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Manga / Tekkonkinkreet

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Sawada: Cats? What cats?
Fujimura: Strays. Orphans. Delinquents who rule Treasure Town. They live by the law of the jungle. The city is their playground. Underestimate them and you'll kiss asphalt.

Tekkonkinkreet (a mispronunciation of the Japanese word for "reinforced concrete"), also titled Black & White for its first English edition, is a manga by Taiyou Matsumoto which was serialized in the seinen magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1993 to 1994 and compiled into three volumes. It was adapted into an anime film in 2006 by Studio 4°C, the animation studio known for creating The Animatrix.

The plot centers around two delinquent brothers called Black and White. Black acts as the tough, streetwise leader, while White is the childish and innocent half of the pair. Together they form the gang known as the Cats and rule Treasure Town, a decaying metropolis that is both colorful and dangerous. However, the yakuza known as Suzuki "The Rat" and his boss move in along with their plans to change Treasure Town with negative consequences for the Cats. With the yakuza's appearance come even bigger threats to Black and White, including superhuman aliens charged with hunting them down, and a mysterious creature called the Minotaur with a reputation for cruelty.

One of the central themes of the story is the duality of the orphaned brothers. White needs Black to help protect him and Black needs the upbeat White to remind him of his humanity. Once separated from White, Black slowly succumbs to his inner darkness and White must bring him back.

The film adaptation is notable for having an American director, a fellow by the name of Michael Arias, who previously produced The Animatrix.

This anime provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Noticeable still, but mitigated thanks to a blend of traditional graphics with 3D animation, and the appropriate use of cel shading (for vehicles) that goes fairly well with the design of the characters.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The "Aliens".
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Kiddy Kastle.
  • Anti-Hero: Black has a reputation for violence.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Kimura, when he shoots Suzuki. He loses his composure entirely when Suzuki reminds him to ditch his gun, clothes, etc. (Much like a father seeing his son off to graduation.)
  • Arc Words: "This is my town."
    • "Love is all you need."
    • "Don't worry, don't worry..."
    • "Be happy, be happy."
    • "I have the screws he's missing."
  • Arrow Catch: The Minotaur performs one, then uses the arrow to stab an alien in the eye.
  • Badass Boast: While playing with Black, White claims he has the strongest kick in the world. He does it much more seriously later, when he burns a man alive after boasting that while he might be smaller than adults, he's still a giant in comparison to ants.
  • Badass Cape: Black, when succumbing to the Minotaur.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The strip club scene.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Black and White escape one of Mr Snake's henchmen by climbing out of a bathroom window.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: The entire film is covered in graffiti, and the bathrooms are no exception.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Black being consumed by his doppelganger, "the Minotaur", who tempts him into becoming Treasure Town's most lethal criminal.
  • Big Bad: Snake is the head of the Kiddy Kastle corporation who plans to tear down Takaramachi and rebuild it as a theme park, sending the Yakuza to kill Black and White for interfering.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Suzuki is established as the main threat in Act 1, but his power quickly starts to wane. Dusk and Dawn are a comedic example.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Treasure Town is a peculiar mix of early 20th century Japanese architecture and absurdly elaborate examples of classic Middle-Eastern, Indian and Chinese architectures.
  • Blood Knight: Black is very... eager to defend "his town".
  • Brains and Brawn: Mr. Snake calls himself the "brain" and his three superpowered henchmen the "muscles".
  • Catchphrase: "Hello! It's Japan, planet Earth calling! Agent White reporting! Do you read me? This is a very peaceful planet. Agent White: Keeping the peace, doing my best to fight the bad guys, wherever they may be. Over and out." ...And different variations of that throughout the movie.
    • Also, White's attitude towards life can be summed up as: "Be happy, be happy/Don't worry, don't worry".
    • Black also insists that Treasure Town is "his town".
  • Cheerful Child: White, though he's actually pretty deeply disturbed and is able to remain cheerful only because of his obliviousness.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Black and White's promise and the apple tree.
  • Children Are Innocent: Harshly averted. Black has a little too much fun beating people with a steel pipe and White burns one of the Aliens ALIVE.
    • One could argue that they are capable of these frightening acts because they are so innocent that they don't fully grasp how horrible they are. White especially is described as a true innocent by one of the secondary characters.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: White, big time.
  • Combat Parkour: The two boys, White and Black, have some incredible jumping skills when combat oriented.
  • Comforting Comforter: Black covers up White when the latter is sleeping in the car.
  • Compartment Shot: A shot from inside a washing machine onto Black.
  • Constantly Curious: White. The car he sleeps in is full of interesting stuff he's picked up.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Subverted, as while this does give Black and White a lot of freedom, it's also highlighted as the root of virtually all their problems.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster for the film makes it out to be an upbeat romp. It's not.
  • Creepy Crows: Black's dark personality is represented by him being followed by a crow. White is represented by a dove.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Dusk and Dawn who provide exposition for the Treasure Town and the Cats at the beginning of the film, only to be thoroughly trounced by Black. They reappear later in the film to give the first warning about the Minotaur's approach.
  • Defector from Decadence: Suzuki, and later Kimura.
  • Delinquents: Well, duh.
  • Deranged Animation: Most notably during the Minotaur sequence.
  • Disney Death: For a few minutes you really do think White is going to die from his stab wound.
  • Dissonant Serenity: White, when burning one of the Aliens to death and almost getting Black burned as well.
  • Dramatic High Perching: Black and White are often seen watching the city from somewhere high up.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Enemy Without...Or is it Enemy Within?
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Suzuki has nostalgia for the old neighborhood and doesn't want to see it torn down. Fujimura ribs him about this, saying that he's wiftful about his own brothels and gambling houses, but Suzuki believes that his businesses performed a public service.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Snake, held at gunpoint, idly asks Kimura what motivated his betrayal.
    Kimura: Love, and truth.
    Snake: Huh.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Snake's colossal rotating metal tower looms over Kiddy Kastle.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Suzuki treats death with the same mellow attitude as he does everything else, though he is a Death Seeker by this point.
  • Finger in the Mail: Kimura's Establishing Character Moment is chopping off a delinquents ears and sending them to his friends.
  • Foreshadowing: "What if Black is the Minotaur?", says one character. Several other scenes also foreshadow this reveal. The anime's opening scene in particular is a blatant metaphor about how Black holds a terrifying darkness inside him and White, the only thing holding him back, must eventually confront this in order to save him.
  • Four Is Death: Snake and his three henchmen.
  • Friendly Enemy: Suzuki and Fujimura go back a long way. Fujimura mocks the aging gangster's impotence, but quickly shows concern when he wanders alone into gang territory.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The Aliens' speech is translated as a bunch of wingdings and gibberish.
  • Glory Days: Suzuki flashes back to his days as an old-guard yakuza when Treasure Town was in its heyday.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Black does wear his sometimes, if only to look cool.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kimura, whose morality improves after he's scarred, and Black, particularly the one on his hand which symbolises his inner battle with the Minotaur.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Of the yakuza goons, only Kimura has the good sense to take Black seriously — but even he gets creamed by an expensive liquor bottle.
    • White hits one of the Aliens in the face with a bottle to distract its attention from Black.
  • Groin Attack: Black uses this technique when fighting Kimura at the office.
  • Happy Place: White retreats to his vision of the beach when things are tough. Black joins him later in the movie.
  • Heroic BSoD
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: After failing to grow for much of the movie's duration, White's apple seed finally sprouts and blossoms during the end credits, after the brothers are reunited. In the manga, Black finds out about it just before the confrontation with the Minotaur, making him determined to keep his promise to White and refuse to give in to darkness.
  • Idiot Savant: White has the mind of a philosopher and understands people far better than they do themselves.
  • Impairment Shot: Kimura's blurry vision when getting drunk at a bar.
  • Implacable Men: The Aliens can survive inconceivable blunt force trauma.
  • Ironic Echo: Kimura taunts a small-time gangster by introducing himself as, "What you wish you were: a real yakuza." Kimura is stunned when Snake later reverses that same statement.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the Aliens' few weaknesses.
  • Le Parkour: And also plenty of Roof Hopping and free-falling.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: White "protects" Black in this way, even more than Black protects him physically.
  • Louis Cypher: Snake is suggested to be a Satanic figure, from the red suits he wears, to the superhuman strength of his lackeys. Possibly inverted; he makes allusions to doing "God's" work.
  • Made of Evil: The Minotaur is the dark side of the psyche made flesh.
  • Madness Makeover: Black becomes more and more unkempt and deranged looking after being separated from White.
  • Madness Mantra: "Be happy, be happy/Don't worry, don't worry."
  • Magic Realism: The main characters are able to jump over buildings and fly, which is given no explanation whatsoever. The Aliens' origins aren't explained either.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Suzuki's death is made to look like a suicide.
  • Match Cut: There is a fade from Black's face to white's when both are in different places in third act.
  • Meaningful Echo: "All you need is love."
  • Mind Screw: It seems at first that the initial acrobatics and flying is just White's fantasies. Then the flying purple men show up...
  • Morality Chain: White, for Black. When White goes away, Black turns into a violent psychopath.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: White's manic renditions of The Minotaur later in the storyline.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: It's not that type of a movie.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Black and White's cats and Black's raven. Possibly Bond Creatures.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Cats. There's three of them if you count Gramps, but...
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Snake decides Kimura isn't fully on his team and requests that he kill his mentor. The alternative is to come home and find his girlfriend's pregnant stomach slit open.
  • One Last Smoke: Suzuki spits out his cigarette when shot. Black comes across the fallen yakuza boss and sticks it back in his mouth for him.
  • Parental Abandonment: Black and White grew up without their parents. Also the old mentor notes that he had no parents.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Black and his crows.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Suzuki, otherwise known as the Asian Jeff Goldblum.
  • Picture-Perfect Presentation: At one point an aerial shot of Treasure City dissolves into a map of said location at the yakuza's office.
  • Police Are Useless: The cops are hogtied by the yakuza, and utterly overwhelmed by two kids in goggles.
  • P.O.V. Cam: A number of shots are assuming the perspective of a character.
  • The Power of Friendship
  • Production Throwback: Scenes from the "Time Boy" anime from Mind Game, an earlier Studio 4°C production, show up on television in Suzuki's safehouse as he leaves for the last time.
  • The Promise: Black promised White they would save money to catch a flight and live in a house by the sea one day.
  • Promotion to Parent: Black to White, although their status as siblings is unclear.
  • Psychic Link: Implied between the brothers.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Kimura. He's killed in a drive-by before he can skip town and start an honest life.
  • Retro Universe: The aesthetics of the city strongly evokes urban Japan in The '50s and The '60s (with a dash of pan-Asian elements mixed in), complete with period everyday items and vehicles. A minor hint of the years in which the show takes place does surface early on, explaining the aesthetics. Suzuki is depicted reading an astrology book for 1967/Showa 42, implying the storyline unfolds between the summers of 1967 and 1968, yet, there's a scene from an arcade that has games that seem to belong to the 1980s.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The room that is given to White halfway through the movie goes from being full of ordinary drawings to crazy towards the end.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When White is stabbed through the torso, his blood pools around him into a circle. Snake's jacket sports the same red symbol.
  • Sanity Slippage: Black undergoes one without White by his side to balance his dark side out.
  • Satisfied Street Cats: Though they do hope to someday escape Treasure Town.
  • Scars Are Forever: Kimura, after having his ass handed to him by Black. Also, Black has a scar over his left eye and another under his chin, then a third on his hand by the end.