Saturday, November 22, 2008

Anime - Tekkon Kinkreet

It’s not often I get to blabber on and on about Anime that I really love, so I’ll try to keep this simple, although I am very taken by this week's Anime Pick. TekkonKinkreet is not actually a series, but it is a movie (so I guess it still counts). It isn’t your typical animw, but it is Japanese and it is animated, so I’ll categorize it as such. The bizarre style is probably the aspect of the film that attracted me initially. It is based on the three-volume manga series titled Black and White by Taiy? Matsumoto. The series was adapted to film by the revolutionary Studio 4°C, which works hand and hand with the superflat (pop art) movement in Japan…but I digress. As I said before, the film doesn’t look like your typical anime. There aren’t any super deformed gags, and the perspective is pretty crazy, which adds to the fantastical element of the film. In this sense, it translates well from the manga by Matsumoto, although the plot was obviously much more detailed (as it is with most books-turned-film). The backgrounds are both epic and painstakingly detailed, contrasting nicely with the simplicity of the characters of the film. The music was all exclusively preformed by a British electronic genre-based band called Plaid. Even the English dubbing is pretty accurate to the original script and it doesn’t sound bad, either (and I’m fairly picky when it comes to dubbing). As if all this goodness wasn’t enough to make anyone happy, the plot is simply amazing. The film takes place in fictional Treasure Town overrun by yakuza (Japanese equivalent of gangsters), shady business, pessimistic cops, and cats. By cats, I don’t mean felines, but two street-dwelling boys (the protagonists of the story) aptly named “White” and “Black,” who patrol the town vigilantly and might be able to fly. White is young and very poetic. Although he seems dense, he is actually something of a prophet and the wisest character in the film. Black is oppositely tough and street smart, but relies on violence to carry himself in Treasure Town, “his town” he often calls it. Although they have a few brushes with the local yakuza, run by a strangely sentimental man named Rat, White and Black encounter more troubling problems when the town is taken over by a foreigner (who wants to turn Treasure Town into a theme park) and his three superhuman bodyguards (who might be aliens). The plot is very deep and very beautiful, although it comes off as very dark at times. White is constantly opposing Black, and Black relentlessly grapples with the power of his malice and struggles to retain self-control. Despite a couple of rather graphic scenes, the end of the film inspires hope and a positive message that is imaginatively presented in a surreal but clear way. TekkonKinkreet won the prestigious Best Film Award at the 2006 Mainichi Film Awards. It was also named the number one film of 2006 in the annual "Best of" roundup by the New York Museum of Modern Art’s Artforum magazine. In 2008, it received 'best original story' and 'best art direction' from the Tokyo International Anime Fair. It also won the 2008 Japan Academy prize for Animation of the Year. If these awards aren’t enough encouragement to see this film, just try to take my word for it, it’s definitely worth watching and, dare I say, worth owning as well.
-Katie Bogdanowitz, Layout Editor

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