Countdown Akira -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Critical Mass Video
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 87
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Countdown Series

Countdown Akira

By Chris Beveridge     March 18, 2007
Release Date: March 27, 2007

Countdown Akira
© Critical Mass Video

What They Say
Who needs a reason for sex? Akira's handsome enough to get any girl he wants, at any time. The endless parade of women might be enough for anyone else, but Akira's passion is only truly ignited by one person: a beautiful, internationally renowned model.. who just happens to be his sister!
It matters little whether he's trysting with the dark-haired Yoshiko or having a quick office fling with his sister's sexy agent, Akira is obsessed with the one person he cannot have. Who will be burned by this unnatural, but tempting, obsession? Will it be the beautiful Kaname, who's torn by her desire for the unfeeling Akira? Or will it be Akira, himself, when he is reunited with the object of his desire?

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.

Unlike the original release, Countdown Conjoined has received a brand new English language adaptation to complement the original Japanese dialogue. 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 OVAs is essentially the same as we saw with the SoftCel release. 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 previous one 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 follows a similar design to the previous volume in the series with a few shots from the show and some original illustration work of the characters. The shows summary and special features are all clearly listed as is the information in the technical grid. No insert or reversible cover are included here.

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 extras are what should be expected both for an adult release and one of this vintage. Included is a brief line art gallery showcasing character designs as well as an all too brief series of dub outtakes.

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?

Critical Mass continues to revive titles from the SoftCel catalog that may not have reached the same audience because of the lack of a dub. Countdown Akira is the latest in that line of titles and it receives much the same treatment. As we've seen with their other titles, the actual presentation of the show is essentially the same yet quite different. The show itself looks like it has, albeit with a touch more clean-up with more advanced authoring since the original release back in 2003. With many fans wanting to hear the men and women in the show in their native tongue, the new dub presented here makes the show far more accessible. And with more shows not having dubs for adult releases, the new dub helps it stand out a bit more against the crowd.

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.

In Summary:
Critical Mass does things right once again by making sure that vintage adult anime isn't lost to the ages. With few shows being of a similar nature made today, there's something to say for nostalgia but also traditionally animated hentai. 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.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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