Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+/
- Extras Rating: A+
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 39.99
- Running time: 124
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Akira
Akira: Special Edition (& Limited Edition)
By Jason Hicks
February 06, 2002
Release Date: July 24, 2001
I first started watching anime about the time that Akira came out. I loved everything about it, and was itching to find more, but much to my dismay, hardly anything even comes close. When you want the gritty, visceral emotion that Akira provides, shows like Tenchi Muyo just don't cut it. Akira is in a class by itself.
When I discovered it would be available on DVD, I preordered about five months in advance. I had been waiting for this ever since I saw Ghost in the Shell on DVD, and knew what anime on DVD was capable of. The version I own is the Limited Edition, in the tin case.
There are countless reviews available already, so I am going to try to discuss the things that I wanted to know before I got a chance to see it, but no one seemed to be going into very deeply.
I went straight to the new dub for this one. I had seen the original a hundred times, and I was afraid that I would be so used to the old dub that I wouldn't like the new one. That worry was thankfully groundless. The new dub is very natural sounding, and the new translation makes a lot of scenes make a whole lot more sense. The voice actors who do Kandea and Tetsuo are the most important, and their level of emotion is perfect for the film. I thought the biggest improvement was in the humanoid children, because they actually sound like kids now (the one sounded like Tattoo from Fantasy Island before, what's up with that?). The bottom line is, even though I was a fan of the original in all its campy glory, the new dub is actually very watchable and enjoyable. A word of warning though, "Kaneda" and "Akira" are pronounced in a very Japanese way, so if you are used to the bastardized American pronunciation, it may grate on you.
The Japanese version, which I heard for the first time, was strikingly similar to the new dub. After seeing it, I realized just how true to the original the new dub tried to be. I recommend the dub to those who usually watch subs, as the two are practically the same thing here.
I'm glad they cleaned up the image, and for the most part it looks good, so I'm not going to just repeat what everyone else has already said. I will point out a problem I had with it though (gasp! A problem with the holy Akira transfer?), and that's the fact that things seemed almost TOO bright. The dark, moody atmosphere that I was used to seemed almost pastel in places, and I'm not sure if it was originally intended to be that way. I noticed it especially in the beginning, when the terrorist was trying to sneak Takashi away from the military. Cars and signs and even the blood were really bright, almost unnaturally so. I've had my VHS tape for about a decade though, so maybe the version I'm used to has simply faded in time and use.
The tin case looks really great; I especially like the cityscape artwork inside the cover behind each disk. The insert was pretty standard, with some artwork from the film and a rundown of the contents of each disc. There was also a temporary tattoo included, that just seemed entirely too large to be actually used.
I didn't like the clasp used to hold the disc in the case though. I had never seen one like it before. It has three tabs, two immovable ones on the bottom and one that pushes down on the top. The one on the top is supposed to free the disc enough that it pops loose, but that just wasn't the case for me. I like the simple yin-yang shaped clasps that pop right off, and this was infuriating. I eventually got the two discs out, and snapped off one of the bottom pegs on each disc. The two remaining pegs are more than enough to hold the disc in, and it comes right out when I push the button.
They look pretty slick, and the sound is incredible. My beef with the menus is that once you set the subtitle choice at the beginning, you can't switch them in the middle of the movie. It's not too big of a deal, but I feel it needs to be mentioned. This is usually a very basic function on all DVDs, so I can't imagine why they left it off.
Yes, there are a lot of extras. I mean, a LOT of extras. Free up a weekend if you plan to watch them all. Die-hard fans, like myself, will love these, but others will probably be bored before you get even a third of the way through them. I liked the stills the best, as you get character sketches and studies, and it's interesting to see the creative process at work like that.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Anyone who doesn't know what this movie is about has been living in a cave for twenty years. This film is all about action, emotion, and the force that makes the universe go 'round. It starts with an action-packed motorcycle gang war, moves through terrorist attacks, political conspiracies, scientific experiments, and a slight romance, and ends up at the brink of apocalypse, asking "what does it all mean?" It may be too violent for some viewers, but the messages it tries to convey are intended for everyone.
The story at the heart of it, a young boy who had the odds stacked against him his entire life and finally gets a chance to make a real difference, is something everyone can relate to. What he does when presented with the ability to do whatever he wants is a universally "human" thing to do. It s really a study in human nature, and it just happens to have a lot of really great action scenes. If you like action movies or anime, you owe it to yourself to see this at least once.
My system is a Sony Playstation 2, hooked up to a meager Sharp 27" TV.