Countdown: Akira Saga (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, August 16, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2003



What They Say
While Akira can have sex with any number of beautiful girls, he saves his love for only one: a beautiful, internationally-renowned model, who just happens to be his stepsister.

It matters little whether he's trysting with the dark-haired Yoshiko or having a quick office fling with his stepsibling's sexy agent. Akira's passion is only truly ignited by what he cannot have. Who will be burned by this unnatural, but tempting obsession? Will it be beautiful Kaname who finally admits her uncontrollable passion for Akira? Or will it be Akira himself when he is reunited with his object of desire?

Contains the entire Akira Saga Completely UNCUT.

The Review!
Three more episodes in the Countdown series, unrelated to the first, brings us into the world of what an older sister can do to a younger brother.

Audio:
As this series was never dubbed, all that�s available here is the standard stereo Japanese mix. The track is decent without much in the way of real directionality. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released to video back in 1995, the three episodes here look good over all, mixing in some simple animation and a number of very nice fluid ones, but it�s not problem free. The main culprit here is the aliasing that shows up during panning sequences where they�re using a still piece of animation. The smooth lines instead start looking like a series of stairs instead. Colors look good and the episodes are free of cross coloration as well as any over saturation.

Packaging:
Using some of the really detailed and beautiful artwork, the front cover here has a nice cirlcular image with one of the characters while the diluted hazy background in orange hides the face of another character. It doesn�t exactly sell the show, but it�s an interesting approach. The back cover is more traditional with a few shots from the show and a brief summary of the premise. The discs features are pretty much absent, once again toying with the consumer by not listing what audio or subtitle tracks are here. Even the runtime is horrendously off, listing 69 minutes while the press release had 75. The actual time? Closer to 90 as each episode runs just under 30 minutes or so. The insert provides some truly gorgeous artwork on the primary side of the lead character and his sister while the reverse side shows off the other lead character.

Menu:
The menu layout here is very simple with the primary menu being a shot of Kaname�s face against the blankets done in just a couple of colors while being set to a small piece of instrumental music. There�s very little here for the menus so it�s quite bare and easy to navigate, especially as there�s no language setup or extras.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first two episodes of the Countdown series was filled with hermaphrodites, I wasn�t sure what to expect going into this one. 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 bedbuddy 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�s a fairly nice little series though maybe a bit too long to hold up to three episodes. The character designs are nice and there�s 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.

Countdown: Akira Complex 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.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.




Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: SoftCel Pictures
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Countdown Series