Tekkonkinkreet balances story and visuals, and offers a unique animation experience.
“From here you can see everything.”
I like it when an anime manages to surprise me. For example, the first time I saw a CoMix Wave Films movie – Five Centimetres per Second, to be precise – I was blown away by the studio’s panache for excellent backgrounds and cinematography. Anime is known for its impressive backgrounds and simple foreground elements, but this was on a whole other level. The first time I saw Tekkonkinkreet, I was equally surprised that background art in anime could take on a life of its own in such a way.
Set in the fictional Treasure Town – a hodgepodge of architectural and cultural stylings – Tekkonkinkreet is about two boys, Kuro and Shiro, who live rough on the streets. They claim to own the town, and survive how they can by stealing and parkouring their way across the rooftops. Whenever a new set of kids looks to take over, they quickly drive them out. The yakuza, who have always had something of a presence in the town, plan on building something big, but neither Kuro nor Shiro want any of it.
To keep things running smoothly, the yakuza orders in some outside help in the form of Snake and a group of massive, almost inhuman assassins. Things take a turn for the worst when the kids come across the assassins, barley making it out alive and with Kuro’s sanity slowly wearing thin, it appears that things are slowly coming to a boiling point in Treasure Town.
The story of Tekkonkinkreet is a pretty standard one in a lot of ways, but it manages to work by leaning in to the more fantastical elements of the story. A more grounded version of this plot probably would have made for a more boring movie, so this is definitely a boon. The assassins apparently can fly, the kids can leap from ludicrous heights, and there’s a Minotaur monster hiding within Kuro. All of those elements, and plenty of others, help make the story stand out from others in a similar vein, and give it a stronger identity as a standalone movie.
The relationship between the characters is great, with both boys seemingly have a psychic link, and their closeness really does become the movie’s heart. But there’s also the relationship between yakuza boss Suzuki and his subordinate Kimura, the latter of which is made to work with Snake. Their exchanges, combined with Suzuki’s doses of realism as well as Kimura’s kind soul, makes for some of the film’s best moments. Making the visuals, and the action, over the top but allowing the main characters to be grounded in reality really helps sell the stakes when the physics are so bonkers.
And then we have to talk about the movie’s visual style, which is both is greatest strength and its biggest weakness. The backgrounds, as I mentioned before, are absolutely stunning. Each exterior shot is a work of art in and of itself, which the frames bursting with life with every tiny detail. They are as beautiful as the character art is not. OK, I might be a bit harsh here, but it really is quite jarring to compare the foreground to the background, but maybe that’s the point. Those who have seen Gotham Knight might be familiar with this; Studio 4°C produced and animated the short “Have I Got a Story for You” for that collection.
It’s not a terrible style (and this is just my opinion, at the end of the day), but it does take some getting used to and even then if you’re like me you’ll be pointing out weird anatomical issues here and there constantly. I can definitely see this not appealing to everyone, and though I didn’t love it, the way the characters are animated make up for this. The motion is fluid and with the ever-moving camera, the movie is imbued with liveliness that keeps everything in motion, even during its slowest, darkest moments. Tekkonkinkreet‘s flaws are few compared to its strengths, and the result is an movie that combines great animation and background art with a story that isn’t afraid to embrace the darker elements its premise suggests.
Verdict: Visually impressive, with some great characters and story to boot, Tekkonkinkreet is definitely worth watching at least once.
Overall entertainment: 8/10
Sex: Mild stripping/10
Physics: What’s that?
Shiro: Surprisingly never as annoying as he could have been
Movie’s title: I’ll spell it right first time one of these days
Clichés: The “child draws disturbing prophecies” one.
Moral: Hard to tell. But it seems that if you say you own Treasure Town, you’re in for a bad time.
Also known as: 鉄コン筋クリート Tekkonkinkurito
Director: Michael Arias
Writers: Anthony Weintraub (screenplay), Taiyo Matsumoto (manga)
Kuro – Kazunari Ninomiya
Shiro – Yu Aoi
Kimura – Yusuke Iseya
Sawada – Kankuru Kudo
Suzuki – Min Tanaka
Gramps – Rokuro Naya
Fujimura – Tomomichi Nishimura
The Boss – Mugihito
Choco – Nao Omori
Vanilla – Yoshinori Okada
Dawn – Yukiko Tamaki
Dusk – Mayumi Yamaguchi
Snake – Masahiro Motoki
Kimura’s Wife – Marina Inoue