October 19, 2005
No, I don't mean a 1940s gangster film. Animatrix producer Michael Arias is slated to direct an anime adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto's manga, Black & White, due for a 2007 release.

The Anime News Network article on the topic quotes Matsumoto saying that he saw a 30-second clip from of an animated Black & White from Arias ten years ago. (Actually, they're citing an article in Big Comic Spirits magazine.) It seems like a few errors have been introduced somewhere along the line; that clip is from a four-minute pilot titled Tekkon Kinkreet, which was being directed by Koji Morimoto. I saw it while working at Softimage in 1999 or 2000; Arias (who was working for Softimage in Japan at the time) was, if memory serves, acting in the role of a technical consultant and software developer, much the same as he had done for Princess Mononoke (both productions used Softimage software).

In any case, Tekkon Kinkreet was quite captivating. It'll be interesting to see what Arias can do with seven more years of software development.

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Hi Emru,

Mike here. Hope all is well with you, and thanks for the write-up.

As it happens, the article in SPIRITS was fairly accurate. About eight years ago, well before starting work on the pilot, I put together a single 30-second TEKKON shot, with two of the main characters and a Treasure Town cityscape background. The scene was initially intended as a test bed for the Toon Shaders I was then developing for Softimage.

Through mutual friends I managed to get a VHS of the shot to Taiyo and then pitch the project to Koji Morimoto and others. Morimoto ended up directing the 4-minute CG pilot film, with me, Wilson Tang, and Lee Fulton executing the lion's share of its visuals.

The pilot wrapped in '99 - I think it's on the SIGGRAPH 2000 Electronic Theater DVD. But our original team disbanded soon after that (Wilson and Lee are now at ILM - how I miss them!). And it took me a few years of ANIMATRIX to finally get TEKKON green-lit as a feature with me directing.

We're well into our production now (at Studio4C) and scheduled for a Christmas 2006 domestic (Japan) release. I'm very excited by the look and feel of the shots we've completed, but we've got a good 1500 or so left to finish in less than a year, a frightening prospect! Wish me luck.

Best,

m
Mike, good to hear from you! And thanks for setting me straight.

I'm looking forward to seeing the finished film. Good luck! (Or, I suppose more appropriately, ganbatte!)
wow mike. I just read a thread by you in CGtalk from 2002. Checking the release of TK, as I heard it was coming out for Spring. Nice to know its still in project, coz all the people involved are talents there. Taiyo as the original work author, Morimoto as a fantastic director/illustrator, and you also became famous to me, coz this project and animatrix, (and ppl behind ;). Beautiful cel shading integration, the best ever seen.
Keep it high and hope it gets finished some day, as long as it keeps the good quality. ganbatte! ;)

Jose L.
Hey guys. Chris Johnston, another ex-Softie, here. I've been thinking about the original 4 minute Tekkon pilot on and off for close to seven years, ever since I left Softimage. It obviously made an impression! I'm psyched to see that it will see the light of day.

I've been trying to find the pilot online for ages (couldn't actually remember the name, which makes it tough!) but haven't found it anywhere. Does it exist any place?


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