Combine a liberal democracy, a historical tradition of conformity, highly-advanced consumerism, and an urban, politically-apathetic youth looking to rebel, and you get some extreme fashions. The United States and England are no strangers to extreme fashions from hippy (long hair, bell bottoms and love beads) to punk (dyed spiky hair, 14-eye Dr. Martens and dog collars); western youth have a history of broadcasting their non-conformity through their appearance, but in living memory nowhere (and perhaps never) has there been such a profusion of such various and extreme styles as those that emerged around Harajuku Station in Tokyo, Japan in the late '80s. The most enduring styles have included Punk, Rockabilly, Gyaru, Gothic Lolita, Cosplay, Kegadoru, and Ganguro. Though they're all now well past their prime, these styles are still sported by kids, mixed in among street performers and teen dance troupes (Takenoko-zoku), who congregate in Yogogi Park across from the station.
Yogogi Park, along with Tokyo's fashion houses and busy shopping districts, is prominently featured in Charles Hieronymi and Pascal Greco's Tokyo Streets. The DVD is composed of documentary video footage gathered during a single month's stay in Tokyo. The result looks more like a fashionista's summer vacation film that's been cut together on a Mac Powerbook at Starbucks than it does a documentary. There's no English dialogue, nor are there subtitles, but that's okay because there's nothing of any consequence said either. Mostly there are just images of wildly dressed kids, models, street hawkers and performers accompanied by a pleasing trace score. These images are mildly interesting, but too insubstantial to merit sitting down to watch them.
Tokyo Streets comes in an attractive slim board and plastic case. The disc features a number of colorful menus that capture signs and sights associated with Tokyo's underground JR Yamanote Line. However, the menu's functions are horribly designed. There are no written commands, nor even icons of clear intention anywhere on this disc. Most of the icons that are included play either a short segment or lead to other menus with additional short segments. There is a "play all" option, but it is not located on the startup menu (look for the icon featuring the model on the DVD cover, which is buried on one of the many submenus). If the play all icon is selected all of the segments play through (hopefully all anyway) and then appear to recycle with no apparent order thereafter. After skipping through a few dozen repeating segments, I can attest that the play-all option seemingly never concludes of its own accord; whether this is by design or flaw is unclear.
Tokyo Streets is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and appears to have been shot on a high-quality standard-definition camera. The image looks fairly good, but an anamorphic print of a high-definition 1.78:1 image would have been preferable for the subject matter.
The disc features a 2.0 stereo audio track which sounds very good. The trance score makes good use of the stereo sound.
The only extra I was able to locate by hunting through the labyrinth of submenus was a trailer for another fashion DVD from Microcinema, though there well could be other easter eggs to be found.
Tokyo Streets documents the wild fashions, street performances and displays found around Tokyo in a way that might be appealing as a background video playing in an Urban Outfitters, but doesn't work for home viewing. Even if the badly constructed menus were fixed, this disc wouldn't be worth the effort to see. If you want an artsy armchair look at Tokyo streets, Chris Marker's 1992 Sans Soleil is still the film to see. If you just want to see wild Tokyo street fashions, you might as well just go back through Shoichi Aoki's photobooks. Tokyo Streets should be skipped.