Yellow Kid / イエローキッド
Tetsuya Mariko’s feature debut, Yellow Kid, starts with a grittily stylish evocation of the boxing world meeting manga in a potentially intriguing story that layers the manipulation of a young aspiring boxer, Tamura (Kaname Endo), by comic artist Hattori (Ryo Iwase). Hattori insinuates himself into the gym where Tamara trains to use him as a model for his new comic hero, the Yellow Kid. Opening with a convincing evocation of sweaty gyms and angry young men mixing up with rough trade and dead end lives, Yellow Kid builds with sure and deft characterizations. Mariko has a great eye for types and broad visual strokes. Yellow Kid unfortunately collapses with its obsessive and smothering plot, subplots, 2 alternate endings and to top it off, a final McGuffin in the last shot to confuse the issues even more. There are enough ideas and themes in Yellow Kid to supply a number of movies – gritty pugilist realism, noirish love triangles, hero myths meeting hard reality, postmodern meta-storytelling. Perhaps Mariko should have settled on just one or two.
Originally published in EL Magazine, February 2010