Tekkonkinkreet – Review
by Miguel Douglas on December 31, 2009
Based off the manga Black and White by author Taiyo Matsumoto,Tekkonkinkreet tells the vividly arousing tale of two orphaned street kids who must protect their city from harmful outsiders. Directed by Michael Arias (who is the first non-japanese to direct a major anime feature film) the film has won numerous awards, including that the 2008 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the year.
As I stated earlier Tekkonkinkreet stems from the manga Black and White by author Taiyo Matsumoto. The story takes place in the fictional Treasure Town and centers on a pair of orphaned street kids: the tough, canny Black and the childish, naive White, together known as the neighborhood gang “The Cats”. As the uncontested rulers of Treasure Town, they soon run into trouble as they must deal with the terrible threat of the Yakuza attempting to take over Treasure Town.
Tekkonkinkreet is a very intimate and touching film, which is something one couldn’t judge reading its synopsis. It follows the affectionate relationship that the two protagonists within in the film share, and the emotional ideas conveyed throughout the films story were very poignant throughout. Touching on the Chinese philosophical aspect of “ying and yang” or the notion of human duality, the film quite literally focuses on the need for human attachment and complementation. Various elements within the film hint at the rather abstract differences that both Black and White express; the mere naming of the characters resonate with the viewers to this philosophical statement. This notion of duality is further explored in the characters personalities; for example. Black is an atheist while White believes in god, Black is a rough individual while White is quite the opposite. These striking differences in relation to the aspect of “ying and yang” is even further explored when the two characters are separated, in which they begin to lose their mental stability due to the lack of contact from one another.
Another important theme that was addressed within the film is the effects of mass urban development on the current residents of Treasure Town. Given that most of the proposed reconstruction in the film centered on the replacement of longstanding traditional values as well as architectural significance, with that of capitalistic greed, was a theme I rarely see within the realm of anime and I believe they expressed it well in film. There is this passing of old ways in turn for new ones that presented a realistic conflict amidst the struggle to for future of the town that I found surprisingly refreshing.
The relationship of Black and White is very intriguing to say the least, and the other characters witnessed within the film truly are unique too. Each character is very distinctive and has enough character development to be fully realized as characters we are able to care about (or dislike). But the story is very interesting too, especially with the various elements the film conveys, that of loss, friendship, change, and hope. These qualities shared throughout the story promote Tekkonkinkreet into something entirely special in its own right.
One of the most striking things about Tekkonkinkreet is the animation. Very unique in nature, the animation was done by Studio 4C and is absolutely beautiful to behold. Exquisite in its execution and style, the animation is very abstract and seems almost akin to a dream at times. With the flawless integration of cell animation and CG, it bizarrely breathes life into the film. There are some truly outstanding visual moments witnessed throughout Tekkonkinkreet, and it’s a testament on the part of Studio 4C on how visually stimulated they can animate films. And speaking of Studio 4C, Tekkonkinkreet is very similar to previous projects done by them, obviously this film being the best.
To go alone with the rather abstract visuals, director Michael Arias insisted on having the british electronic duo Plaid compose the entire soundtrack. I have to say their sound strangely complements the attentive visuals that Tekkonkinkreet protrudes, giving off the necessary musical components to effectively convey the emotional stance of the film. The music becomes more of a progressive journey for the viewer as they experience the film.
Tekkonkinkreet is a visual marvel, first and foremost, but you soon realize that it has a very heartfelt story that truly shines through its exterior. It’s a story about a true friendship coupled with a great soundtrack, fantastic animation, and an interesting cast of characters that should appeal to anime and non-anime fans alike. And it’s this very reason that gives the film such a universal appeal and promotes it to a special place within the realm of animated feature films. Overall, Tekkonkinkreet it’s one of those films I can find myself watching again due to the encompassing universe it delivers.