Tekkon Kinkreet (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, October 05, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
What They Say
From the creators of Animatrix comes this visually-stunning new anime film based on a popular Japanese manga written by Taiyo Matsumoto. In Treasure Town, where the moon smiles and young boys can fly, life can be both gentle and brutal. This is never truer than for our heroes, Black and White, two street urchins who watch over the city, doing battle with an array of old-world Yakuza and alien assassins vying to rule the decaying metropolis. Tekkon Kinkreet is a dynamic tale of brotherhood that addresses the faults of present day society, true love lost, and the kindness of the human heart.
A brutal elegy for our changing times as well as a tour-de-force of visual artistry, Tekkon Kinkreet is a deeply resonant story with a heart. The title Tekkonkinkreet is a play on the Japanese words for â€˜concrete,â€™ â€˜iron,â€™ and â€˜muscle,â€™ and it suggests the warring images of steel and concrete cities amassing against the powers of the imagination. Until now, at least in imports abroad, anime style has almost entirely been characterized by wide-eyed heroes, big robots, and uninspired plotting. Tekkon Kinkreet jettisons these stereotypes in favor of a more realistic, European ethos, successfully incorporating engaging child characters and a complex action plot into a poetic, engaging story.
Kuro and Shiro rule Treasure Town until the arrival of a certain Snake that is intent on changing it all.
The film carries through on Sony's standard procedure of providing the original language as the one done in uncompressed form. The 5.1 LPCM track, done at 4.6 mbps, is a real treat as it utilizes all the channels to excellent effect. The music is a strong factor in this as Plaid has provide some solid pieces but the overall sense of placement, directionality and depth is just spot on throughout. The mix has a lot of quiet moments that are well conveyed and the accent sounds are placed properly but when it comes to the big moments it kicks into an overdrive that doesn't overwhelm but enhances all of it perfect. The release has also included a pair of 5.1 tracks done at 640kbps for the Japanese and English mixes which really feel weak in comparison to the uncompressed track.
Originally in theaters in late 2006, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and at a resolution of 1080p. Authored with the AVC codec, this is a stunning piece of work that shows off an incredible amount of detail as well as showcasing the fluidity of the animation. Like many theatrical films, there is a great emphasis on backgrounds in their color design and how busy they look. Tekkonkinkreet is no different as Studio 4C has really gone to town here by creating a rich looking city. The details are almost overwhelming at times because there's so much to see there but it all holds up in a solid manner with no problems. Even better is that the backgrounds – and animation in general – looks to be free of banding issues. The color design, done by colorist Miyuki Ito, is used in a way to remove that problem. It does give some of the character animation moments a bit of an alive look to it, but it's intentional by design and doesn't comes across as noise or artifacting. This is a gorgeous looking transfer that really shines in just about every seen, whether it be detail, color depth or fluidity of animation.
Done in a standard Blu-ray case, the cover art for this is an incredibly busy piece as it features just about the entire cast as well as the massive backdrop of the city itself with all its detail. The look of the animation isn't exactly what's considered traditional anime which may work in its favor for gaining more casual people to look at it that don't care for anime. Overall though, with the lengthy name and the amount of material here, it's almost too much for the eyes to take in quickly. The Animatrix nod certainly won't hurt however. The back cover is standard fare for Sony releases with a blue deign to it and just a few shots from the film surrounded by text. Sony has been tweaking its covers recently however so we do get a solid technical grid that covers the details but the special features are still listed separately and things like runtime, coding and ratings are spread out along the bottom. No insert is included with this release and the reverse side is a blue filtered piece that has artwork on the left side and the usual Blu-ray promotional piece on the right side.
One of the smart (and obvious) things that Sony has finally started to do with their Blu-ray releases in regards to the PS3 is to provide a menu icon for it. No longer do we just see the blue disc there that says BDMV. Now we see a good sized icon with the film name and some artwork associated with it as well as the disc name next to it. Small things like this are just that but it's something that is definitely appealing, especially if you don't remember what disc you had in the player.
The menu design itself is kind of stark but it's done in a really neat way that showcases a lot of clips from the show without feeling like it's stuck in a pattern. Various boxes reorder themselves across the all white menu in a ninety second rotation while the bottom right corner has the navigation strip. They use a great piece of instrumental music for it that builds up nicely with the scenes. They also include a button to turn off the navigation audio. The pop-up menu utilizes only that navigation strip during playback which means it doesn't take up a lot of space. This release is one that features a great looking scene selection menu through which you can see the time codes easily and add, delete or jump to whatever bookmarks you create for it. In terms of reviewing the disc, being able to tag specific scenes and then return to it afterwards on the fly is wonderful.
The extras for this release are pretty extensive though they're wrapped up in just three main features. There's an eleven minute featurette that talks with the director the and members of Plaid in which they talk about the film and the participation of Plaid in it. It's a Japanese extra so there is plenty of Japanese text with translated subtitles (in English, Spanish and Portuguese). The bigger extra is a forty-five minute feature that is a 300 day diary of the director. Arias isn't exactly controversial but it's easy to see him fall into that category among anime fans due to whatever western influences he'll bring to a production. Regardless, this feature goes into great detail about the production of the film and everyone involved in it. Similar can be said of the feature-length commentary track by him in which he's able to be more freeform about the film itself and his experiences with it. Fans of the film will likely find all of these extras interesting on some level but it really depends on how much you're into what it takes to make a film like this.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the short form manga by Taiyō Matsumoto that came out back in the early 90's, Tekkonkinkreet is a fascinating piece of work in how it's come about. There is a slow but continuing shift in how things are being done in the last few years and a project like Animatrix has shown that cross cultural projects can succeed quite well. This film, being based off of a manga, is directed by American Michael Arias and has music by the British duo Plaid. Arias isn't a traditional American director in the sense however as he moved some fifteen years ago to Japan and has married there and had children. So this is less of a cross cultural project in a sense but it is something vastly different. It's quite rare that you see someone make it this far in the business.
Tekkonkinkreet takes place in what is essentially the real world but just ever so slightly skewed in a different way. The film revolves around a part of a city called Treasure Town, a district in which it's essentially run by the Cats. There are varying groups as to be expected that are fighting for control of territory, either through financial or physical means, but the Cats are the ones who currently rule the roost so to speak. They don't do it in an ostentatious way or in a way that most of society notices because the two members are young kids. Kuro and Shiro, or Black and White, have grown up in this place and have really gained some notoriety over their time here. Kuro is the more physical of the two and the more grounded as well while Shiro is somewhat flighty and far too innocent for the world that he lives in. Shiro almost feels disconnected from things at times and if not for Kuro he likely would have been lost ages ago.
The town has changed considerably over the years as we see through the eyes of the Rat, an older yakuza who has finally returned and is setting up shop again per his bosses orders. Easily tagged by the police, a detective duo who in some ways mirror Rat's feelings on the changes in the city, we get to see various aspects of how the town is managed and the kinds of things that go on behind the scenes to keep it all flowing. In a way, Treasure Town has become rather wholesome over the years as well as rather gaudy through hall the chintzy little businesses and shops that populate it. A good portion of the town is still a backwater however and we see a lot of that through the kids eyes as well as what the yakuza members are involved in.
While Kuro and Shiro can handle some of the challenge that come their way, such as the rival pair of kids that show up to take over the town, there are bigger ones that are brought in that make up the real focus of the film. While the yakuza are looking for ways to make money in the wholesome aspect of the town, they bring in a man who has done wonders elsewhere who is called Snake. Using a trio of big ugly thugs as his completely obedient muscle, Snake has plans through which to generate a great deal of revenue for all involved but it requires finishing off the parts of the town that are in ruin. Things that people like Rat and fellow yakuza member Kimura find so attractive about the place. The film plays with the idea of how towns change over time to meet the needs of its citizens while touching on the good and bad of what's lost and how some of the people have to cope with it. Especially in regards to forced change for those that are too poor to be able to do much about their lives themselves.
Tekkonkinkreet doesn't really bring much new to the table here when it comes to story but it is engaging to watch as it plays out. A lot of films tend to go with non traditional styles when it comes to character designs and what we get here has an interesting mix of Japanese and European flavor to it. Characters are almost spindly at times, especially when they have what seem to be razor thin ankles. But there are still plenty of traditional trademark anime styles included as well but it's all just accented in a very stylized manner. The end result is something that is definitely disconcerting at first but fits with the world that these characters live within.
And it is very much a fascinating world. It's easy to stop at any scene, especially an outdoor city scene, and just take in the sheer amount of detail in all of it. So much writing on the walls, things in the shop windows or just the in the building design itself. It's an incredibly rich production with the backgrounds that gives it an incredible amount of life and a real lived-in feeling without being far too dank and dreary. In fact, with it being a wholesome town in a lot of ways, it has a great mix of the dark and rundown with the bright and colorful. Even the bright areas tend to have a bit of wear and tear in them which keeps it from feeling too artificial.
If there is any real complaint with the film it has to center around the translation job for the subtitles. While I won't call this a dubtitle, the scripts are definitely very close. That in itself isn't a problem but what's been done is that the small cultural aspects, such as the characters names and honorific relationships, are smoothed out or just ignored outright. Kuro, Shiro, Rat and Snake all have meanings to their names and it varies at times as to whether it's translated or just kept. Snake for example is actually Hebi which means the same thing. Kuro meaning Black works well, but they vary between translating it as Kuro or Black. It isn't a bad translation per se but it definitely (and is obviously) geared at a mainstream audience instead of those who may be familiar with the language hiccups that are introduced through it.
Tekkonkinkreet is a real aural and visual feast. While it may not be what anime fans have come to expect for a traditional film, the end result is something that while predictable is surprisingly engaging. The mixture of the visuals and the music works exceptionally well as it doesn't feel like a score that panders to the scenes. Everything clicks well throughout and the way it weaves the multiple stories while bringing in some extreme brutality when you least expect it keeps you on your toes. This is a great looking film with beautiful score and the Blu-ray presentation of it is one of the best anime films I've seen on the format yet.
Japanese 5.1 PCM Language,Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 Language,English Dolby Digital 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Subtitles,French Subtitles,Portuguese Subtitles,Conversation with Director Michael Arias and British Rock Band Plaid ,Filmmaker Commentary ,The Making of Tekkon - Director Michael Arias' 300 Day Diary
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Running time: 111
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 1080p
Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
Series: Tekkon Kinkreet