ANN; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
This movie gets kind of trippy, and it can be hard to follow every detail, at times, although at the same time, it's sort of simple. I guess. Basically, it's set in Treasure Town, and the two main characters are a pair of homeless orphans called White and Black. They're sort of a street gang unto themselves (called the Cats), watching over the town, and despite being fairly young, they're obviously quite tough, especially Black. Also, they tend to jump around rooftops and such, like something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, though actually it goes a bit beyond that level. Sometimes it seems like the kids can actually fly, almost. Anyway, White is... well, his mental state is more childlike than his actual age (which is about 11). He definitely seems to be in a state of arrested development, perhaps even with a PDD of some kind. But he also seems to have a sort of sixth sense, precognition, or something. And most of the time, he's quite happy, probably happier than makes sense, in alot of the situations he gets into. Though other times, he can get extremely upset. Black, meanwhile, sees himself not only as the protector of Treasure Town, but also of White. He's sort of the brains and the muscle of the pair, while White is the heart.
Aside from the two of them, it was often hard for me to keep track of the relations between various other characters. A group of Yakuza moved into Treasure Town, though I think maybe they had been there before, and were returning after an absence. I dunno. Anyway, the major one of them seems to be a man named Suzuki, aka "the Rat." He has a group of followers, the most notable being Kimura. However, Suzuki himself actually works for a more powerful Yakuza boss, whose name I don't think I ever caught. And while Suzuki is more sort of old-school, his boss wants to make changes in Treasure Town. He brings in this new business partner, a foreigner called Snake, whose big plan is to tear down a somewhat historical local strip club, and instead build an amusement park. (Doesn't really sound like much of an evil plot, for gangsters, but I guess it would make them more money. Suzuki is not fond of change, however, nor is Black.) Meanwhile, there's also a cop named Fujimura, and his new rookie partner, Sawada. I think Fujimura had a complicated relationship with Suzuki, who is sort of an old enemy of his, but also sort of vaguely a friend, as I suppose longtime rivals could become, as they grow older and begin to get tired of the game. Well, there are some other characters, such as a homeless guy called Gramps, who is friends with White and Black, and pretty much knows everything that's going on around town. And there were some local smalltime gangsters, who the Yakuza had to deal with when they moved into town. I think they were vaguely friends of White and Black, as well. And then there was Kimura's girlfriend (I don't think they were married), who gets pregnant, so... Kimura wants to get out of the business, but it's complicated. He eventually ends up working for Snake, which puts him at odds with Suzuki, who was like a father to him.
Anyway, Snake knows he needs to get rid of the Cats (White and Black), if he truly wants to run Treasure Town, so he sends three large, exceedingly tough assassins (the only adults in the movie who, like the Cats and other street kids, seem almost able to fly) to kill the two of them. (White thinks they're aliens, and he may be right, I'm not really sure. Same goes for Snake, himself.) They manage to defeat the first assassin, after alot of trouble, and things seem to cool off after that. But later on, another one nearly kills White, who ends up getting taken in by Fujimura and Sawada, after he recovers from his wound. But now that Black is alone, he goes kind of crazy, gets more violent than ever in his fight against crime, and whatnot. I should also mention that there have always been rumors of someone incredibly tough called "the Minotaur," though no one really is quite sure if he actualy exists. But after the two remaining assassins once again go after Black, we finally get to see the Minotaur, and... well, the truth is kind of a head trip. We finally learn that White and Black really need each other, but, contrary to Black's assumptions, he actually is, in a certain sense, the one who is being protected by White. (I should also mention that their names are rather symbolic; the whole movie is rather psychological, and the major theme is the battle between light and dark, not merely in society, but within the individual.)
Well... I'm not sure what else to say about the plot. But the animation style is not quite like anything else I've seen, which is definitely refreshing. And also, there are times it changes, when we get glimpses into White's mind, which is more impressionistic, and later into Black's mind, in the climactic scene, which is rather... hallucinatory. Anyway, throughout the the movie, White is hoping that someday he and Black and find a peaceful place for themselves, by the sea, something he's often dreamt of. (It kind of reminds me of George and Lennie from "Of Mice and Men.") Well, I mentioned White's sixth sense earlier; usually, it manifests in an apparent knowledge of things that are happening elsewhere at that moment, usually very bad things. (In this way, he seems to share Black's climactic struggle, even though they're not together, at that point; in fact, I'm not entirely sure he doesn't somehow influence the outcome of that struggle.) But... it might also be an indication that the happy, idyllic dreams which represent his hope for the future, might in their own way be prophetic.
Anyway, yeah. That's all I can think to say. A visually stunning movie, about the struggle between light and dark, but also about relationships, between White and Black, Suzuki and Kimura, and... I dunno. Everyone, really. I guess. Like I said, it was the relations between characters that it was hard to follow, aside from White and Black themselves. And the actual plot... was kind of vague, but really I think it was more a catalyst than anything else, for the psychological journey being taken by these two boys. Very interesting stuff, whether it makes sense or not.