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Tekkon Kinkreet director's notes

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Director’s Notes

screenwriter Anthony Weintraub and director Michael Arias

January 1, 2004

If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

The Gospel of Thomas

Why Tekkonkinkreet?

Why Tekkonkinkreet?

Why Tekkonkinkreet now?

Tekkonkinkreet is primarily a story about the struggle that occurs between (and inside) two street urchins (Black and White), and secondarily about the crisis threatening their world, Treasure Town, a futuristic urban dystopolis fought over by alien gangsters and old-world yakuza. Plenty of Tekkon will appeal to lovers of sci-fi, action, and fantasy-adventure films, Japanese manga, and anime.

But underlying such superficial features, Tekkon is indeed a deeply humanist fable, like Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men or Fellini’s La Strada.

Tekkonkinkreet may seem to some a story of child super-heroes battling evil alien foes... or an animated Fight Club ... or pure fantasy, such as The City Of Lost Children.

But regardless of what surface elements of the film appeal to viewers, Tekkonkinkreet carries a deeper message.

The story of Tekkonkinkreet is taking place around us every day: children losing their parents, siblings separated, families torn apart... betrayal... lost innocence... the death and rebirth of cities... disruptive change everywhere.

Why do we not give in to the chaos, or simply despair at the sight of such entropy? Why continue living when surrounded by such tragedy and evil? What will save us?


Love’s eternal power to heal and redeem is the core theme of Tekkon. Tekkonkinkreet is not a film just for fans of manga and anime. Tekkon will appeal to a much broader spectrum of viewers.

Above all else, I hope viewers of this film will remember the power of love.



Tekkonkinkreet, as the names of its central characters suggests, is a study of contrasts: good versus evil, light/shadow, creation/destruction, love/hate, innocence/guilt, nostalgic/modern, hope/regret, etc. All of the characters and the events of Tekkon embody some aspect of these universal themes, forming a matrix of connections between their opposite poles. One of the key messages of Tekkon is the need for equilibrium in a world composed of these opposing forces.


Tekkon is also a story of brotherhood: A man rejects his brother, choosing greed and destruction over altruism and nurturing. This theme echoes in Black and White’s story as well as that of the aging mob boss Suzuki and his protégé Kimura. In both cases, conflict is resolved by a man’s return to humanity (Black rejects the dark and returns to White; Kimura is likewise saved by returning to Suzuki, if only metaphorically).


Love’s redemptive power is central to the story of Tekkon. Suzuki delivers this message to Kimura early on, and we hear it once again from the other voice of wisdom, Gramps. Both Kimura and Black (perhaps also Sawada of the script) are ultimately redeemed by their love. The (unspoken) moral of Tekkon is that, if allowed to surface, love and good will conquer all evil.


The contrasts I’ve mentioned are implicit in the story of Tekkon, but I intend to make explicit reference to them through the film’s visuals as well. I will use a mixture of cinematic devices—shifts in tone, freeze frames, time lapse, slow motion, voice-over, flashbacks, text elements, and repeated motifs—to create a densely layered film, paralleling and reinforcing the tableau of characters and web of story lines that comprise Tekkon.

Surrealism and Expressive Reality

Rather than adhere to the idea that animation is a distillation of reality, with characters and backgrounds treated consistently from one shot to another, I would like the imagery of Tekkon to shift fluidly between contrasting animation styles that reflect the internal states of its characters. Daylight sequences that focus on Black and White’s life on the Treasure Town streets will be shown as though shot by a child’s instant camera, while scenes of Treasure Town nightlife will be shot in the neo-realistic documentary style typical of the photographs of Daido Moriyama (Shinjuku) or Nobuyoshi Araki (Satchin). White’s dream sequences will be rendered with primitive, childlike forms, while Black’s nightmarish visions will look like something from the work of Francis Bacon or Horst Janssen.

Up to what degree of distortion does an individual still remain himself? For how long does a cherished face, growing remote through illness, madness, hatred, and death, still remain recognizable? Where lies the border between which a self ceases to be a self?

Milan Kundera on Francis Bacon

Hand-held Camera

Using tried-and-true animation techniques would, I think, do Tekkon a disservice and, in the worst case, might doom it to irrelevance as a violent fairy tale or superficial adventure. I will favor a documentary-style handheld camera over the perfect compositions that anchor most traditional animation. “Improvisational” camera work will ground the story in reality and serve as a key expressive tool, ideal for showing the rough edges of life on the streets of Treasure Town. As with the wonderful City Of God and the films of Wong Kar Wei (shot by the brilliant Christopher Doyle) or Cassavetes, our characters should be bursting from the frame, and its locations either flooded with light or blanketed by shadows. Extensive use of handheld as well as standard moving (3D) camera is both an artistic and a technical challenge but it is central to my directing strategy for this film, and will be key to setting Tekkon apart from all other anime.


White’s imagined worlds are a recurring motif in Tekkon, and they are the chief expression of White’s creative essence. White’s imagination shows us—and Black—a path out of the darkness. White’s visions will be drawn in vivid colors not seen on the streets of Treasure Town, with an innocent, whimsical line, like a child’s drawings. Black’s descent into the Minotaur’s hell, a world without light, where the only truth is that of ultimate death, will progress from a barren landscape of solitude to a phantasmagoric roller coaster ride down to the depths of pure evil—feverish paranoid hallucinations that only White’s love can rescue Black from.

Treasure Town

Seen through Black and White’s eyes, Treasure Town is at times a rosy-colored playground, at times a shadowy labyrinth. Treasure Town has elements of both the fantastic streets of City Of Lost Children, and the earthbound slum of Kurosawa’s Dodes Kaden. But like both of those imaginary cities, Treasure Town must be entirely believable in its unreality. As Tekkon unfolds, we will see that Treasure Town is a living organism, with Black as its soul, and White as its conscience. The old Treasure Town, with its teeming humanity, must exert a warm nostalgic pull on us, if we are to truly sympathize with the boys’ dread as Snake’s Kiddie Kastle casts its sinister shadow on the old shops and alleys.

Voice Over

Voice-over is a powerful tool, useful both to distance but also to add a poetic timbre to the action. A great deal of Tekkon is philosophical or ruminative, especially with characters like White, Fujimura, Suzuki, and Gramps, who find themselves “outside the action”. Like director Terence Mallick (Badlands, Days Of Heaven, The Thin Red Line), I will interweave voice-over monologues of many characters with parallel or contrasting visuals.

Graphic Design

Taiyō’s original uses text and graphic elements to great effect—like voice-over in a film, as a signpost or for distancing effect. Use of the technique in the film will have a similar purpose as well as uniting the film and manga forms of the story. Text will be used for separation, such as when time changes (“Night”, “Day”), when a character is introduced, or to bracket a particular dramatic segment (“A Night in the Life of the Rat”). If possible, I would like Taiyō himself to design these graphic elements, as well as all of White’s drawings in the police station.

Freeze Frame

Freeze frames, like the aforementioned graphic design elements, will be used on a limited basis for dramatic effect. Specifically, when each of the major characters is introduced, their image will freeze after a particularly distinctive defining moment, and text will appear on the screen. This appears in the manga and has also been used to great effect in films like Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Goodfellas, and Fukasaku Kinji’s popular Jingi series.

Repeated Motifs

The development of certain visual motifs or themes is essential to the style of the piece. Several exist in the manga: White’s dream of the ocean paradise, Black’s visions of the Minotaur, etc.


Music will be a very important aspect of Tekkonkinkreet, serving not only to add weight to exposition and momentum to action, but also as counterpoint to the larger themes of the film.

In the beginning, the music should have an analog, old-world feel, to complement the nostalgic ambience of the Treasure Town we see in the opening scenes: the yakuza underworld, the street urchins’ hand-to-mouth existence, the multi-ethnic/multi-cultural potpourri of Treasure Town’s streets and various factions and tribes. A mixture of traditional (tango, Hawaiian steel guitar, Japanese nostalgia) and ethnic (Indian classical, Balinese gamelan) sounds should form the backdrop of the first act.

As we move into the second act—Snake’s act—old world analog will give way to newer, alien, synthetic forms: minimalist breakbeats and dissonant post-techno sounds. When the action picks up and we descend into White and Black’s respective madness, the music will turn towards ethnic trance elements to drive us forward.

As the film’s various conflicts are resolved, and balance between opposing forces achieved, an altogether new type of music—a soothing and harmonious hybrid combining elements of the old and the new forms—will take over. This music will echo fragments heard over White’s dreams of ocean paradise and apple trees.


My instinct is to avoid professional voice actors (a staple of the Japanese animation industry) and instead cast either film or theater actors for major roles of this ensemble. Perhaps for child roles amateurs may be desirable. This will necessitate an arduous casting process as well as extensive rehearsal, particularly for parts played by non-actors. At any rate, I want performances to be as “naturalistic” as possible, without the clichéd staginess so common in animated films.


One of the greatest challenges to filming Tekkonkinkreet is to establish the essential character relationships and dynamics early and build to a climax that resolves itself by the end, without rushing the story. One interesting point to mention is that manga author Taiyō Matsumoto had planned a much longer comic until editorial decisions forced him to end the story prematurely. So, in fact, if I am to do justice to Taiyō’s original intentions, I will have to find ways to tell a story even longer and more complex than that of the manga! To this end, Anthony Weintraub, with his script for Tekkon, has succeeded admirably in contracting the _manga_’s story while preserving its essential nuances and arcs, a significant challenge given the original’s large cast of characters and multi-layered story.

I’ve subdivided the story into three parts, corresponding to a classical three-act structure.

Part 1

In the first act, I plan to build slowly, establishing the natural rhythms of Treasure Town and defining the relationships between characters and within hierarchies of characters (yakuza, police, etc.). I will also gradually widen the rift between Black and White and define their opposing natures (this is one area where our script departs from the original). The first act climaxes with Black and Kimura’s confrontation, and ends with Snake’s seduction of Kimura. These events signal major shifts in both the primary story (Black and White’s drama) and the secondary story (the yakuza and Snake wrangling over Kimura’s soul and the future of Treasure Town). We end with the yakuza boss’ toast “to new beginnings!”

Part 2

By the second act all the story’s main threads have been set in motion, and we start to see further development. Kimura’s disloyalty to Suzuki and impending fatherhood are explored. Snake’s true ambition—to rule the world—is revealed. Suzuki and Fujimura move from being passive observers to active participants. Black’s hunger for violence (embodied by the Minotaur) escalates as does White’s semi-autistic mania. The second act builds to a climax with the assassins hunting Black and White and ends with White’s stabbing.

Part 3

The third act focuses primarily on Black and White’s internal battles. Separated from White, Black must face the Minotaur pulling at him from inside. As Black’s destructive impulse rises to a crescendo, White is beset by demons within. Only White’s love of Black brings him back to the surface, from where he is able to guide Black towards the light, and away from the Minotaur and darkness. Kimura and Suzuki’s story similarly resolves itself—Kimura following Snake into the darkness until, only after killing his mentor, he realizes his mistake and turns back, towards the light, redeemed by his love for his unborn child.

The film ends with White and Black reunited, and escaping to their place in the sun. This ending, should be joyful but, at the same time, ambiguous: we’ve known all along that White’s ocean paradise may not actually exist, and that Black and White’s reality is just one warm sphere contained within a colder, crueler (natural) universe. Ultimately Black and White’s real “place in the sun” is not the white sandy beaches of postcards, but their state of togetherness. The film as a whole will walk the line between subjective surreality and hard reality.


Like its themes, the major characters in Tekkon consist of a series of pairs, each also a study in contrasts. The arc of each character rests on that of the other (and this movement is itself a metaphor for the themes in the story).

Black and White

Black and White are at the core of the action. Metaphorically, Black and White represent the two sides of the psyche, the dark and the light. White is the playful, nurturing Vishnu (the preserver) to Black’s self-centered all-annihilating Shiva (the destroyer). Symbiotic to the last, Black and White love each other as brothers but, more significantly, they cannot live without each other. They need each other to survive, and each is the other’s salvation.


Snake and Kimura form a secondary contrasting pair to that of Suzuki and Kimura. Snake and Kimura’s intersection depicts the layers of evil that exist in humanity. Snake represents a primordial (reptilian) force that lies beyond simple distinctions like good and evil. He makes no excuses and shows no regret. Instead of a limiting and perhaps morally responsible system of laws such as the yakuza’s, Snake’s code comes from a higher source, none other than God (or Satan, or perhaps nature itself).

Suzuki and Kimura

Suzuki and Kimura represent the ultimate father-son dynamic, the old versus the new. Though ostensibly violent, Suzuki maintains a respect for a balanced system of laws and justice. His world, that of The Yakuza, is morally questionable, but it remains respectful to larger principles of right and wrong. Suzuki’s way is the “old way”, and with the old way comes a certain respect for continuity.

Kimura is the new force of violence and impulsive action, uncomprehending of the old ways. He is unwilling to respect the natural progression of things, instead always wanting to accelerate, to win. Kimura respects Suzuki but, selfish and prideful, takes the easier path. Kimura loses his innocence by killing Suzuki and then, only after crossing that line, does he realize that love for his girlfriend Akutsu and their unborn child is more powerful than Snake’s evil. One of the beautiful ironies of Tekkon is that Kimura has his revelation after it is already too late.

Fujimura and Sawada

In a lawless land, Fujimura and Sawada have the thankless task of being the law. As with the other pairings, Fujimura and Sawada illustrate contrasting natures. Like Suzuki and Kimura, they are the older and younger archetypes of their respective organizations. Fujimura, like Suzuki, is weathered, cynical, and knows all the angles. Sawada is a green and guileless rookie, emotional and unable to distinguish right from wrong. Sawada, like Black and Kimura, makes the mistake of thinking that violence is cool (even to the point of using Dirty Harry as a model).


Gramps is the elder statesman of the piece, the philosopher king, the dispenser of wisdom, and for that reason he resists an easy alignment with the central oppositions. There is the distancing quality of the soothsayer or Greek chorus in Gramps’ voice.






あなた 内にあるも を引き出さなけれ 、あなた 内にある も にあなた 破壊されるだろう。



何故「鉄コン筋クリート」を? 何故今こそ「鉄コン筋クリート」を?

「鉄コン筋クリート」はアジアのどこかの近未来的なメトロポリスが舞台です。飛ぶ子供、派手なチェース・シーン、戦いなど、非常に魅力的なエレメントを持っているストーリーです。これらの要素は「S.F.アクション」もしくは「ファンタジー・アドベンチャー」として充分にアピールする力を持っています。 さらに、作品の根幹にはスタインベックの「人間とねずみ」や、フェリーニ監督の「道」のような人間主義にあふれたマインドが流れており、普遍的な作品になる要素を備えています。 愛、絆、バランスの必要性、無邪気の損失など、これら、永遠なテーマが見る人の心に届くことでしょう。 さらに、この漫画について一つ特筆すべき点は、編集部の決定により、大洋氏が当初の予定より早く完結することを余儀なくされた、ということです。 したがって、大洋氏と何度も語り合い、本来氏が描こうとした更なる深遠な部分を見つめなおしました。結果、氏の意図を十分に汲み取り、漫画よりも、さらに重厚で、ストレートで理解しやすい映画にできると考えています。 もともとの原作からして、登場人物の多さやストーリーの多層性を考えると、尚更難しい仕事ではありましたが、脚本家、アンソニー・ワイントラーブは、原作の持つ本質的なニュアンスおよび曲線を維持しつつ、よりエンターテイメントに仕上げてくれました。
























— ミラン・クンデラ - フランシス・ベーコンについて






シロが想像する世界は、「鉄コン筋クリート」に繰り返し現れるモチーフであり、シロの創造力を示すのに大きな役割を担っています。シロの想像力は、我々に - そしてクロにも - 暗闇から脱出する道を示しています。シロのビジョンは、宝町の町並みにはない鮮やかな色を使い、無邪気で気まぐれな線で描かれた子どもの絵のような感じにします。 光のない世界、そして唯一の真実は究極の死のみという“イタチ”の地獄へとクロが落ちていく過程は、人里離れた不毛な風景から始まり、ジェットコースターのように次々と移り変わる幻影を経て、純然たる悪の深みへ至ります。そこは、不安定な被害妄想的幻覚の世界であり、そこからクロを救い出せるのはシロの愛だけです。












これから制作される「手書き」アニメーション作品のほとんどはデジタル手法を全面的に活用して作られる。「鉄コン」ももちろんその内のひとつの作品になる。デジタル・ペイント、コンポジット時の画面処理、そしてToon Shaderによる「3D作画」、なども含めてさまざまなデジタルツールを頼りにしなければ自分達が目指している「鉄コン」は作られないと思う。




Toon Shaderによる「3D作画」で乗り物や奥にあるキャラを自由に使う。それを手書きの部分とキッチンと統一させる。








第二部、すなわち蛇の部に入ると、昔のアナログ音楽から一転して、異質でシンセティックな、より新しい音楽 - ミニマル・ブレイクビーツと不協和音からなるポスト・テクノになります。そしてアクションが激化し、シロとクロそれぞれの狂気の世界に入ると、音楽はさらにエスニック・トランス的なものに変わり、ストーリーを先へと押し進めます。

さまざまな争いが解決し、相対する勢力の間にバランスが保たれると、まったく新しいタイプの音楽 - 古いものと新しいものの要素を併せ持ち調和のとれた心和む音楽になります。この音楽は、シロが夢見る海辺のパラダイスやりんごの木の映像のときに聞こえていた断片的なメロディーの繰り返しでもあります。


「鉄コン筋クリート」では、プロの声優の起用(日本のアニメ業界では主流となっているが)を避け、映画や舞台俳優をメインのキャラクターに配するべきだと私は感じています。子供の役にはアマチュアが望ましいかもしれません。そのためには、根気強くキャスティングをすることに加え、リハーサルに多くの時間を割く - 役者以外の人々が担当する役については特に -必要があります。いずれにしても、アニメーション映画にありがちな芝居がかったものでなく、できる限り“自然な”パフォーマンスを私は望んでいます。






第二部では、すでに繰り出されたストーリーの糸がさらなる展開を見せます。木村に関しては、鈴木を裏切り、父親になる心境が掘り下げられます。また、蛇の真の野望 - 世界を支配するという野望 - が明らかになります。鈴木と藤村は、それまでの観察者という受身の立場から能動的な参加者になります。クロの暴力を求める気持ち(イタチに象徴されている)が大きくなり、シロの半自閉的な傾向も深まります。第二部は、殺し屋がクロとシロを追い詰めていくのにしたがってクライマックスに至り、シロが刺されるところで終わります。