Sony // 2006 // 111 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // January 12th, 2008
An American transplant living in Japan brings a unique contribution to the anime genre.
Among the other films that Sony has been releasing in the Blu-ray catalog include an incrementally growing handful of titles from the anime genre. And Tekkonkinkreet is another one of those titles. Is it worth cheery women and mystical animals that the genre seems to be noted for?
Anthony Weintraub adapted the Manga "Black & White" into a screenplay that Michael Arias (The Animatrix) directed. In the film, Black and White isn't a style choice, it's a couple of kids named Black and White who are the de facto guardians of Treasure Town. Things get hairy when some criminal masterminds come to town and try to transform its idyllic setting into something a little more down and dirty, money wise, taste wise and other wise.
I said it before in Paprika and I'll say it again, anime continues to be a tough film genre for me to get into. Whether it's the overall animation style or the seizure inducing techno music, things just don't really do it for me. Am I used to the overall American animation style on The Simpsons after so many years? Sure, I'd cop to that, but I'm starting to warm up to anime a little bit, but I'm not going to do any independent learning in the near future.
At least for Tekkonkinkreet, what it has going for it in my mind is what's kept me away from similar films. The animation appears to be a mix of hand drawn footage combined with the gentle hand of a computer on some of the tougher graphic sequences or scenes that would be tough even in live action films, like winding, 360 degree shots that go through Treasure Town and make you feel like you're one of the birds. It's really good stuff. That technique helps the viewer get into the minds of Black and White, and lets them escape with the kids. If there was something that I wasn't too thrilled about, it's that it was TOO anime, for lack of a better phrase. The storyline was fine, but its elements seemed to distract from a decent film that could have been made better if there wasn't so many floating ninjas or samurais flying around. That last part might have been made up on my part.
For what it's worth, the 2.35:1 MPEG-4 encoded presentation gives the film an added appreciation. With my limited anime experience, this Blu-ray version possesses some vivid color and even a little bit of depth in the image, and blacks look good without a lot of compression artifacts. The PCM soundtrack is surprisingly weak though, as dialogue is existent but barely audible at times and there's no real surround effecting or subwoofer activity to speak of. It's moderately disappointing.
The extras on this disc appear to be duplicates from the standard definition version. A commentary with Arias, Weintraub and sound designer Mitch Osias is the first thing on the disc. The trio is very soft spoken though they bring quite a bit of information with them, like Osias' ideas for capturing some of the sound used in the film, Weintraub's ideas for the stories and some of the shot breakdowns of the film, and any challenges during animation and the production itself. Fans of the film will definitely benefit from listening to the track. From there, you've got a ten minute interview with Arias and the British duo Plaid, who talk about what they wanted to accomplish in the film's soundtrack. The questions are barely audible and use Japanese subtitles, but you can get a good idea of what was asked. A production diary with Arias is the only other piece on the disc, filmed presumably for a Japanese show of some sort.
If there's top notch talent out there willing to write a convincing story, using anime to help tell it and illustrate the reasons for it being so beloved and adored, they'd probably rack up a ton of cash. For the novice, this film is a tough thing to get into and you should probably look elsewhere before taking on material like this.
Tekkonkinkreet blends some more conventional, even American-style animation with some traditional characters and storylines in Japanese Manga and makes for a semi-palatable and entertaining experience. Fans of the film will like how this looks on video if they already have the standard definition disc, and if you like anime, that might be enough to upgrade.
The filmmakers are not guilty for the crimes. Move on to the next case.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Production Journal
* Plaid Interview
* Official Site
* Original Verdict Review