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Anime Monday: Tekkonkinkreet

Tekkonkinkreet, boiled down to the basics is a story about good and evil, yin and yang. Two, young orphaned boys, Kuro and Shiro, live in the fictional town of Takaramachi. The boys are better known as Black and White, very subtle. They run Treasure Town, as they like to call it, and are themselves known as the Cats. They’re little menaces that run rampant striking fear and unwilling respect in kids, adults, and authority alike. Black and White are doing well for themselves, or at least as well as two homeless children can, until crooks infiltrate their turf. Black ambushes the crooks at their headquarters to scare them off. Unbeknownst to Black, they are working for Snake, a powerful gangster who runs adventure parks as a front. Black and White soon find themselves besieged by superhuman hitmen. Their lives and friendship are endangered as they fight to survive and keep their Treasure Town.

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Visually, I truly enjoyed Tekkonkinkreet. It’s a visual feast with fun cinematography and rich backgrounds. Tekkonkinkreet might have the best camerawork of any anime film I’ve seen to date. Cel-animation is used in combination with computer animation to provide a kinetic film. The camera whips, careens through alleyways, and tracks from an overhead shot of traffic into the interior of a car. I’m not a big fan of mixing computer animation and cel animation because I usually find it distracting. It’s blatantly obvious. It can stick out like a sore thumb amidst beautifully drawn world. Done poorly, it can look like 3D models with drawings pasted on top, but the film steers clear of that misfortune. I can’t imagine Tekkonkinkreet without it. A lot of care and attention was given to crafting it well. Yeah, there’s a few instances where it’s not perfect, but it works. The color palette is another plus. It’s splashy, but not over saturated. The colors look slightly faded giving Treasure Town a gaudy yet grimy look. A clock tower with animatronics is gorgeously drawn. It’s definitely worth a pause to admire the artist’s handiwork.  In comparison, the characters are drawn with goofy simplicity. That’s a compliment though. They look unique. Jagged lines and odd angles define their hair lines, mouths, and clothes.

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The story is solid as well. The narrative conflicts provide a catalyst for deeper exploration of Black and White’s consciousness. Again, the animation excels by giving each conscious its own special look. Black and White are endearing protagonists. They’re narrative arc can be coy, they are children after all. Their innocence, especially White’s is a big part of the narrative. However, these are homeless orphans who routinely beat the crap out of other kids and adults. They’re not that innocent, and the film doesn’t shy away from exploring their darker selves. The movie delves into rather dark themes, especially with the adult gangsters. If this sounded like a kids film up, it isn’t! There’s nudity and gore to spare. Unfortunately, the adult storylines are not as well-developed as Black and White’s. The film is adapted from the manga of the same name. I got the feeling that a lot was cut out to fit the story into a feature-length film. That’s fine, and is not necessarily a problem. Black and White, as the protagonist, have a well-structured narrative that makes sense within the film. Other characters and plot points don’t work as well, feeling either superfluous or underdeveloped.

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Whether one has read the manga or not, Tekkonkinkreet is an enjoyable watch. It’s action packed and keeps you captivated from beginning to end. The imagery is amazing, and the animation is on the higher end of the spectrum. It all comes together with a solid narrative. It’s a must watch for anime lovers.

 

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I'm a passionate cinephile who prefers the dark interiors of the movieplexes to the beautiful outdoors. You can find me with a grin and a bucket of popcorn at the movies or here in our Movies section!

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