie that opened in American cinemas last weekend -- was based on a Japanese illustrated novel (or "light novel"), it'd be pretty understandable. For one thing, the title is different. The 2004 book by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrator Yoshitoshi ABe was called All You Need Is Kill. For another, the book -- as Japanese science fiction often does -- featured Japanese teenagers in the midst of a gruesome war for Earth's fate, rather than a caucasian actor in his early 50s.
Publishers of the original work, Viz Media is making a big effort to make sure you know the truth. The publisher is releasing a new manga adaptation of the novel for digital download June 17. The new version comes courtesy of Takeshi Obata, who you may know as the creator of the super-popular Death Note and Bakuman series.
Imagine what would happen if Groundhog Day and Halo had a baby, and you'd get something that looks a lot like the Japanese light novel/manga All You Need Is Kill.
Now imagine that story being pretty faithfully adapted into a movie that stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. (With the key difference of the lead characters in the manga being teenagers and Cruise being an ageless robot man.) That's what Edge of Tomorrow kind of looks like, at least going by the new trailer that went up today.
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