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“It stopped, the rain. Wanted to check my tree, the apple.” Review of Tekkonkinkreet

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Coming from the dream combination of the emphatically cool Studio 4C and much admired manga-ka Taiyou “Ping Pong” Matsumoto, Tekkonkinkreet is a movie I’ve long waited to see. Based on those two names alone, you should expect several things – let’s start with moody and stylish visuals; almost-surreal art that gleefully shuns fan-pandering anime conventions and embraces the meaning of creative freedom, and then there is Matsumoto’s dazzling talent for empathetic story telling; his subtle use of natural dialogue and eccentric body language that’s clearly intent on plumbing the darkest depths of the human soul.

Tekkonkinkreet is also known as “Black and White”, and so named are the two main characters; both being delinquent street kids who live out of a rusty old used car in the concrete city-scape “Treasure Town”. Despite being mere children, their gang, the (stray) “Cats”, dominate the violent underbelly of Treasure Town’s yuppie society, their attentions feared by thugs, police and yakuza alike. As is immediately clear, Black and White aren’t normal kids at all; for a start, they can fly, but mostly, they are defined by their emotional eccentricities.

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Black is just that; a black-hearted, blood thirsty thug who is constantly looking for a fight; his attraction to violence borders on sadism and often he can be seen with a giant crow perched on his shoulder, the meat-eating birds that feed off of human garbage aptly symbolizing his pessimistic views on life. His snot-nosed buddy White is the exact opposite; optimistic, innocent and constantly laughing, he has dreams of a future outside of Treasure Town; a vision of rolling blue seas and sparkling golden sand. Black and White live for each other; Black protects White from the city’s violent undercurrents, while White’s very existence anchors Black’s true departure into darkness.

The plot is simply a means to that end, and quite frankly, isn’t so important. Treasure Town is being steam-rollered by an unscrupulous theme park franchise and hence, they need to get rid of the tourist-scaring delinquent kids. Unfortunately for them, Black sees the city as his town too, and his unrelenting intent on causing trouble begins what is a gradual decent into violent madness. The heart-rending characterisation extends to an entire cast of misfits, not least of all a scar-faced ex-yakuza struggling against the tide of violence to forge a better future for his pregnant girlfriend. Early in the movie, this same yakuza shows his professional streak when he gleefully removes the ears from one unlucky fellow.

The tragic and emotionally intense characterisation is well balanced by extended sequences of brutal and kinetic action, not least of all an Akira style opening scene that sees Black and White chasing a group of rival punks across colourful roof-tops and moving traffic. The gravity defying jumps, flips and kicks are well complimented by an emotive electronica score courtesy of British dance group Plaid. Of special note is that the music really captures the beautiful and surreal elements of Tekkonkinkreet, whimsical dreams of a flower-laden future totally at odds with Treasure Town’s overflowing urban metropolis.

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A truly three dimensional effort; the excellent Tekkonkinkreet is a rewarding and exciting movie that offers bitter-sweet moments of friendship and family, morals and loyalty, set in an unrelentingly violent and cruel world dominated by industry and capitalism. Animated with beautiful perfection and stylized to the point of surrealism, it’s a great looking film that both exploits and cherishes the inherent contradictions of the human spirit.

Comments

psgels says:

I agree. Tekkon Kinkreet is a wonderful movie, and a definite contender for the best movie of 2006. It’s such a shame that people won’t be picking this up that easily due to the art-style. :(

bateszi says:

@kauldron26: I’m incredibly backed-up with a number of things on my watch-list and to-do. I’ll hopefully get around to seeing Avatar sooner rather than later, but I suspect I’ll have to take some time off work in doing so *is writing this comment in the office while at work*.

@psgels: No doubt, it’s a shame. And that’s one thing that I find incredibly frustrating about anime fans. It’s kind of hypocritical that so many otaku will claim anime is superior to Western cartoons (or even Western TV itself) when what all their so-called passion boils down to is a superficial attraction to “pretty” characters. To be frank, something like Tekkonkinkreet is beyond the typical anime audience. Another good example is how so many fans have never even heard of Satoshi Kon; that, to be honest, is a disgrace! ;)

Martin says:

I agree. Sure, the artwork takes a bit of getting used to but it’s so fluid and exhilerating that you soon forget its oddness and concentrate on the story! Black and White’s relationship – that of Ying and Yang in a way, much like the symbol on Black’s coat – was the highlight for me I think. One cannot survive without the other: there were so many scenes where that special bond between them (are they brothers? It certainly seemed that way) pretty much holds the film together.

It’s definitely a surprise highlight of the year – unusual in so many ways but it works so well!

kauldron26 says:

jesus christ…. bateszi…. i just finished terra…. omg… man…. dude i havent been that devastated since i saw gungrave. could this be the best anime of 2007??? man… terra is Goddamn mudafucking fenomenal. seriously…. it is why we watch anime.

That Girl Hates You says:

Beautiful, just beautiful. Thanks for the info on this anime other wise I would have never of found it.

World of Anime » “It stopped, the rain. Wanted to check my tree, the apple.” Review of Tekkonkinkreet says:

[…] Coming from the dream combination of the emphatically cool Studio 4C and much admired manga-ka Taiyou “Ping Pong” Matsumoto, Tekkonkinkreet is a movie I’ve long waited to see. Based on those two names alone, you should expect several things – let’s start with moody and stylish visuals; almost-surreal art that gleefully shuns fan-pandering anime conventions and embraces the meaning of creative freedom, and then there is Matsumoto’s dazzling talent for empathetic story telling; his subtle use of natural dialogue and eccentric body language that’s clearly intent on plumbing the darkest depths of the human soul. (more…) […]

Johny says:

I have to thank you, bateszi. I have to thank you for making me watch yet another great anime. Black’s struggle to protect White and his battle with the darkness within him kept me captivated throughout the movie. The original animation style only deepens the experience and fits the story and atmosphere perfecly. Tekkon Kinkreet is truly a masterpiecie to behold.
Sadly Tekkon Kinkreet will never get the attention it deserves, just like so many other great works. I once read a bunch of polish fan reviews of Paranoia Agent. Most od them were negative, saying it’s boring, dumb with horrible animation. I guess anime with a little originality, those that make you think, always loose to simple cute entertainment.
And not knowing who Satoshi Kon is IS a disgrace ;)

bateszi says:

@Johny: I’m really glad you took up my advice on this. I love Tekkonkinkreet, it’s one of my favourite anime/manga stories, not just something I recommend, but something I absolutely adore, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s writer, Taiyo Matsumoto, is a genius. Aside from this, he’s also created Ping Pong and Blue Spring, both of which have had fantastic live action adaptations in Japan.

As for the majority of anime fans, it’s a depressing state of affairs when the average otaku is more likely to recognise Kanokon than Millenium Actress. To be honest, things are a bit better now than they were two years ago, if just because more people seem to be talking about anime like Kaiba, compared with the way Mushishi just slipped under a couple of years back. Though it might be foolish, I have some hope that as this generation of otaku grow-up, their tastes in anime will become more receptive to anime that tries to do something different, like Tekkonkinkreet. May be it’s a fool’s hope?

Johny says:

@bateszi: I have no idea what Kanokon is if that makes you feel any better ;) Anyway, I think you’re right when it comes to fans. The current generation otaku do grow up (I should know, I’m 23 already) and are starting to look for something more in an anime than cute girls with huge… eyes. The problem is there is still very little poeple, who enjoy meaningful movies. One of the things I’ve noticed that causes this are the anime fans themselves. I mean what a typical fan recommends to those, who are convinced anime is for kids. Here’s an example. A guy sceptic towards anime wants to give it a try and asks a friend for recommendation. Most likely what he’ll get is something among the lines of Azumanga Daioh. As much as AD is pretty fun, it represents everything the typical sceptic detests in anime – wierd faces, those infamous tears at the side of the head when somebody does something stupid and sometimes incomprehensible japanese humor. A potential fan is now lost forever. Probably I’m exaggerating a bit, but that happened to couple of people I know.
One more thing. Since you seem to like anime with a different style, you should watch Hundred Stories. The art is odd to say the least. Only the main character looks normal – both the surroundings and other characters are deformed, sometimes – quite literally – twisted, which fits perfectly into the story of the Ongyou, looking for the wicked and making them pay for their sins.

Horoholikka says:

the best movie everrrr!

I love them and I cried several times = m= sigh

Ausdoerrt says:

It was not a masterpiece, but generally a very solid movie. I found the plot to be a bit disjointed and unfinished; not to mention the horrible English sub.

The artwork was nothing short of amazing, but the story could use a bit more work. A great effort though, really enjoyed it. And a good review =)

Sadly, original and interesting anime is always overlooked by fans who’d rather have those copycat VN romance-comedies complete with love triangles, harems and pantyshots, or shounen action. I could make a whole list of anime that was never appreciated enough despite its greatness – but for starters, think Gankutsuou or Dennou Coil.

[…] out of that or Kemonozume, but thinking more about it now, there’s very much an echo of Tekkonkinkreet here, too. Not just in the crows or the urban sprawl, but in how it presents Panty and Stocking as […]

[…] his harsh, sketchy style. It isn’t pretty, but has attitude, is ineffably cool and transports me. Tekkonkinkreet is about a couple of homeless kids fighting for their lives in the middle of an ever-looming […]

[…] was almost too perfect, because as any one who has read Matsumoto’s other works will know (Tekkonkinkreet and Sunny amongst them,) his drawing style is really unique, favouring jagged and uneven lines, an […]

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