Tekkon Kinkreet has the most stunning realization of an imaginary city I’ve seen since Blade Runner. And that pisses me off. But let’s start from the beginning.
A film adaptation of the underground hit manga Black & White, Tekkon Kinkreet (a Japanese pun on steel reinforced concrete and deep relationships) will have your jaw on the floor from the first frame and pretty much never lets up. Treasure City is flat out gorgeous and just teems with architectural detail that at once feels whimsical yet quite real. When the camera moves through the world, you want to savor every second. As far as environmental design goes, the production just nails it.
And, honestly, the city really has to breathe for the movie to work since the entire story hinges on it. In typical anime mumbo-jumbo, the story goes like this:
Black and White, two street urchins, battle an array of old-word Yakuza and alien assassins vying to rule the decaying metropolis of Treasure Town – where the moon smiles and young boys can fly. (imdb)
Despite how it sounds, the narrative sticks surprisingly close to earth. Contrast that with Satoshi Kon’s Paprika, which also visited the US this year. Where Paprika’s fantastic environs led it off the deep end in the last quarter of the film, Tekkon’s do much the opposite — they ground it. Giving much more would ruin things, but let’s just say TK feels closer to Satoshi’s more intimate (and better) film Tokyo Godfathers.
So, what pissed me off? Well, I had the chance to see Tekkon in the theater. Heck, I have a photo to prove it. But I slacked off (well, I saw the even more elusive Colma instead) and I’m now left wondering how those massive vistas might play on the big screen. Considering the box office take, it seems like I’ll likely never know. Bugger.