Monday, November 12, 2007

Tekkon Kinkreet (Japan 2006)

A crazy hybrid of American and Japanese animation work together to produce something undoubtedly different from typical anime fare, but with Tekkon Kinkreet, the final product is a mixed bag consisting of questionable animation and storytelling. The director, Michael Arias, and co-screenwriter Anthony Weintraub, are both best known for their work on the Animatrix series. Need I say more? And no...that isn't a compliment.

In Tokyo, in an area known as Treasure Town, the youth (referred to by public at large as "Cats") have taken over the streets and seem to run wild in an almost, "Lord of the Flies" fashion. Shiro/White (Yu Aoi) and Kuro/Black (Kazunari Ninomiya) are inseparable and get by on a day-to-day basis by pick-pocketing strangers and hustling in order to survive. Kuro has a reputation for running things on the street level in Treasure Town, and the police seem to understand and respect it as if there's nothing they can do about it. The boys seem content with their way of life, until an unforeseen Yakuza threat marches its way into town and makes plans to tear things down so they can build an amusement park, all in the name of monetary gain. As you can imagine, Kuro and Shiro aren't going to just sit back and let these guys take over their town, so Kuro goes on the attack in order to make his point. The Yakuza enlist the help of an evil, and sexually-ambiguous character by the name of Hebi/Snake (Masahiro Matoki) who promises to eradicate the "cat" problem with help from his three assassins. The assassins prove to be a major threat to our two protagonists and after a near fatal experience for Shiro, Kuro allows the police to take his young friend into custody for safety's sake. With Shiro out of his life, Kuro begins to become consumed with rage and a strong desire to exact revenge on the yakuza, Hebi, and the assassins. He continues to let these negatives feelings and emotions take over which sends him into a spiral of insanity. As Shiro so elegantly puts it, "I have all the screws that Kuro needs for his heart". In other words, the two young boys complete each other, and when they're separated, they become different people. Kuro needs Shiro so he can take back the city they love so dear, but in his current state, how will he survive long enough to make their dreams come true?

Right from the get-go, it's obvious that this story is all about balance. Even the trailer makes this point crystal clear, with the boys names, Black and White, being the biggest sign of all. As Kuro/Black's mental state continues to deteriorate, it's clear that he needs Shiro/White in his life in order to maintain "balance". There isn't much more to say about the story than that, because that really is the message being conveyed. Let's talk a little bit about what everyone says is the greatest aspect of this movie; the animation and visual design. Call me crazy, but I have to say that the visuals are entirely unimpressive and are worsened even more so by the use of CGI. How these "simplistic" character designs are examples of "amazing visual design" is beyond me. Even the animation of the characters is far from being fluid. The only attention to detail in Tekkon Kinkreet is in the background design, which would be great if Treasure Town felt like more a character, but it doesn't. The characters, aside from Shiro, are equally unimpressive, to the point where you don't really care whats happening to them. There was no emotional connection to any of them, so I really didn't care that Kuro was going crazy without his friend by his side. To make matters worse, the story is really run-of-the-mill stuff, with an attempt at conveying a more meaningful underlying message, but the impact is lost, again, due to uninteresting characters.

Scattered throughout my review for Tekkon Kinkreet, you probably caught the word that really sums up the movie as a whole: unimpressive. Granted, I much rather prefer the styling of Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Otomo, but I'm willing to give anything a chance. Unfortunately, the powers responsible for Tekkon Kinkreet can't even light a torch to the aforementioned names and it's painfully obvious. If this is an example of the direction "new anime" is headed in, I think I'll gladly stay rooted in the past. (Lee)

Buy Tekkon Kinkreet on US Version DVD, US Version UMD, US Version Blu-ray DVD, Limited Edition Korea Version DVD, English Subtitled Hong Kong Version DVD, 2-Disc Limited Edition English Subtitled Hong Kong Version DVD, Hong Kong Version VCD from YESASIA!

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