Tekkonkinkreet, Blu-ray (2006)

by | Oct 1, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Tekkonkinkreet, Blu-ray (2006)

Anime feature directed by Michael Arias
Studio: Aniplex/Sony Pictures 19522
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: Japanese PCM 5.1 uncompressed, English DD 5.1, Japanese DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, French
Extras: The Making of Tekkonkinkreet, Director’s 300-Day Diary, Conversation between Michael Arias and music duo Plaid, Filmmaker’s commentary track
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: ****

This is the first Japanese anime feature to be directed in Japan by an American. Michael Arias had been working in animation there for many years, and the Aniplex Studio of which he was part produced the very creative series of animated shorts inspired by the feature series The Matrix – titled Animatrix.  The anime is based on a very popular in Japan manga (graphic novel) series titled Black & White.

Black and White are two little street urchins with kung fu abilities and a seeming disregard for gravity.  They live in an abandoned car under a freeway in Treasure Town, an eye-shaped island in the middle of a fantasy Tokyo.  The decaying area is being eyed by some of the Yakuza and developers to transform into a high-rent district.  Black, the older of the two urchins, tries to single-handedly fight the Yakuza and to protect the seemingly developmentally-challenged White. A couple of the Yakuza help Black and White. But then the worst Yakuza villian brings in alien/robot killers that prove an almost insurmountable challenge.

The film’s title is a Japanese/English conflation of words like “technological” and “concrete.”  Its story is a unique mix of typical anime sci-fi elements together with a touching story of the relationship of the two urchins. The complex environment of Treasure Town provides a background to the action of the main characters. Director Arias took photos of various Tokyo neighborhoods for years in advance to get ideas for details in the backgrounds. The two featurettes tell a detailed story of the making of the film, at a risk of being somewhat boring in portions. They do show the tremendous work by so many people that goes into doing an anime feature.  Both featurettes are also in hi-def; most extras so far on Blu-ray are not.  The transfer appears perfect, with amazing details in the smallest element of the town backgrounds.  Of course nearly all animated features seem to look even better on DVD than live action cinematography. Aime fans will wig out over this one!

 – John Sunier

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