r#130 – tekkonkinkreet

Today movie recommendation is a Winter-ish movie which had released more than a decade ago, won the Best Film at the 2006 Mainichi Film Concours, and a year later, the movie also competed in the Best Animated Feature of Oscars … another year later, the movie won the Best Original Story and the Best Art Direction at the 2008 Tokyo International Anime Fair, it even won the 2008 Japan Academy Prize for the Animation of the Year.

Oh wow, what an achievement! But wait, I bet most of you haven’t heard about this one movie, it’s called Tekkon Kinkreet. I know right, what a random title. So I guess, it’s the time for me to share you my experience and tell you what do I think about this movie. Aight..,..

starting with the plot concept.

The movie follows two orphans who are known as Kuro (English: Black) and Shiro (English: White), as they attempt to control and cope with the violence they find on the streets of the pan-Asian metropolis called Treasure Town, which once was a flourishing town but now is a huge and crumbling slum fraught where warring between criminal gangs takes place. Kuro is a streetwise punk, while Shiro is an innocent dope who’s still out of touch with the world around him.

The two call themselves “the Cats”, and that’s what the people of the town also known them as. Despite Kuro’s and Shiro’s extreme differences, they both consider Treasure Town to be the town that they own, they even work together to achieve the town’s ideals as if they are Yin and Yang.

This whole city’s going to burn.

What is it about fire? So calm and peaceful but … inside, all power and destruction. It’s hiding something. Just like people do. Sometimes you have to get close to find what’s inside. Sometimes you have to get burned to see the truth.

settings.

The movie is adapted from three volumes of manga, was directed by Michael Arias and animated by Studio 4°C. Now, who are they? Because definitely, these aren’t the familiar names we usually come across in the anime community. Okay well, Studio 4°C is basically the producer that stand on the outcast side of our radar, most possibly because oftentimes they refuse to produce anime shows that take the settings of normal life. Most of their works you even are never even heard about it, but a few of their famous works are Detroit Metal City, the famous three movies of Memories, and of course, you may know the trilogy movies of Berserk.

And then there’s this tale about Black and White, a movie directed by a Southern California native filmmaker who’s active primarily in Japan. And yes, you read that right; Arias is basically one of the first non-Japanese directors who managed to direct a major anime movie. To be fair though, he has moved to Tokyo since his early 19’s and already speaks Japanese fluently at age 24; he’s now also married to a Japanese gal and they have already two Japanese children *no racism pun intended lol—

So as you’ve guessed it, what you will get by watching this is nothing like the usual anime movies you’ve been watching previously. There’s western vibe to it despite Tekkonkinkreet is not a movie made for the western audience, while on the other hand, it’s also hard to be watched by the people who’d quit immediately as if Tekkonkinkreet isn’t a Japanese animation movie. Even more for people who are new into the anime fandom, they probably would see this as a Chinese movie that’s just happened to have a Japanese dub —Tekkonkinkreet even took the concept of Yin and Yang, so there’s that.

Basically, this is an anime movie that is far from normal. This is the kind of movie that would be considered overrated for some people, while on the other side the rest of them would say that it’s underrated.

Anyhow, let’s talk about the story.

script.

The narrative of the movie is the simple kind of narrative that goes quite well when it’s exaggerated. But you watch everything from the eleven and thirteen years old’s point of views; whether it involves crime syndicates, a rich megalomaniacal Joker who developed a deadly and surprisingly very life-like humanoid killer robot, to even a Minotaur creature named Itachi … basically whatever happens in the story is 100% still relevant.

But probably one noticeable problem is the sudden change in writing when the movie is two-thirds towards the end. It is after we see the world from Kuro and Shiro’s perspective, the movie suddenly makes us watch the two of them from the 3rd person’s point of view. Naturally, this would make everything no longer as personal as before, suddenly I noticed a little bit of distance, suddenly it requires extra energy to comprehend this two-third part of the movie.

From one side, I kind of understand why they did this, which probably is because they wouldn’t want the movie to deliver the too depressing state of minds, or else Tekkonkinkreet would be waaay too emo-ish and exaggerated, and it’d feel wrong considering that our main characters are only eleven and thirteen-year-old boys. Also, considering that there’s a number of acts of violence and profanity in the middle of the movie already, stepping further into this atmosphere would be way too much to handle.

But at the same time, I would never accept a movie when it suddenly takes a step back and enters a ‘safe zone’ … because I think that’s just not right. And this point leads us to the characters, do they have a strong relation with the story?

casts.

Tekkonkinkreet is one of those movies that can be a disappointment if you watch it only to experience the amazing story arc, because that’s not even the focus of the movie at all. From the surface, it is right that everything is built on a quaint city district that’s called the Treasure Town, and from there also the struggles of Kuro and Shiro develop. But what really present are the personalities of Kuro and Shiro themselves.

As I explained earlier, they are a pair of street urchins known as the Cats by the local. Kuro and Shiro spend their days’ pickpocketing and fighting some new kids that came into their city, spending their nights camped out in the abandoned car they both call home. But the situation suddenly changed when the Yakuza mob show interest in their part of the town. By the arrival of the Big Boss’ ministerial named Suzuki, who returns to the town after a long absence, the Cats immediately know there’s something fishy about their local mob’s movements.

Later, a figure of Joker is introduced as Hebi (English: Snake), revealed to be the one who persuades the Yakuza in turning the Cats’ part of Treasure Town to become a colossal amusement park. With the huge powers standing in front of their goal —keeping the peace of Treasure Town— has forced Kuro and Shiro to fight all the people; from criminals to dirty cops, from a Snake to a Minotaur.

But like I said earlier, what really stands out is the personalities of Kuro and Shiro. And even more, this quality also reflects among the supporting characters such as the Yakuza Lieutenant, Suzuki, who’s depicted as an anti-hero whose story is bound to end in tragedy. He even shines to most are still the Cats.

Speaking of Kuro and Shiro … they are in a relationship, a close relationship which one would care the another like brother care for his little brother, and at the same time, the little brother would trust his life and his future to his big brother even if the world in chaos. They share the same ideals and beliefs of how Treasure Town should be, and above them all, they cannot be separated. They are always needing each other.

From my experience, this relationship is what the movie really explores, the forefront element since the first second of the movie, what it zooms into every detail. Their relationship is touching and delivers a sort of enjoyment in confidence, to even expectation when you watch them rolling in the story. Just like Yin and Yang, our main characters are two different individuals; one’s Black and another is White, one’s childish and another is stubborn, one’s an angel and another is a demon.

Even though they are together, it is natural for them to collapse. And in my opinion, this dilemma should be the most impactful moment throughout the movie, but sadly it’s not.

Unfortunately, the end of the movie takes a turn just like I explained in the previous (Script) section, and this has made the quality of a lifetime in the first part of the movie, disappears just like that. I have no idea why Tekkonkinkreet has a cheap revelation in its end, maybe that’s really how the end of the original manga *I don’t know– but I’m pretty sure there’s something off … something is missing. I was really not satisfied with the end, or maybe I was expecting too much.

visual and arts.

Okay so, we’ve talked about how Tekkonkinkreet has become one of the first anime movie produced by a foreigner, maybe you’ve understood enough considering that matter also reflects on how the movie is depicted in the visual department. Fun fact that I’ve discovered after a few reads; Arias, before he jumped into the Japanese entertainment industry, was actually a former special effects nerd in Hollywood! How awesome is that?

The first difference you’d notice most likely is the characters’ design. They are strange-looking people with narrow body, almond-shaped eyes, and legs that are too thin to logically support their body. And these are just the basic design, you’d be more surprised when they are moving. Their stuff moves weird, especially their facial expression. It’s almost half artistic and super half weird. This is the kind of art style that you’d find in a storybook; one that has a huge amount of imagination, one that would be terrifying if anything in it is moving.

But anyway, while the character design is quite different, but the backdrop is very anime-like; there’s art and it’s gorgeous. Every background is so bright, contrasted, and almost became a contradiction when the characters appear on the foreground, to the point where even though all the objects and environment is designed so simple, I cannot ignore the richness it actually has. The colours are also solid, and there’s this pastel palette -or candy palette, I’m not really sure- that applied throughout the movie, and it succeeded to manifest Tekkonkinkreet as a very moody movie.

Overall, I want to encourage you to give this movie a go even if you think that the animation style is too weird for you to watch. To be honest, it’d be hard to enjoy the entire experience, but at least you can fly with the characters, and walk through the wonderful tale of Black and White at the same time.

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

The conclusion, Tekkonkinkreet is one movie that you’d enjoy the most when you’re looking for something original, something that’s different, something that can weirdly make you cry in a way that other movies couldn’t. For me personally, rewatching this movie last week still was a unique experience.

I still cannot see Black or White as relatable characters, but I can see them become ones for other people. And at the same approach, I cannot see Tekkonkinkreet as a perfect movie, but I can see it turn to be the perfect one for other people —maybe for you— as well.

There is a lot of effort poured into the making of this movie, and I appreciate the production value … like a lot. So even though I lost interest when the movie takes turns towards the end, Tekkonkinkreet still is a rewarding movie to watch. It’s rich and has the depth that might interest you, especially if you’re into like some kind of brotherhood-themed kind of stories. It’s a little bit chaotic and the whole movie is more like a fantasy of an eleven-year-old kid, but it’s still far from the trash can. There’s a lot of values, and I can see Tekkonkinkreet turned to be a masterpiece for some people.

additional pieces of information.

external links: official siteAllcinemaANNWiki (en)AnimeNfoAnison, and MAL

Hiyaa everyone! nesha here, and I can’t believe it’s new year’s eve already! This is definitely my last post of 2018, so I just want to wish you a Merry late Christmas and happy new year! Thank you for reading all of my reviews, and more importantly, thank you for hanging out with me this year —having you here is one of the best things happened to me, seriously. #moe404 has been such an adventure, thanks so much for making 2018 not as blurred as the previous year, you’re more than just a reader for me.

Arigatou!

Once again, happy new year! Keep watching anime, and I think the first post of 2019 will be up this weekend. See you then!

© written by nesha5971
proofreaded by sliceofalfredo

11 responses to “r#130 – tekkonkinkreet

  1. Al! You basically proofread the entire review and forgot that proofreaded is not a word. I love you man. 😀

    Very nice review, Nesha!

    • lmao dont blame him. that part has always been an element added right before i click “publish”, so its always been my stupidity. so dont blame me either, blame my stupidity =’3 also, thank you for reading

    • Happy new year to you too! I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting the update that much. I’m writing something, it may go up this weekend, so I hope you’ll come back and like what you read later! ❤

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