I could tell you that this movie is about two homeless street kids called White and Black, who comprise a two boy gang called “The Cats” (which stands for Stray Cats), and fight the evil Yakuza Boss Mr. Snake who threatens their beloved Treasure City. I could even go on about how Mr. Snake is the cruel face of a new colder style of Yakuza that has kicked out all the old school gangsters like Mr. Rat, who used to run the city with as much violence but a lot more affection. I could further talk about how Snake has corrupted Rat’s protégé Kimura and go on about the religious implications of a snake tempting someone. I could tell you about White’s innocence and Black’s cynicism. I could tell you about Mr. Rat’s nostalgia for a more family-like Yakuza who’d tear off your ears and betray you at the drop of a hat, but who would still have the courtesy to call you by name when they did it. And finally, I could tell you about the two cops who try to juggle all of these conflicting personalities and try to keep a semblance of order.
On the surface “Tekkon Kinkreet” is about all of that, but deep down inside it’s about none of that, not really. If anything, it’s a mournful poem about childhood and adulthood. White and Black may be tough and they may jump around and fight like Samurai in the best tradition of Anime, but they are just children after all. When their home is threatened and they have to battle the forces of Snake, the cost of winning the fight means losing their innocence, something that White isn’t prepared to do and that Black is all too eager to accept.
Director Michael Arias has made a beautiful looking kinetic film that’s always in movement. It’s a bit slow at times and the plot has a tendency to meander, but other than that it’s hard to find fault. This is the sort of film that’s so profound that I wouldn’t have any objection about showing it to children despite the violence and adult situations. It would speak to them in ways that their parents never could.
Arias has voiced concern about the uncertain fate of Anime as a genre; and I agree with him that one day it may dry up and finally die, but after having seen “Tekkon Kinkreet” I can tell you that day is not today…