Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Brief Look into Tekkonkinkreet

Tekkonkinkreet is strange. There's a lot that goes on in the anime adaptation of the original manga, but let me tell ya, it's strange. Art direction, art style, story, themes. It's all so very different from other anime and for that it's... different. But it was picked up by Sony to be published here in America, so it must have some great quality to it right? I do believe that is the case, but at the same time with two viewings under my belt I am left with the same questions.

Maybe I should read the manga. But I've never held an English copy of it in my hands. Right now I don't even know if there is indeed a localization. I've held the artbook in my hands twice now and both at anime conventions. I saw the film originally in my university's anime club 2 years ago and thought "hey, you should buy that someday" and so I did.

Good choice? Certainly.

Tekkonkinkreet follows two kids who live out on the streets without their parents. Their names are Black and White. Black is the older one of the two and seems to get into more trouble. He pickpockets and hangs out with the local gangs while White follows in example at times. They live on an island known as Treasure Town. I'm not sure if the gangs have named it this or what, but the first main conflict comes when some scaly businessmen decide to put a theme park on the island to change its image and make profit.

Black and White are known as "cats" around the town because they are orphans and have no home. A man named Mr. Snake is hired to get rid of them and see the theme park project to fruition. He sends his henchmen out to kill Black and White, effectively throwing things off balance and adding some action to the twist of things. Black and White get separated, and then Black goes through a huge change in thought and lets White go like he was nothing.

I don't quite understand this part of the plot, but hey, why should I ask? Black becomes even more dangerous and eventually begins to lose his mind. White reverts back to the small child that he is but doesn't forget Black. Then, when it's time for the henchmen to finally take Black out of the picture altogether, a Minotaur shows up. He is physical, he is a figure of the imagination, he is talked about. He saves Black and then tempts him to complete darkness.

I can't figure out if the Minotaur is actually Black or if it's actually a person. But I'm fairly positive it's Black's inner self coming out to save him. In the final battle White goes berserk in the room he's being held in, drawing pictures of a collage that creates a Minotaur. What is the ultimate connection between Black and White? It's hard to tell. In the end... it seems Black has suppressed his inner darkness and contains it within himself. White invites him back to reality.

This all happens with a yakuza backbone story. There are key figures in this part of the plot, but they serve as an interesting filler to round out Black and White's existence. I can't decide if I am supposed to care for them and their real world issues, but because Black is connected to the gangs on Treasure Island it seems I should try.

I comprehend maybe 80% of what Tekkonkinkreet has to offer. I am missing a chunk of understanding in the film's realm of consciousness and I wish I could fully wrap my mind around the plot. Like I said, it's both physical and mental. And the mix is so different from what I've witnessed in the past. Sony sure did publish an interesting one here now didn't they? Rock on Black and White. And Minotaur.

P.S. I have learned 3 things in doing some online research for Tekkonkinkreet.

1. The english adaptation of the manga has been released twice now in the United States.

2. Tekkonkinkreet is a mispronunciation of "Tekkin Konkurito", or steel-reinforced concrete. Maybe this reflects on the relationship between Black and White in the story. Maybe.

3. The film was directed by Michael Arias, an American who helped produce the Animatrix. He is one of the very few, if not the only, American to direct a Japanese animated film.

- Jared C.

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