I'm a big fan of Studio 4C; self-described classics such as End of the World and Princess Arete, not to mention various shorts in The Animatrix, are older Studio 4C titles that I feel should not be missed by any anime fans. Thus, when I saw that Tekkon Kinkreet was also created by Studio 4C, I couldn't help but watch it. Unfortunately, Tekkon Kinkreet ended up being an even larger disappointment than Paprika.
In a cinematic fashion, Tekkon Kinkreet opens with a sweeping and panoramic shot of a rusty and run-down city - the camera flying through the air alongside a flock of birds. It is this shot alone that instills a sense of excitement and wonder - and ultimately ends up being the major disappointment due to how high it sets your expectations.
In a plodding and inconsistent manner, we are introduced to the main players of the story: two orphans, the violent Black and potentially mentally-handicapped White, a random band of Yakuza mobsters, and the pale-faced villain of the story. Further obfuscating any chance of a well-paced introduction is the inclusion of endless amounts of dialogue, coupled with admittedly gorgeous animation techniques. You are generally so enthralled with the pretty CG and bizarre character designs that it's difficult to pick up on the very weak and uninspiring plot.
And what is the plot, you ask? Two orphan children try to stop a bad man and his cohorts from tearing down the city and building an amusement park for their own profit. I guess the goal of the story is to make you feel sorry for the kids, to want them to be able to keep living in poverty in their squalor, etc. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not feeling it. Perhaps part of the reason is because the kids are shown as being violent and somewhat ruthless (at least on the part of Black); regardless, it wasn't convincing.
Ultimately Tekkon Kinkreet's major failure is its pacing and direction - you are jerked abruptly from scene to scene in a flurry of pretty effects, and eventually are left to ponder the question, "why am I still watching this?" There is absolutely no sense of flow; each scene stands alone, while the transitions between them seem forced and unnatural.
Unfortunately, the poor pacing and direction unwillingly places another black mark on the idea of American intervention into the anime world, as Tekkon Kinkreet, while produced through Studio 4C in Japan, was directed by the American Michael Arias. Whether these problems are based on the direction of Arias, or the story itself, remains to be unseen; regardless, the failure will surely be judged as indicative of American "interference" into the anime realm.
There's no mistaking the animation of Studio 4C; it's incredibly detailed like a Miyazaki film, but gritty and primitive enough that it could come from the loins of no other. Tekkon Kinkreet tries to up the bar a little by incorporating loads of stunning CG shots, which are seamlessly integrated. The beginning of the film is most impressive, showing the kids jumping from flying car to flying car, with the rest of traffic zipping along in the background.
Later on in the film, though, the story and character development take a major back seat while the animation tries in vain to support the sinking ship. Gorgeous panning and zooming effects introduce each scene, which presumably is done to distract us from the god-awful pacing and flow. Distracting from a poor story is possible; distracting from poor pacing is pretty much impossible.
The last thing I'll say about the animation is that the character designs are unmistakably ugly. Though the background shots are complex and rich with life, the characters are overly simplistic and unattractive; nothing but basic lines and shading compose their faces and bodies. The main villain reminds me of Astroboy days, when certain characters had noses that looked an awful lot like a limp... "you know what."
Like its animation, Tekkon Kinkreet's audio is well chosen. Cinematic orchestral tracks are mixed with an occasional high octane EBM piece - both of which fit perfectly with the scenes in question. Very often though, there is no music at all; the silence instead is highlighted by a very convincing array of sound effects.
Unless Tekkon Kinkreet was made, on purpose, to be all style and no substance, its goal was undoubtedly strong character development. Saying this goal is not met is an understatement. Black and White are unconvincing, the main villain is predictable and boring, and the stories of minor characters are forgettable in the midst of the flurry of confusion. In addition to the normal human characters, we are introduced to some fantastical ones as well: the indestructible soldiers that can defy gravity at will, and something called the Minotaur which surfaces near the end (and is the cause of massive amounts of eye rolling). I felt nothing for any of the characters and any attempts at development seemed forced and fake.
Tekkon Kinkreet aims at being a masterpiece, but fails due to poor pacing, poor direction, and a lack of character empathy or development. The story is confusing and can't decide if it wants to be a human tale of strength or a fantastical tale of mystery, and the admittedly gorgeous animation is lovely, but distracts from the inherent problems the film has. Watch Tekkon Kinkreet if you want 110 minutes of interesting animation and fitting music; otherwise, steer clear of this one
In the rusty and run-down Treasure Town, young orphans in their respective gangs rule the roost and use the landscape as their playground. The violent Black and naïve White are two such orphans who are unafraid of fellow children and Yakuza alike; never have they found a foe who could best them in a battle – until now. A strange man and his even stranger (and seemingly indestructible) henchmen have plans to tear down Treasure Town and erect an amusement park in its place, and they’ll cut down anyone who stands in their way. Can Black and White save their home, and each other?
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.