PictureBeamed at 2.35:1 and encoded at 1080P using the MPEG4 coding system, the picture quality on this Blu-ray disc is never short of breathtaking.
The amount of detail in each and every frame is immense. Backgrounds never fade or blur and foregrounds are incredibly clear. Treasure Town is shown for what it is - a figment of somebody's imagination. Every wall has some kind of décor or graffiti plastered over it - some in English - and it is a real joy to watch.
The colour palette is enormous and there's not an ounce of colour bleed anywhere. There are some visible brush strokes in a few scenes, such is the detail on offer. Grain and digital artefacts are only noticeable by their absence and the painted flesh tones are spot on. But...the film makers have played a very clever trick...
There seems to be a complete absence of true black throughout the whole film in all but the character outlines. There are plenty of very dark greys though. The absence of true black really shows itself in the night scenes. The black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are the blackest thing on screen during nights scenes. To be honest, it's a little off putting if you know what you are looking for. I dare say some folk won't even notice it though...however, it does make everything visible but somewhat un-natural.
All in all, a very commendable effort from the studio. I can see this disc being played in all the high street retail outlets to show off the Blu-ray format just as they did with A Bugs Life when standard definition DVD really took off all those years ago.
SoundOn offer from the sound department at Sony, we have three tracks. Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and Japanese and a lossless PCM 5.1 track in the movies native Japanese.
I have one rule when it comes to watching foreign language movies - watch them in their native language. The reason behind this is an emotional one - not my emotions, but the actors. There's nothing worse than watching a submarine commander sweating, depth charges falling all around him, fear etched on his face and his voice coming out with a broad cockney accent. The voice just doesn't match the scene and it spoils it for me. Surely the same rule should apply to animation, shouldn't it...?
Well yes and no really. This kind of animation should of course be watched in it's proper language. And to prove this, we have the lossless track in Japanese only - with English subs. The soundtrack is loud, dynamic and very open. Treasure City comes alive in all it's ambience during the busy scenes. When the action kicks in, the soundtrack becomes very detailed indeed. Some of the fights in the film are pretty violent - and the lossless PCM track matches it one for one.
However, I watched the film twice - the second time in English. And, for once, I enjoyed the English track more than the native one. My reason behind it is this - and it goes back to the picture quality. There's just so much detail on show, I found I could take more in while having not to read the subtitles - and yes, I am ashamed of myself...the good news is, that while not as dynamic, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is no slouch either. The American voice actors are spot on and, at times, the lip sync seems to be in English. Anime purists will hate me for this, but to really take the film in, if you can't speak fluent Japanese, then the English track is the one that comes recommended by me...
ExtrasFirst up on the extras side of things is The Making Of Tekkonkinkreet: Director Michael Arias 300 day diary. This is a documentary showing all the stages of making the movie in pre and post production. It's not bad - but Michael Arias seems a little uncomfortable being in front of the camera and never looks us in the eye, so to speak. We do find out, however, that the studio totally run out of money and the film was only finished due to a last minute cash injection. I wasn't an easy ride and the director did very well to stick it out.
Next up is A conversation with director Michael Arias and British music duo Plaid. This is a ten minute vignette with the three guys talking about the music in the film. Musicians seem to find it very hard to look good on camera, and this London duo, along with the director, seem to have it down to a fine art. It's totally un-rehearsed so pretty fresh - but at times, cringe worthy...
Finally, we have a filmmakers commentary which covers everything in the 300 day diary piece, therefore making it pretty obsolete.
Not very strong in the extras department then, they are also let down by the fact that box states that they are in High Definition, when in fact they are in 4.3 Standard Definition.
VerdictTekkonkinkreet can truly be considered a masterpiece on the animation front. As a film, I found it confusing at times. The more I watched it and thought it, the more confused I became - so I just gave up.
As a Blu-ray set, the picture and sound quality are both first class. The Japanese LPCM 5.1 track in particular is a master class in sound mixing. Having to read the subtitles though is what made the whole thing a little confusing. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 track is no slouch and makes watching the film an easier experience - for us native English speakers anyway.
The extra's let the side a little. The interview with the bans is boring if I'm honest - as is the commentary. The documentary would have been so much better had the director hired someone with a personality to stand in for him.
I've no doubt that this disc will be at the top of every anime fans Blu-ray shopping list. Everybody else could buy and use the picture to demo the system as I don't think it will have much re-run appeal to non anime fans.
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