DVD Review HTF DVD Review: Tekkonkinkreet (Recommended)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Sep 24, 2007.

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  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Tekkonkinkreet

    Release Date: September 25, 2007
    Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc DVD keepcase with cardstock slip cover
    Year: 2007
    Rating: R
    Running Time: 1h51m
    Video (Feature): 2.35:1 anamorphic
    Audio (Feature): Dolby Digital 5.1: English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese
    Video (Special Features): 1.33:1 standard
    Audio (Special Features): Stereo
    Subtitles/Captioning: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French
    MSRP: $26.96

    The Feature: 4/5
    Peering out from the center of a great metropolis is the eye-shaped island of the Treasure Town District. Though its citizens have few positive things to say about it, they are also protective - despite everything it's still their home. No one is more possessive than Black, the eldest of a pair of street urchins, who appoints himself the city's guardian when signs of Yakuza infiltration begin. His comrade, White, is still a child in both behavior and concerns, so Black goes on his own to confront the mob henchman during their first significant bid for control. He is surprisingly successful and so shocking in his brutality that it's clear there is more to him than his immature stature suggests. And this makes him and White targets as the mob begins to craft its plans.

    The Yakuza's ultimate vision for the region is at first glance rather pedestrian, but upon reflection a rather pointed statement about gentrification and the sanitizing of urban areas considered unseemly. Though the last word in the argument is equally pointed, the film's overriding messages are about friendship and one's home, frankly presented as things that can both hurt and heal. Based on a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, "Tekkonkinkreet" (a made-up name adapted from the Japanese words for "reinforced concrete") was directed by Michael Arias and is the first feature length anime film to be directed by an American. Like its source material, the production eschews the Bambi-eyed character design that typifies the genre while retaining the mature themes and deeply enigmatic messages that are found in its best works. Though the most challenging scene in the film's climax is easily deciphered, this is preferable to the lingering befuddlement caused by many of its peers. The overall animation style is also quite refreshing, reminiscent of children's picture book illustrations with its muted tones and deeply detailed canvases. Pleasing to both the eye and the heart, "Tekkonkinkreet" is a worthy yet accessible entry in the anime genre.


    Video Quality: 4.5/5
    The film is correctly framed at 2.35:1 and free of edge halos, dust, dirt and print damage. The muted color palette creates a generally low contrast image throughout; even the nighttime drawings tend to be rather bright, making black level evaluation a challenge. Nevertheless, the animation is quite beautiful and often breathtaking in its detail, which the transfer presents very well.


    Audio Quality: 5/5
    The Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Japanese audio options are deeply immersive mixes, with abundant and nicely balanced environmental and directional effects and support for the percussive and expressive soundtrack. Bass and low frequency effects are robust and satisfying.

    Though I found the Japanese track with English subtitles the preferable way to experience the film, the voice acting on the English audio track was quite good, in case anyone struggles with subtitling as a rule.


    Special Features: 4/5

    Audio Commentary with Director Michael Arias, Screenwriter Anthony Weintraub and Sound Designer Mitch Osias: The trio provide a detailed and thorough commentary about the production, describing the animated film's challenges and triumphs. While the subsequent documentary is more technically detailed, it's interesting to hear first-hand anecdotes about the production process.

    A Conversation with Director Michael Arias and British Music Duo Plaid (11m37s): Arias and Plaid talk about the film's music and how the band was chosen to score the film.

    The Making of Tekkonkinkreet - Michael Arias' 300-Day Diary (43m19s): The making-of documentary is an excellent look at the film's year-long animation process, covering the core production departments of character animation, background illustration, and CGI; the sound design by Osias; and Arias overall vision and inspiration for the film. Particular challenges are also highlighted, giving viewers a real sense of the enormousness of the endeavor. It also serves as a nice visual companion to the audio commentary. In Japanese with English subtitles.

    Previews: "Coming to Blu-Ray," "Paprika," "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children," "Memories," "Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis," "Tokyo Godfathers," "Steamboy," and "Storm Hawks."


    Recap

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 4.5/5
    Audio Quality: 5/5
    Special Features: 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

    Accessible anime gets excellent audio and video transfers and a thorough look at the animation process in the special features package. Recommended.
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Cameron:

    I know nothing about anime...except that I see more and more of it on the DVD shelves at my local retailers. I had NEVER even heard of this film before I began to compile this week's Weekly RoundUp. But the unusual title caught my eye and I did a SMALL amount of research to see what it was.

    Well, I started seeing some pretty amazing artwork and even used the following image to feature the film in the RoundUp:

    [​IMG]

    That is quite a striking visual.

    Based on the fact I've never seen anything anime, would you recommend this to me? I'm not sure there's any reason for me to give it a try...except for an extreme curiosity based on my complete ignorance. And, that compelling image I've posted.

    BTW, I'm a big fan of Disney animated features.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Hey Mike. I saw you used that image in Weekly Roundup and figured you knew more than I. [​IMG]

    I hadn't heard a thing about the film, but saw it being promoted at Comic-Con.

    The film is definitely a cut above most of what you see on store shelves. Exploring anime is not unlike exploring martial arts films - there's an awful lot of crap to wade through, but when you find a film that gets it right it makes you want more. Tekkonkinkreet could be that for a lot of people - it's definitely beautiful and I think it's more accessible for first time anime viewers compared to others. But knowing that people in general need to warm up to anime, I would probably recommend a rental first.

    From a novice's standpoint I think the most challenging piece about some anime is that sometimes the narrative structure is too loose for Western sensibilities. And then there is the frequent incorporation of complex philosophical and metaphysical ideas, which is interesting but if it goes too far you're just going, "huh?" at the end. If you're used to Disney films you're going to have a bit of culture shock - besides the heady ideas, some anime titles have pretty brutal violence and sexuality, so be prepared for that despite how cute some of the characters may look.
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I thought your description of the plot harkened to some of the problems when NYC & Disney teamed up to clean up Times Square. There were many complaints back then about "changing the neighborhood"--even if it was "for the better." The description is a little confusing to me (Yakuza?) [​IMG]

    I will probably pursue a rental sometime (it's been a long time since I rented anywhere!).

    Is the animation hand-drawn?
     
  5. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The animation is hand drawn - and certain pieces were handed off to a master illustrator specifically - but CGI is employed for certain effects and "camera" movement. Some of the moves are obvious in their extreme fluidity. I know this bothers some people but I think it's kind of cool.
     
  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I'm slated to review the BluRay, looking forward to it now!
     
  7. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    AICN has been pushing this one for a while. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

    Jason
     

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