Part of the Barbican’s current film and music season, British electronic duo Plaid performed their score to the award winning animé Tekkonkinkreet directed by Michael Arias. The 2006 film based on Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga series is said to be visually inspired by Brazilian classic City of God and the favela parallels are evident as you’re transported to the fictional city of Takaramachi.
The film outlines the story of two street urchins, tellingly called Black and White, who encounter and do battle with mobsters, real estate tycoons, aliens and flying henchmen in the decaying metropolis. Standard manga then. But what lies at the heart is a tale of brotherhood and love told through epic animation with a street fighter-esque quality.
Live musical accompaniment to film doesn’t always work. Sometimes the music is too protruding and often overshadows the film or you find yourself focusing more on the musicians and distracted by their performance, hence detracting from the film itself. Here, they perfectly complimented each other, allowing for both film and music to be appreciated individually and in unison.
Plaid’s mixture of electronic, jazz and synth-pop seamlessly punctuated the film’s storyline highlighting the high octane action sequences as well as the sentimental elements of the tale. There were times where you got completely lost in a dramatic scene, with beating conga’s subtly building up the tension for what seemed like 20 minutes, forgetting that there was someone there thumping away for the entire duration.
However, I did wonder at times, that if I did speak Japanese (sadly not) whether I would be able to hear the dialogue as clearly oveer the live score and be forced to read the subtitles. But obviously not an issue in this case. Also, though one can always expect whimsical, if sometimes slightly odd dialogue from Japanese animé, I did oppose to the clearly yank translator who decided to make the characters inhabitants of downtown Bronx and adopting vernacular from the ‘hood’.
But, subtitles aside, for someone who had not seen the film before, and by the look of it I was one of very few, I felt the music truly brought the animation to life and allowed you to completely immerse yourself in the story. So I can imagine by the complete audience adulation which followed the screening, that it also totally bewitched the core fans too.
Live music and film experiences runs until 8 December at: