Despite its name,
For a long time, Tekkonkinkreet wasn’t a movie I had much inclination to see; not only were initial glimpses of the art somewhat off-putting, but it seemed to be getting hype from all the quarters whose opinions rarely agree with my own. Nonetheless, as time passed and more reliable sources began praising the movie, I decided to take the plunge and give it a fair chance- and fortunately, my bold endeavour was rewarded.
It’s hard to describe the appeal of Tekkonkinkreet from basic descriptions alone; on the surface, it sounds like little more than a hash of clichéd concepts- yakuza gangs, wild children, we’ve seen them all before. What really makes the film come to life, however, is its leads and the relationship between them, a relationship neither can live without. Perhaps one of the most touching and memorable scenes in the film is when White explains that both he and Black are ‘broken’, but together they can make up for the missing pieces in each other’s hearts and souls. It is in this moment that we see and understand how deep and powerful the link between them is- far more so than the numerous superficial relationships that often grace our screens.
Of course, every relationship is highly dependent on the personalities of the people involved, and happily both Black and White have much to bring to the table. As the older, more grounded side of the pairing, Black effectively encapsulates the action side of the movie- he’s practical, pragmatic and not scared to fight to protect what he believes in, but no matter how good he becomes at keeping the outside world at bay, he remains vulnerable to the darkness that lurks within his own soul. In contrast, White is as innocent and naïve as his name suggests, apt to wander off into whimsical daydreams or flights of fancy but always safe in the knowledge that Black will look out for him.
Although Black and White are undoubtedly the main draw, it has to be admitted that there are other characters who have a part to play as well. Whilst many of them are there to perform little more than a basic supporting role, there are those who stand out- even the yakuza who are initially portrayed as the antagonists have a chance to evolve into something more than faceless enemy goons.
As mentioned above, Tekkonkinkreet’s ‘distinctive’ character designs are not the most aesthetically pleasing, but if you can work your past those initial impressions, then the film is actually very technically accomplished. Background and establishing shots are always grand in scope, whilst the animation is always smooth and fluid. The music is a bit more hit-and-miss, but generally suits the tone of the film, even if it is actually most memorable when you are in the process of navigating the DVD menus.
More than the mere ‘wild boys vs. yakuza with questionable character designs’ that it appears to be, Tekkonkinkreet plays on the strong relationship between two strong leads to provide something that is oddly touching and memorable. And with a technically inspiring visual presentation to back it up, the film is well able to draw you into its world, if only for a little while.