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?
StoryI acknowledge that there’s widespread criticism regarding this movie; I’ve read in various places that the scenes don’t connect very well, that the director has no idea what he’s doing, and that the visuals are nothing but a failed attempt to compensate for the poor story. I, on the other hand, never noticed these ‘problems’ and don’t see what all the complaining is about. I enjoyed Tekkonkinkreet because it didn’t mistake confusing the audience with being meaningful – despite some abstraction towards the end, I always knew exactly what was going on and enjoyed the ride for the action-oriented symbolism it was. At heart, Tekkonkinkreet is a metaphor for the light and dark sides of human existence – the entire narrative is geared towards establishing this theme. At first Tekkonkinkreet presents an idyll along the lines of Peter Pan in which stray kids can live as they please. Like the lost boys, Black and White live a life free of rules and grownups, and survive by engaging in petty crimes and good-natured gang conflict. Once the yakuza arrive, however, life in Treasure Town becomes rather sinister; events start to spiral out of Black’s control and the movie subsequently descends into a weird, disturbing sequence of events involving a lot of gory violence and bizarre plot concepts. The downside (or strength, depending on your viewpoint) of Tekkonkinkreet’s approach is that, as it gets more involved with its symbolism, the simplistic ‘kids v yakuza’ plot becomes rather secondary. The result is an abstracted ending heavily focused on Black and White’s personal development. Although some will undoubtedly be put off by this, I think more patient anime fans will enjoy the change in focus.AnimationTekkonkinkreet’s environments are exceptionally detailed and atmospheric, and actually remind me a lot of Akira; much of the scenery is a hodgepodge of detail, bustling activity, and inventive colour tones. Opening with a bird’s eye view of Treasure Town, my first impression was that the city looked good enough to eat. The character designs, on the other hand, with their distorted features and disproportionate limbs, are very much a part of Tekkonkinreet’s bizarre overtones. On top of this, the movie offers a handful of high-octane action scenes, which are exciting and visually delightful.SoundBoth the Japanese and American voice actors are fantastic. I especially like the Japanese voice actor for Rat, who manages to be emotive even whilst speaking in low tones. The American White is another praise-worthy performer. As for the soundtrack, it’s a mellow, edgy mix of jazz beats and industrial music. Only a few people with fringe tastes in music would listen to this outside of the context of the movie but it still makes for an excellent gritty atmosphere while you’re watching.CharactersBlack is easily my favourite character. Although his personality could have done with a little more explanation in the first half, his distinctive streetwise attitude instantly caught my attention. Black considers himself to be the boss of the city, which isn’t a far-fetched claim – even the police respect his role on the streets despite his young age. With a personality defined by his mature calm and cocky aggressiveness, Black is instantly admirable, if not necessarily likeable. Moreover, the fact that his attitude easily frightens others makes him highly intriguing. His brother, White, reminds me a lot of Ed from Cowboy Bebop. While White may be freakier than Ed and have clairvoyant powers to boot, he shares that habit of talking childish nonsense and being prone to wild fantasies. I couldn’t engage with White on any normal level since he’s so disconnected from reality; however, he fits Tekkonkinkreet’s style so well that he remains entertaining nonetheless. Although their sibling love is not portrayed as delicately as the relationship in, say, Grave of the Fireflies, the brothers still take a very emotional journey together; I thought the everyday events they shared quite touching. As for the antagonists, most of them are typical yakuza bullies. While the boss is nothing to write home about, a couple of his minions are portrayed with far more care and attention. For example, Rat, an old-fashioned gangster, finds himself caught in the storm of change; new honourless businesspeople are running the show and destroying his traditional way of life. His defeatist outlook in the face of such developments is revealed with a healthy dose of sadness.OverallIn spite of its abstraction towards the end, Tekkonkinkreet has all the important ingredients to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience; after all, the characters are great, the world has a unique flavour, and the production values are to be respected on every level. I think a lot more people would like it if more people watched it, which is my way of saying pick it up and give it a try.
StoryI'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. AnimationThere'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." SoundLike 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.CharactersUnless 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. OverallTekkon 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
First: I enjoy both versions, i think they did a great job with the dub. Wonderful scripts. If you are a plot enthusiast, do yourself a favor and ignore all the people that write this one off. Yes, it can be a little confusing at first because there are several different groups of characters exacting agency and they all want different things. What joins the characters together isn't so much a cause as a place—Treasure Town. Not everyone in the movie has a clear or easy to understand goal, they all just want to exist in different ways and cannot do so without infringing on each other's happiness. This is not a movie with a simple or nonsensical plot that acts as an excuse to show off the artwork (though the scenery and "costumes" are absolutely incredible). It is a movie that forces you to think a lot harder about what is going on in order to get something meaningful out of it. You might have to watch it more than once before you start to understand the clashing agendas of each character. But the cool thing is, it holds up each time. You can watch this movie over and over and get more out of it instead of less. None of the characters are one-dimensional, and there are a lot of them. This movie provides great commentary on contemporary politics. It explores the relationships between the government, corporations, and organized vs. unorganized crime. It poses a lot of questions about what it means to grow up fending for yourself in an urban environment, and what each generation is and isn't entitled to upon being born. It also has a really neat, escapist, Peter-Pan sort of theme about the child's imagination (note which characters can "fly" and which can't, who manages to break into the childrens' world and how) coupled with brutal violence. It's more than just fun. It's beautiful, complicated... quite brilliant actually.
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