It’s MoarPowah, Planet Earth calling, Agent Pluffei reporting. Do you read me? This is a very peaceful website. Agent Pluffei, keeping the peace, doing my best to fight the bad guys (?) … wherever they may be. But that aside, I hear it’s time for another anime review! This time I will be writing about Tekkonkinkreet, a movie adapted from a 3-volume seinen manga by Matsumoto Taiyou. I will warn you, this isn’t a movie for everyone, as Judge pretty much hated it, but for those of you who are fans of arsty or weird anime, this is a must see!
Without further ado, itadakimasu~
So this movie takes place in a secluded eye-shaped island, a district of Japan called Treasure Town. Unlike other towns, in Treasure Town the most dangerous people aren’t the yakuza or the neighborhood hoodlums and gangs or whatever else you can think; the most dangerous and the ones who run the town are two (acrobatically skilled) street orphans aptly called the “Cats.” One is named Black and the other White (in Japanese, Kuro and Shiro respectively), and each day they run around town keeping the peace while pick-pocketing in their spare time.
Overall, this movie is indeed very strange. For starters the art style is pretty out there. It’s the entire opposite of fan service, in fact it looks like scribbles. Although the character designs were very imaginative, the people still look like ugly scribbles. The only good things that arise from this are probably that the expressions actually turn out very well, there is never really a blank face, and that budget is allocated to more important things. Nonetheless, it still bothered me a lot for the first 10 minutes I watched.
After that, the art sort of grew on me, namely because the actual animation quality greatly offset the fact that the people looked crappy. The backgrounds are almost photo-realistic, and there is never any excess blank space. It’s like they tried to fill up every space possible with some sort of color-tastic blotches. Also, there are numerous fight scenes, and all of them are really fluid and fast-paced. Even when Black and White aren’t fighting, the way they walk and, in general, move very well convey their mood. What gets better is that the soundtrack is awesome. It’s very action-y, and the recurring theme is kinda East-Meets-West-esque; it’d be great even stand-alone. This is my second watch-through, so I was actually paying attention for this. Oh, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation does the ending song. In conclusion, weird faces? A minor setback.
The cast contains a variety of interesting characters, ranging from an impotent (he brings it up often) rookie cop to blue machine-like assassins to an old and sentimental yakuza. But first let’s discuss Black and White. White describes their relationship best when he says that although both of them are missing “screws” in their heart, they each have what the other doesn’t. Like his name may imply, Black is cold and calculating, almost like a villain. On the other hand, White childlike, to the point of retardedness, and has a very kind heart. Nonetheless, despite their contrasting personalities, White and Black’s brotherly bond is incredibly strong. Instead of being opposites, it is better to see them as complements of one another. Instead of hindering one another’s progress in life, together they create a stronger and more balanced whole.
Onto the side characters. In this movie, the side characters are actually the ones moving the plot along. Sentimental Yakuza Rat (real name Suzuki) and his earnest protege Kimura are hired to run down some businesses in town. However, Kimura is severely injured by Black one night because of his interference in the town’s day to day life, and so he basically gets kicked off the team.
Rat later bails on his sponsor when he finds out that the actual reason for his hire was so he could help this shady guy, Snake, create an amusement park in the town. Doesn’t sound that bad, except it’s obvious that all the sponsor cares about to profiting off the project by milking his fellow townsmen dry. That, and Snake decides to tell his three blue-skinned goons to take out Black and White.
The turning point of the movie is when White gets stabbed by one of Snake’s goons. Black loses confidence in his ability to protect White, and he lets the town cops take White into their custody. It turns out that instead of Black protecting White, it is actually White who is doing the protecting and supporting. Without White, Black is an aimless and violent killing machine. He eventually loses his mind and almost succumbs to the Minotaur, who was supposed to be an urban myth. In fact, the Minotaur is actually a representation of the darkness of Black’s heart. The Minotaur promises to make Black invincible, but in exchange Black would become a real villain; he would be consumed by hatred and fear, and he’d thrive on destruction.
Although hard to follow, the message that Tekkonkinkreet tries to convey is actually pretty staple. Strength isn’t everything; savor what you have before you lose it; bad guys always lose; don’t go to the dark side, etc. Its the way that the message is conveyed is what needs deciphering. The plot jumps around a lot and seems pretty pointless when you focus on looking for where the plot is going. What you should actually be asking is where the characters are going. Rather than a story about what is actually happening around Black and White, the story is about how Black and White are forced to change because of what happens around them. The plot is actually secondary to the character development. Slap on a bunch of symbolism and this gives rise to problems such as incoherence in story-telling and too many ‘WTF’ moments.
Gochisousama deshita, over and out!