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'Tekkonkinkreet'

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Tekkonkinkreet
Directed by Michael Arias
April 25 through 30, MOMA

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The word "tekkonkinkreet" is a punning mishmash of the Japanese terms for "iron," "concrete," and "muscles," which goes a long way toward explaining what's wrong with the anime feature Tekkonkinkreet: It's both too cute and too rambling. Director Michael Arias manages to translate the visual quirks of Taiyo Matsumoto's serial manga to the screen—the animation here is fluent and graceful—but he just can't seem to stop himself from cramming episode after episode into a non-episodic medium. We get endless scenes of death and regeneration, mostly centering around Black and White, two street urchins who either are or act like brothers. Black is a teenager with visions of grandeur—he has already cast himself as a comic book hero—while White still looks like a boy and seems even younger. He is supposed to be something of an idiot savant, an icon of innocence, but his maniacal giggle gets old fast. These vigilantes-in-training are waging war against mobsters who want to build an amusement park in the ancient heart of their beloved city, Treasure Town. This metropolis, a sprawling, gorgeous mess, is the film's saving grace: Like many classic superhero cycles, Tekkonkinkreet harnesses the dramatic power of the decaying city to spectacular effect.

 
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