Friday, 28 September 2007
Tekkon Kinkreet (2006) dir. Michael Arias
Voices by: Kazunari Ninomiya, Yu Aoi, Masahiro Motoki, Min Tanaka
Guest review: Pasukaru
“Tekkon Kinkreet” is the directorial debut of Michael Arias, an American living in Japan, which actually makes it first major anime directed by a non-Japanese. His career is linked to major movers and shakers in the industry such as Hayao Miyazaki (“Princess Mononoke”) and the Wachowski Brothers (“Animatrix”). The film is adapted from the early 90’s manga “Black and White” by Taiyo Matsumoto. Despite the pedigree, the film falls short from being a genuine success.
“Tekkon Kinkreet” (a Japanese pun derived from iron-reinforced concrete) is set in - you guessed it - a fantastic urban landscape called Treasure City. It’s a hedonistic playground for everyone from ankle-bitters to old perverts. The narrative follows two street urchins: the hard-hitting ‘Black’ and snot-nosed ‘White’. The city is basically territory for their frivolous gang scraps and petty crimes. Black and White are the thorn in the side of the local yakuza, who can’t catch them as they fly and bounce off rooftops like a couple of maladjusted brats from Neverland. All is fine and dandy for our heroes until a snake-faced outsider, planning to build a sky-scraping kiddy funland, takes over the yakuza operations. Aided by three Terminator-like alien assassins the snakeman faces off against the troublesome street kids in a climatic fight in the gnarly theme park.
The film gets interesting when White is seriously injured and separated from Black. The two kids have a symbiotic relationship, and when torn apart sends Black off the deep-end and White crying annoyingly with no end at all. Black develops a minotaur-faced alter-ego that’s more evil than anything the baddies can throw at them, which Black must confront in the end before it consumes him. This all serves as an interesting allegory for neglected youth and the contradictions of adulthood, making this far more interesting than the rambling plot.
The film is visually impressive, and to some extent experimental. I loved the sprawling funkadelic city and the kinetic action. The aesthetics are a mixture of childlike drawings, sophisticated camera movements, and realistic settings. The blend makes for some pretty awesome stuff. The expressionistic dream sequences are especially noteworthy. Though not new to the genre, “Tekkon Kinkreet” presents a fine balance of mainstream and art-house anime, delivering an auteur-powered piece de resistance… or should I accredit this to the manga?
Are we talking masterpiece? Unfortunately, no. The main plot is unfocused, the kids get irritating at times, and as a whole the film lacks real emotional resonance. Missing was a genuine visceral reaction. The potential for the material to blow my mind made the film all the more disappointing. It’s too little of what you want, and too much of what you don’t want. There are definitely enough marvels to recommend “Tekkon Kinkreet” to anime fans, though your average neophyte might feel indifferent to the whole thing.
Buy it here: Tekkon Kinkreet