Mania Grade: A+
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A
- Extras Rating: A++
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Bandai Visual
- Running time: 124
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Akira
Akira Special Edition
June 21, 2002
What They SayThe Review!
This review is for the JAPANESE region 2 release of Akira NOT the European release. I bought the Japanese release after hearing Manga Entertainment were releasing the R1 special edition in the UK in March 2002. Onto the review
Since I HATE dubs I watched the film in its original Japanese language. The Japanese R2 release of Akira includes two separate mixes. A dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. This is the first time Akira has had a 5.1 mix on DVD. The other region releases only contain the Japanese DD2.0 Stereo mix, which is a shame as the 5.1 mix is absolutely incredible. Having had the film on VHS for over ten years (bought the VHS on my 16th birthday) I had only heard the dub and this was the first time I had heard the original Japanese dialogue. The audio was very clear and precise. The rear surround channels were used heavily throughout the movie enveloping you within the environment on-screen. The positioning was very precise and the subwoofer was given plenty of work also. The bike chase toward the beginning of the film was exceptional with bikes moving around you realistically and the scene with Tetsuo morphing into a blob was sublime with his voce echoing around the stadium. The sensation of flesh moving around you as you watch was incredible.
However, the English 5.1 mix was a little disappointing. While the English 5.1 mix was very good it did not envelope you as much as the Japanese 5.1mix with the sound not moving convincingly from speaker to speaker. The English 5.1 mix is the new script dub.
The video on this release is top notch. I watched this movie on a PAL TV and even with the picture being NTSC I never noticed any aliasing issues (which is more apparent with newer digital anime), with edges being nice and clean. Colours are sharp and vibrant. Shadows are dark without the artifacting you?d usually see on lower quality dvd?s. While the picture is amazing for a movie this old, there is a slight grain to the picture. When I say slight I mean SLIGHT. Its barely noticeable but its there. However it is also present on the R2 Manga Entertainment release but more apparent.
The DVD comes in a large thick sturdy cardboard case with a Silver leaf ?Akira? logo and a four colour print picture depicting Tetsuo in greys, green and reds. The box also comes with a paper wrap-around sleave like you find with Japanese audio cd?s with information about the contents and pricing etc. The DVD?s themselves come in two separate standard DVD cases with the same illustration as the box. All in all the packaging is very stylish and oozes quality.
While not being technically an ?extra? I?ll start with the subtitles. The English subtitles were a surprise. I had expected the English subtitles to be a little confusing as with other subtitles I have seen. But these were excellent. The subtitles were excellent. I found I was able to understand the film a lot better with the subtitles than I did with the dub. I cant vouch for how faithful the subtitles are to the original Japanese language since I don?t understand Japanese too well. But I would take the subtitles over the dub anytime.
Onto the ?real? extras which come on a separate DVD entitled ?Production Archives?. I can?t really say much for these since they are in the original Japanese language and are NOT subtitled. Well first of all we have the 1988 production report which is basically a ?behind the scenes? look at the making of Akira. Secondly we have the 2001 Production report. This is similar to the first report with the exception of having new interviews and original content to the 1988 report. I?m not overly sure since I don?t speak the language. Sorry.
The animation archives are a selection of scenes from the film shown in the original line drawings alongside clips and sound from the film. There is also a commentary from the animation director alongside the animation. Its pretty interesting to watch the scenes played out in front of you without the final painted cells as you really get to see how much effort goes into the production of a film of this scale. When you watch anime you don?t tend to realize how much work goes into it, but this extra shows you, with the original sketches, just how much time and effort goes into every second of film.
The art works gallery is a collection of sketches and stills from the film. And lastly there are the Trailers. Which is pretty self explanatory. Those being trailers for the film.
Now comes the fun part. The two extras which are not on the dvd?s are the 16 page Production Notes booklet which is a high quality booklet containing an introduction to the film, which outlines the story and the author and tells you about the dvd. There are chapters about ?streaking? which explains the process used to add the streak effect to the lights on the bikes in th chase scenes. It then tells you about the basic process of animation showing you the storyboard picture, the sketch, the final outline to the finished cell. There are also scenes from the film titled ?Motorbike?, ?Structure?, ?Mob Scene?, Crush & Explosion?, ?Iced Smoke?, ?Metamorphosis? and ?Catastrophe? each shown with pictures and an explanation of the scene. There is also a page with staff credits for the English DD5.1 mix and credits for the dvd production team
Last but not least we have the icing on the cake. A full 500+ page book with the entire film in storyboard format. Each and every storyboard for the film reproduced in this high quality book. Complete with the sketches, timings, dialogue and camera movements. This book shows you the entire film as it was before they gave it to the animators. A real treasure and definitely something for the collectors out there.
Its Akira, need I say more. I cant really say any more without saying anything which hasn?t already been said in numerous other reviews.
An amazing film which took me the better part of a decade to understand due to a not overly clear dub (or maybe I?m just thick), has now been made more accessible thanks to a new dub and fantastic subtitles. Excellent sound and picture quality make this an essential purchase to anyone even remotely interested in anime. To those who like the dub and already have the film on dvd then only get this Japanese release if you really want the extras books. To those who already have the film on dvd, but like the Japanese language more and have a DD5.1 setup then GET THIS NOW!!!!. Its worth buying just for the Japanese DD5.1 mix. Anyone else who doesn?t have this film already MUST buy this release instead of the other R1 and R2 releases. It may be more expensive but its worth the extra cash.
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 language,Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 language,English Dolby Digital 5.1 language,English Subtitles (Main feature only),Japanese Subtitles (Main feature only),Production Report 1988 (48mins),Production Report 2001 (43mins/DD5.1),Animation Archive (32mins),Art Works Gallery (10mins),Trailers (5mins),Production Notes Booklet (16 pages),Story Boards Book - The Continuity of Akira. (approx 500+ Pages, Not numbered and really thick.)
Sony KV28WX 28? Widescreen TV, Toshiba SD9000 DVD Player, Yamaha DSP-A2 DD/DTS Amplifier