Iíve had a PS3 for a while now, but until recently the only Blu-Ray disc I bought was the (admittedly totally worth every penny) Planet Earth boxset. Sorry Sony, but theyíre just too damn expensive! Why buy the Blu-Ray version for £15 when I can get the DVD for £5? Yes, itís in shiny HD with better audio and all (and it just works better all round, to be honest) but the benefits do not outweigh paying over three times as much for the same film.
So I really donít know what I was thinking when I bought Paprika, Kung Fu Hustle (fantastic film) and Tekkonkinkreet in a 3 for 2 type sale. Well, maybe I just wanted to see some anime in HD because I was fed up with birds and spiders...
Regardless, I seemed to have lucked out because Tekkonkinkreet is an excellent advert for anime in HD. Based on a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and directed by Michael Arias, Tekkonkinkreet tells the story of two kids called Black and White as they defend Treasure Town from rival gangs and yakuza. It may be surprising at first to see two such young kids (one of them is 10, I think) fighting the mob and the living on the streets, but it quickly Black. With a stick.
Black. With a stick.
White is an innocent, playful and excitable kid who often prefers to live in his own fantasies than the real world. Without any kind of parent figure (aside from an old homeless man who gives them advice from time to time), Black acts as his guardian and only friend. Black is older and evidently more streetwise than White, but he carries with it a darker side that he tries his best to hide from White for fear of corrupting him.
Although White isnít entirely oblivious to the violence that keeps the Stray Catís reputation as the toughest gang in town (despite being only two strong and made up entirely of kids...), itís his innocence and naivety that keeps Black from going over the edge. And vice-versa, White would not survive in Treasure Town without Black to protect him.
If you havenít guessed already, thereís a strong yin-yang, black/white, good/evil theme running throughout Tekkonkinkreet. The manga actually pokes fun of this by making it even more obvious with several visual puns, but here in the anime itís a little more subtle. The relationship between Black and White is at the core of Tekkonkinkreet, and with such a likeable, innocent character as White White. With a match.
White. With a match.
Creating problems for Black and White are several secondary characters including yakuza Rat and Kimura and the detectives that are stuck in the middle with little or no power to do anything about it. In all honest these feel slightly underdeveloped thanks to the relatively short running time, and come off as more of a catalyst for Black and White than characters in their own right. That isnít to take anything away from Tekkonkinkreet as I think Michael Arias has done about as well as you could expect condensing a 614-page manga in to a one-and-a-half hour film. Obviously some stuff isnít going to make the cut, but heís done a good job of capturing the essence of the comic and concentrates on all the right areas.
He pays special attention to Treasure Town, for instance. Now, this is where the benefits of Blu-Ray really come in to play. Although the character designs are fairly basic in a stylised kind of way, the backdrops are just stunningly detailed. Colourful, vibrant and eye-catchingly unusual, Treasure Town Black and White. With...nothing.
Black and White. With...nothing.
Still, Treasure Town is a place that I wouldnít mind visiting again. I can imagine some people might take issue with the slightly surreal (and ambiguous) ending, but taken as a whole Tekkonkinkreet is an entertaining, unusual and beautiful piece of animation that should appeal to a wide range of people. Itís certainly one of the best feature length anime to come out of Japan recently, and shows that a transatlantic collaboration neednít dilute the essence that makes anime unique. Now, if only the same could be said of some more high profile series of late...
The Animation flavor of your favorite mainstream title (oh, and one AmeriManga flavor of a favorite Japanese Anime/Manga title). Yeah, weíve seen it all before. Star Trek the Animated Series, X-Men (w...
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