A dazzling anime fantasy, "Tekkonkinkreet" is an anime film directed by American Michael Arias and written by Anthony Weintraub ("The Animatrix") and based upon the manga by Taiyo Matsumoto. The film takes place in Treasure Town, a stunning Japanese landscape that is really one of the most remarkable aspects of the movie. Viewers can see far into the distance as the camera runs (and flies) through the city with the characters, and even buildings far in the distance seem to have been crafted with the same skill and consideration as the buildings that the characters are passing in front of. The movie is one of the more amazing displays of animation I've seen in a long time, and I was consistently stunned by not only the detail, but the imagination that seems to have gone into the character and background design, as well as the visual style.
The story follows Black (Kazunari Ninomiya) and White (Yu Aoi), two orphans living in the streets, who do battle with other gangs and aliens throughout the story. Black is the older child who remains fiercely protective of White, the younger of the two. Early in the film, the city becomes concerned at the return of the world-weary gangster "Nezumi" (Min Tanaka) and his hot-tempered young underling Kimura (Yusuke Iseya).
When Black gives a beating to Kimura, he becomes furious and meets "Snake", another criminal who may not be "local" and whose plans include tearing down the town that Black and White have grown up in in order to make way for an amusement park. He believes that the two children are in the way and orders a trio of his henchmen after the two orphans.
"Tekkonkinkreet" is an animated film that has incredible freedom of movement, with fast, yet graceful, camera moves through the urban jungle the characters live in. However, the story seems a little overlong at 111 minutes, and taking out a good 10-15 minutes could have upped the pacing a bit. It's not that the story isn't interesting, it's simply that the film seems a little padded at times. Still, the often breathtakingly beautiful anime is never dull, and always a feast for the eyes.
VIDEO: "Tekkonkinkreet" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This is a delightful presentation of a gorgeous movie. The film's animated cityscapes look impressively detailed and the sharp, crisp presentation does justice to the film's remarkable visuals. While a few instances of slight artifacting were spotted, the majority of the film remained clean and clear, with no edge enhancement, print flaws or other concerns. The film's color palette was also presented beautifully, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Tekkonkinkreet" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English subtitles; English dubbed, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish language tracks). The film's soundtrack is a wonderful example of engaging sound design, as the surrounds are superbly used in order to bring the viewer into the midst of the action, as the rear speakers deliver a wide variety of effects and detailed ambience. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: A commentary from Michael Arias (director), Anthony Weintraub (writer) and Mitch Osias (sound designer) is included. We also get a conversation with the director and Brit music duo Plaid, as well as the nearly 45-minute, "Making of" documentary, titled: "Michael Arias' 300-Day Diary".
Final Thoughts: "Tekkonkinkreet" offers rich, deeply imaginative and wildly detailed animated characters and environments, as well as an interesting tale. While the film could have benefitted from a bit of trimming, it is still a must for anime fans. The DVD offers excellent audio/video quality and a few solid extra features. Note: the film is rated R and not for children.
The Film B+