Old Review: Tekkonkinkreet

Welcome to Treasure Town, a large city that’s situated a futuristic steam-punk world and is run down and potentially dangerous for citizens from crime and vandalism. The city is watched over by two orphaned children, known only as Black and White. Black is a smart but rough kid, embodying the faults within the city, while White is an out of touch kid, innocent but not bright in the head, both work and live together like brothers, and both have a hidden demons within them. Every day, they fight thugs, religious nut-jobs and even a Yakuza group to defend the city from destruction and violence. These battles are beginning to get harder, as a corporation known as “Kiddy Kastle” want to strip down Treasure Town in its entirety, rebuilding it as an amusement park. Both Black and White will need to fight hard to protect their city from the corporations that want to take it over, and from themselves.

Tekkonkinkreet began as a manga in the early 1990s, published as Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White in western territories between 1998 and 2000. In 1995, American born Visual and CG effects producer, Michael Arias had a passion for the manga after a friend of his introduced him to the manga. He made along with animator Koji Morimoto a four minute long Pilot film, which grew in production to become a full feature animated film, but it was dropped after both lack of funds and Morimoto leaving due to lack of interest with the project. After producing the financially successful animated anthology film “The Animatrix” in 2003, he got the help of screenwriter Anthony Weintraub to write a screenplay for Tekkonkinkreet.  Working with Studio 4°C, the film was released on December 22nd 2006. So yeah, this was actually the first anime film directed by a non-Japanese person, which was cool to find out.

The animation is stunning, and possible has the best opening I’ve seen in any anime film to date. The shaky pan around the city as the camera follows a crow flying round the city is really cool to see. There is a great mix of 3D and 2D effects, and the shaky camera effects really gives the feel of a live action, and is real creative. Some scenes are really memorable and the action scenes are really cool. The art style is really colourful, really giving a feel of both a modern Japanese setting and a gritty rough future.

While I do at least admit they’re unique, I don’t like the character designs at all. They look very amateurish, every character is shaped bizarrely, and it’s more distracting than watchable.

The soundtrack is very good, the scores have a large range from electronic, piano, orchestral, and I think there is some Austrailian style scores as well. Each really fit with the settings, and the music in the opening sequence I mentioned earlier is really cool. However, I think the soundtrack dies down in quality mid-way the film, before it goes deep into Psychological horror territory and ends with a brilliant closing theme.

The voice acting in the Japanese dub is good but overall is generic, nothing really impressive. Yu Aoi gives a really childish impression, very sweet and innocent, so she gives a suitable performance as White. Kazunari Ninomiya does give a mature and serious tone for Black, acting like an older brother to White, but when he doesn’t act threatening or emotional, he gets really dull. Other voice actors are pretty bland; the villains especially don’t give any sort of intimidation or fear from them. The English dub is slightly the same, Scott Menville as Black and Kamali Minter as White give a western feel to the film, but like the Japanese version, and other cast members do an equally good job. It’s a shame the dub is no better, when you expect an American to be the original director, and the screenplay written in English to begin with. So really, the dub you choose is up to preference, so you won’t be missing out no matter what choice you make.

I never expected to find a film harder to talk about than Princess Mononoke, but I have no idea what to put from this film. I don’t understand what the overall story is, or what message it tries to place. The relationship, and the personalities of both Black and White are quite touching, but more than halfway through the film, the plot goes haywire. The villain, or villains, really confuses me in this film. What is the purpose for these people being evil? What I can get in the second half of this film is that Black seems to be fighting against darkness in a losing battle, and ends up making him go insane, but the way it’s portrayed is really confusing, it’s fine that they show a lot without needing to explain it, but I bet you would need to watch the film more than once to get everything. There’s a side plot involving one of the Yakuza members, named Kimurai, who experiences the hardships of gang life, which is a lot easier to understand, and the way Kimurai is portrayed really makes him really likable.

Overall, Tekkonkinkreet is a bizarre yet creative film. While the story may take time to understand, especially in the latter parts of the film, the impressive animation and the fitting soundtrack makes this a great viewing experience like no other.

Tekkonkinkreet is available from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The original manga by Taiyō Matsumoto is available from both Nova Productions and Viz Media.


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