This review of Tekkonkinkreet comes far too long after the movie came out — 2006 — so all I have to say for myself is: better late than never.
Most of my friends are either really into anime, or not at all. And that’s a shame, because Michael Arias directed something special when he took Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga to the big screen. Tekkonkinkreet is anime that transcends anime. It’s a complex movie that is sad and touching and one of those rare pieces of art that I appreciate more with each viewing.
The movie begins with “Gramps” asking his grandchildren, “Black” and “White,” the following question as White strikes a match:
What is it about the fire, so calm and peaceful, but inside all power and destruction? It’s hiding something, just like people do.
Sometimes, you have to get close to find out what’s inside. Sometimes, you need to get burned to see the truth.
From there, Tekkonkinkreet is out the gates and never lets up (the two young boys, orphans, seemingly fly over city during the title sequence).
The central premise of the film as that these two brothers (“stray cats”), must survive and adapt in a changing city. They’re tough kids — the rulers of Treasure Town — and they’re willing to fight anyone who seeks to impose a new vision on their home. Black and White’s story is about the importance of familial bonds, good vs. evil, free will vs. destiny, the loss of innocence and the search for inner peace. It’s a fantasy film that in many ways feels real. Some of that is due to camera techniques and art direction, but primarily it’s because of the care that went into crafting the characters. Like the first five minutes of Pixar’s Up, Arias’ Tekkonkinkreet is an animated film that just might bring a tear or two to your eyes.
One of my favorite moments comes when White describes his relationship with Black to a cop, Sawada:
White is missing lots of screws. I need screws for my heart. God made me broken.
Black, too. He’s broken. He’s missing screws too — for his heart. But I got all the screws Black needs. I got every one. I got every one.
We’re all broken. We’re imperfect. We’re fallible. If we’re being honest, we all know that we’re missing some screws. But there is someone out there — a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, or another loved one — who has the missing parts we need to keep us from falling apart. Some of us need that other half to keep us from visiting the darker parts of our nature. We think we’re in charge, but in reality it is that other person who has all the power because they bring out the best in us and temper our less desirable traits.
If you’ve never seen Tekkonkinkreet before, I highly suggest checking it out. Try and figure out who the “Black” or “White” is in your life, and then share it with them. Hopefully, you’ll both enjoy it as much as I did.