Akira: Special Edition - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: A+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 4 - Australia / South America
  • Released By: Madman Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.95 AU
  • 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

    December 29, 2001

Akira: Special Edition
© Madman Entertainment

What They Say
The Masterpiece Returns

In 1988, the landmark Anime film AKIRA, by director Katsuhiro Otomo, defined the cutting edge of Anime around the world. By today’s standards, AKIRA remains a landmark achievement in cel animation and retains the explosive impact of its highly detailed animation and its intensely violent saga of power and corruption. Madman and Manga Entertainment proudly present this classic film, completely restored and digitally re-mastered.

Childhood friends Tetsuo and Kaneda’s motorcycle gang encounters a military operation to retrieve an escaped experimental subject. The military captures Tetsuo and conducts experiments on him that unleash his latent psychic ability, but when these new powers rage out of control, Tetsuo lashes out at the world that has oppressed him!

The Review!
Few anime movies have the otaku or mainstream pull of Akira, so there was much rejoicing when the remastered R1 version was announced. Of course it was only a matter of time before the Australian version appeared after Madman announced they had got the rights to Pioneer new master, but finally it’s here.

We get identical audio options to the R1 version, and go one better. Madman has the Australian rights to Manga titles, and Manga has the Australian rights to Akira, so that opened the door to including the old Streamline Pictures dub on this disc, the only release to offer it. The ability to watch finally watch Akira in Japanese is pleasure, with the added bonus of a new English dub too boot.

The remaster has worked wonders, with this leaps and bounds ahead of the VHS versions available. Watching the US trailer and Akira Production Report serve as a stark contrast between the old and the new. Blacks are solid blacks and colors are lively and vibrant. The quality is simply amazing.

The menus are jaw dropping, showing what Madman Interactive can do if they want to go all out. Based on the jagged lines from inside the Akira energy ball with the word Akira in the center. Underneath that of one of four of Omoto’s image boards for the movie as the screen moves about, pulls back and zooms inward on the image, with a 1 minute 55 second clip of “Kaneda” playing in the background, where upon the menu reboots with the next image board. Using a one touch navigation system, you simply push in the direction of the option you want it, all without pressing a button, all pages setup like a compass (North, South, East, West).

More than the R1 regular edition, but no second disc means the R1 special edition leaves the R4 version for dead in the area of extras. The standout of what is provided is the Akira Production Report, a Japanese piece on the production of the film, with an English voice track dubbed on top. My fav part was the pre-recording sessions with the voice actors, with their movements and mannerisms going on to directly influence their on-screen counterparts. All in all it’s good, but the quality shows how old it is, and sadly no English subtitles are provided so we have to put up with the English announcer’s different voices to represent different members of the staff.

The remaining extras are all trailers. On the Akira side, there is the Streamline Pictures US trailer, and a slew of Japanese trailers. The Special Announcement A teaser relies on images of the collected manga volume covers, while Special Announcement B plays up the mysterious backstory of the movie. The two full trailers ape each other with their near identical selection of scenes, but the second has more in the way of descriptive text. The rest are four other Manga Entertainment trailers (Ghost in the Shell, Blood, Perfect Blue and X) Normally I don’t mind these kind of trailers, but this time all I can think this is nearly six wasted minutes that could of been devoted to yet more Akira themed extras…

The cover is distinctive, and for once not merely a modified version of a Region 1 cover, but something new. Nominally black, the title takes up the top half, with one of the image boards Omoto drew of the black ball savaging Tokyo, the one seen under the credits for the Akira Production Report, taking up the remainder. The blue and green toned image is beautifully detailed and really draws you to get up close and examine it.

The back cover in comparison is decidedly dull black full of white text, broken up by screen captures and the red disc spec box. One notable fact is that Pioneer get one little credit, with Manga Entertainment insignia everywhere. Inside the double-sided cover we have gray toned skyscrapers from the film, with the scene index and simple explanation of the one touch navigation on the right. Thankfully it’s not used as advertising space like the majority of Madman releases. The disc itself has the front cover image, with some shrunk and muted spec info.

The film begins with the destruction of Tokyo on the 16th of July 1988 by a gigantic black ball of energy. Fast forwarding to 2019, the now rebuilt city is a marvel of clean, futuristic skyscrapers that hide a bubbling discontent with it’s creators. Down in the canyons between the lofty ‘scrapers, social order is breaking down, as revolution seems likely and biker gangs rule the streets.

One such gang features the two of the film more notable characters, brash good natured leader-type Kaneda and shy, hen-pecked Tetsuo. Content with their violent, biker gang life, both unwittingly become entangled in events that will rapidly change Tokyo, as a secret government project rises to the surface to reclaim one of their test subjects. The young boy interrupts the gang’s pursuit of their enemy the Clowns, causing Tetsuo to crash. Making use of this unexpected turn of events, they attempt to awaken his latent psychic abilities, his potential power close to that of the mysterious entity referred to as Akira.

While Tetsuo begins to manifest incredible powers, Kaneda attempts to search for his friend, linking up a young woman named Kei, a member of a resistance group. As the barely healed wounds of the city are torn open by a now power mad Tetsuo’s search for the only person stronger than him, Akira, the majority of the cast are thrust into a brutal fight for their lives.

Akira set the trend for anime movies that require multiple viewings to get a grip on, and repeats allow you to better experience the awesome visual feast. Very heartily recommended.

Pioneer Dolby 5.1 English track,Streamline Dolby 2.0 English track,Japanese Dolby 2.0 track,English subtitles,Akira production report,US theatrical trailer,Japanese trailers

Review Equipment
JNL-7001 DVD Player, Commodore 1802 PAL Color Monitor


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