Strained metaphysics dovetail with urban and architectural nostalgia in the exquisitely realized, minutely detailed Japanese anime "Tekkonkinkreet."

Strained metaphysics dovetail with urban and architectural nostalgia in the exquisitely realized, minutely detailed Japanese anime “Tekkonkinkreet.” L.A.-born and Tokyo-residing helmer Michael Arias has visual-effects credits running from benchmark Miyazaki anime “Princess Mononoke” to Hollywood blockbuster “The Abyss,” as well as a career in developing Sega computer games; Asia and animation fests will regard his first anime feature as a must-see. Theatrical prospects will be confined to niche outlets, but a bonanza awaits in international ancillary.

On the street of an unnamed city, literally high-flying urchins Black and White look to protect their turf from invasion from other gangs. While he can be tough in a fight or wielding a weapon, White is an 11-year-old who can’t even dress himself. Slightly older, Black is more worldly and treats his buddy with paternal love. Both look on their city as “our town.”

Also prone to seeing the city as his property is world-weary yakuza leader Suzuki, aka the Rat. Feeling the town has become too placid, Suzuki plots his return, much to the consternation of local police.

Though Suzuki causes some criminal chaos with his henchmen, his connection with the city is authentic and loving. The zodiac-obsessed Suzuki is an affectionate counterpoint to the real villain of the piece, the slightly surreal Mr. Snake.

Snake is acting on behalf of property developers who wish to level the old city (including Suzuki’s beloved red-light district) and replace it with a gargantuan amusement park. For reasons that are not fully explained (but suggest that Black and White are, metaphysically speaking, the true soul of the city), Snake’s gentrification plans can’t fully be implemented while the two feisty street urchins are in his way. To dispense with them, Snake engages brutal assassins from another planet.

Yarn has a tendency to shift gears for no apparent reason, but core story employs philosophical attitudes about being true to all aspects of one’s personality that will appeal to a youth audience.

The apocalyptic “2001”-style finale heralding Black’s journey into himself allows art director Shinji Kimura (“Steamboy”) to really rip loose.

While setting is never named, city closely resembles 1950s Tokyo with a touch of New Delhi and sci-fi thrown in. Backgrounds are a detailed treat that must have required extensive photo reference, but have a vividness that mere copying of photographs can’t provide.

Helming is fluid, giving the animation an extra sense of momentum and life. At fest sesh caught, sound design was top-notch. Title is a Japanese pun on concrete, iron and muscles.

Popular on Variety



Production: An Aniplex, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Beyond C, Shogakukan production of a Studio 4 Degree C film. (International sales: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Culver City.) Produced by Eiko Tanaka, Eiichi Kamagata, Masao Teshima, Ayako Ueda. Executive producers, Naoki Kitagawa, Yasushi Shiina, Osamu Teshima, Eiko Tanaka. Directed by Michael Arias. Co-director, Himaki Ando. Screenplay, Anthony Weintraub, based on the manga by Taio Matsumoto; editor, Mutsumi Takemiya.

Crew: Music, Plaid; art director, Shinji Kimura; CGI director, Takuma Sakamoto; animation, Shojiro Nishimi, Chie Uratan, Masahiko Kubo; character design, Shojiro Nishimi; sound designer (Dolby Digital), Mitch Osias. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 10, 2007. Running time: 100 MIN.

More Film

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content