Countdown: Akira (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Three episodes in the Countdown series, unrelated to the first series, brings us into the world of what an older sister can do to a younger brother.
What They Say
Akira, a handsome devil of a young man, is the sort of guy who can have his pick of the litter. But while his face might be beautiful, his personality is anything but. The ladies who flock to him are treated coldly in the end since there is only one woman that he truly loves. Unfortunately, it is a romance that was never meant to be, so he continues to at least find physical comfort in the arms of other partners. But when his one true love comes back into the picture, the clock ticks down to what can only be a tragic conclusion.
This release retains the bilingual presentation that was created for the Critical Mass release in that we get a pair of stereo tracks encoded at 192kbps. Both tracks are presented in a standard stereo mix but it's pretty much a full on center feeling. Outside of some bits of music that are kept to either the left or right, there isn't a lot to focus on here in terms of directionality. The audio tracks do serve the material well though as they don't require any sort of heavy mix to them. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout both of them and we didn't have any troubles with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released back in 1995, the transfer for these three OVAs is essentially the same as we saw with the SoftCel and Critical Mass releases. For a traditional animation show, it turned out pretty nice and avoids the big stumbling block of cross coloration by having practically none. There's some aliasing during some panning sequences as well there being some small amount of grain throughout the program. There is a fair bit of noise throughout it but considering the show, quality of materials and other factors it doesn't impact it much. Colors look good without any over saturation or bleeding. The dark blue skies and other darkened areas maintain a non-blocky look throughout.
Similar to the original release, this one uses the very appealing image of Akemi in a fetal position. Unlike the first release that used it as part of the cover, it dominates here with a simple non-descript background. All the focus is on Akemi and her pale skin and long flowing purple hair, making it a very striking and eye-catching piece. The back cover has the pairing of Akira with his sister in an almost ghostlike form along the left that dominates in a good way. The background is the same overall as what we got on the front cover as it wraps around and on top of that we get the basic summary of the show which is simple but effective. Several shots from the show are included as well as the basic production credits. The technical grid is nicely done as it lays everything out in a clean and very easy to read format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Going with a simple approach, the main menu uses the character artwork from the front cover with a static background that seems to remind me of wallpaper in a hotel. The logo looks good with the heightened lighting on it and the selections are all quick and easy to access while a bit of vocal music plays along. The menu is a pretty average effort but it works and gets you to the show quickly. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players' language presets correctly.
The art gallery and dub outtakes that were present on the Critical Mass version are not available on this release, which mirrors other titles that Kitty has acquired that were done by Critical Mass.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Changing hands once again, first going from SoftCel to Critical Mass and now on to Kitty Media, Countdown: Akira has been given a new lease on life. The SoftCel version was the worst of the bunch overall since it was a basic monolingual release, something that the Critical Mass version changed by dubbing it which exposed it to more people. Kitty’s taken what they did and have repackaged it well here, though short on a couple of basic extras, in order to spread it out to a different set of fans that may not have heard of it before.
The first two episodes of the Countdown series, which is unrelated to these episodes, was filled with hermaphrodites. Going into this one the first time around I wasn't sure what to expect since it could only get more intense from there. Thankfully, there's none of that here though we do get some amount of cross-play of sorts. There's nothing wrong with men dressing up in women's clothes, right?
The three episodes for this particular release focus around a young college man named Akira Amamiya. He's something of a quiet yet cool type who doesn't really pay much mind to other people. Essentially, they're just there to him and that's about it. Since he's quite handsome, he often ends up being in the sights of many women, which he basically uses and lets them use him. His only restriction is that the women can never call him by his first name. That's reserved for someone else.
To counter him, we have the young woman named Kaname, a brunette who isn't exactly prudish but doesn't like his flippant lifestyle, especially since one of her friends is a bed buddy of his. When she confronts him, she's shocked when he admits that he was fooling around with someone else and that it was a man, as he plays both sides of the field. She's barely able to deal with this before her friend arrives and they go off together, leaving Kaname almost dumbstruck.
Her encounter with Amamiya changes something in here though, but she fights it off. It's only after she finds her boyfriend kissing someone else on a crowded city street that she breaks down and ends up at his place, which leads to the two of them being intimate. She finds herself falling in love with him, but he's simply too cold to open up to her. As we see through the times that he's alone, he pines away for his older sister, a woman who did much to him when he was younger that's caused him to have a fixation on her and her being perfect.
The balance between everyone keeps going for awhile, but it all shifts dramatically when his sister finally comes home from modeling abroad, and that kicks off all sorts of problems and changes in the relationships.
Though the show does play with gender a bit here and there and you have a character that's difficult to identify with in Akira, it so a fairly nice little series though maybe a bit too long to hold up to three episodes. The character designs are nice and there are some interesting uses of the animation, almost Pink Floyd like at times, to deal with the actual penetration sequences or things as simple as kissing. The downside is that, especially in the first episode, it seems more like a series of stills than actual animation make up the series.
Kitty Media really hasn’t done all that much here other than to wrap up the show in a different cover and a new menu layout with some of their own trailers added in as a bonus. Critical Mass did the heavy work in creating the dub which is thankfully included here. With few shows being of a similar nature to this one being made today, there's something to say for nostalgia but also traditionally animated hentai. Countdown: Akira tries to be a little psychological drama and spins out its tale slowly, but has enough characters to hold your attention as you watch it lumber forward. The actual action scenes are pretty nicely done and very smoothly animated. Though it runs three episodes, it feels longer and feels like it could have been done shorter, but it's a good set of episodes that's not hardcore and not too softcore to be able to walk the line.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Countdown Series