Blanc et Noir: Takeshi Obata Illustrations is a beautiful, limited edition hardcover book of Obata’s art. Only 10,000 copies are being made, and it also comes with several posters (there are more foldout pages in the book that could work as posters, if you’re willing to take scissors to it).
Because Obata is best-known for Death Note, there is an obvious Death Note slant to the book. It’s page after page of full-color Death Note art, a lot of them issue covers, all handsomely packaged. Still, Obata is not just the artist behind Death Note, and some of his other works are highlighted here, including Hikaru No Go. All the work collected here comes from the years 2001-2006.
After all the gorgeous artwork, there are four pages of Obata explaining his art process, from conceptualization to finished work. He talks about the tools he uses, tips on inking, hidden colors, and themes. There’s also a brief interview with him, asking questions about his career, like how he got into drawing manga as a kid and what his weekly schedule looks like. A few photographs show the steps he goes into while making a picture, though it doesn’t show every single step. The photographs more jump around while the writing is the detailed part.
At the end of the book, Obata briefly goes over all the pieces of art inside. His comments are usually a sentence or two, and he might describe anything from the symbolism of the piece to character analysis to how he thinks the drawing came out. Beyond showcasing Obata’s art, the book additionally does a good job of bringing out Obata the person, because you do get to know him better through this. His tips on symbolism and themes might also have you appreciating the subtleties of Death Note as well. The book comes out to 132 pages.
Blanc et Noir costs $99.99, so it’s a price tag to go with its rarity and the fine packaging. Essentially, this is for fans of Death Note or Obata in general, because that price would probably steer others away. But if you like Death Note and it’s not too pricey for you, you definitely ought to check it out, because it’s quite a collector’s item.
Art: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: VIZ Media
Danica Davidson’s book Manga Art For Beginners is out now. With more than 200 pages and hundreds of drawings, it takes a thorough look on each step for drawing your favorite manga character types, including ninjas, butlers, chibi, bishonen, schoolgirls and schoolboys.