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As befits a distillation of 1,318 pages of the story so far, Akira is overstuffed with character, incident and detail. However, it piles up astonishing set pieces: the chases and shoot-outs (amazingly kinetic, amazingly bloody) benefit from minute cartoon detail that extends to the surprised or shocked faces of the tiniest extra; the Tetsuo monster alternately looks like a billion-gallon scrotal sac or a Tex Avery mutation of the monster from The Quatermass Experiment; and the finale--which combines flashbacks to more innocent days with a destruction of Neo City and the creation of a new universe--is one of the most mind bending in all sci-fi cinema. --Kim Newman
On the DVD: as befits this film's status as a Manga classic, Akira has a wide selection of extras spread across two discs, including a "Making of Akira" documentary, a photo gallery, a quiz and a "Make your own trailer" feature, as well as one hidden feature on each disc. The film has been digitally remastered and presented in widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 for the English-dubbed version, and Dolby Digital 2.0 for the original Japanese language version. The only disappointment of the disc is the animated Scene Selection, where the clips are rendered so small that they can be a bit difficult to decipher. --Rob Burrow
This was a massive hit over here and off the back of this landmark piece other Manga titles began to flow. And you know what? This is still better than most of them! The vibrant colours of the breathtaking Tokyo cityscape and the crisp sharp images that assault the mind show up most other films of its kind to date. This is something that has been improved on further still with this DVD that features a remastered picture as well as sound.
The soundtrack in particular makes this a worthwhile purchase on its own - even if you do already own the film. The music is, as ever, superb in Akira but the entire English dub has been completely redone for this special edition to give you speech that is not only good but also very convincing.
The story is something of a testament to the whole Manga name. It delivers all the usual themes but still manages to keep you firmly in its grasp right up until the explosive ending. Akira revolves around a group of bikers who stumble across a government run testing program that is trying to unleash (and control) psychic powers. Powers that lie dormant in all human beings - Unfortunately for them their latest subject and gang member Tetsuo becomes a little bit unstable to say the least. The result is some explosive animation and a deserved two-disc set.
After seeing some other fantastic two-disc sets this package may be a bit of a let down to the compulsive DVD buyer.Read more ›
But just a few words for those hardcore Manga fans out there regarding this particular release. If, like me, you prefer watching the original language versions of Manga films you may want to think twice about the Ultimate Collection. Why? Well, there's only one English subtitle track and it's for the hearing impared. This means that, along with the dialog, you get a load of little notes regarding what sort of background sounds accompany the scene, which is, frankly, as annoying as hell. Take the opening, for example, with the dramatic shot across the crater, you're just getting into the mood of the film when up pops "[wind blowing]" along the bottom of the screen. This sort of thing spoils the atmosphere of the film, especially when you can hear the wind blowing for yourself. I'm not saying there shouldn't be comments for the hearing impared, I'm saying that there should be the option to have regular subtitles as well, without all the little sound effect comments.
Second issue; one of the selling points of the re-mastered version is the new translations. Sadly, though some parts of the dialog are much better and flow more naturally, many other parts lose out. The original had more 'peotic' phrasing in some areas where the new version sounds cold and awkward. For example, where the orginal version wonders whether Akira's power might be "divine", the new version wonders if it "comes from God". On the whole I prefer the original text.Read more ›
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