I don't intend to offer a full review here, just make a couple of remarks regarding this version of the film. I originally bought the collector's edition of Akira when it first came out on VHS. I love the film and it is as good as its reputation, so if you've never seen it and are hesitating about buying it, go right ahead.
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. Once again I am commenting on the subtitles, I'm afraid I still can't bear watching the dubbed version of the film (even this "improved" version) - it is still not anywhere near as good as the original Japanese voice acting.
Aside from the niggles regarding translation and subtitles, the image quality is very good, I've finally rediscovered the subtelties in colour shades and crisp image I experienced when I first saw the film in the cinema, both of which were sadly lacking from the VHS version.
So, does this version merit the "Ultimate Collection" tag? I'd say close, but not quite...
on 27 June 2011
The first Anime movie that left us with our jaws on the floor, our eyes melting and looking for more. Sure, we had G Force and the Japanese/French Animated Cities of Gold, not to mention Dogtanion. But, aside from looking a bit alike and being strangely appealing, a connection to a wider market was mostly never made. When Akira came out I was in my teens and drifting away from "cartoons", but when I got taken along to my local arthouse to see Akira for the first time I abandonded "cartoons" completely and my love for Anime began - I owe it all to Akira.
Firstly, the steelbook is gorgeous and only 10,000 made. Inside we have the movie on Bluray and DVD, coupled with a 32 page collectors booklet. The booklet goes in depth on the sound of Akira, its impact, expression and so on. For a mere 32 pages make no mistake, it isn't a light read but rather something you can get your teeth into.
I have to mention that nobody involved in Akira's making thought it would be a success, as a result most of the original prints were destroyed, or ended up in the hands of overseas collectors. The last time I saw Akira in the cinema (many moons ago) it was an absolute mess and falling to bits. Which makes the work done here all the more impressive. There is a bit of debris over the print, the usual black and white flecks but nothing too distracting from your sofa. The colours reflect the original print and are nice and clear. The animation also holds up well with no jagged edges or wavering. By and large blacks are handled well also. To be honest from a picture point of view I think it's a triumph, it has its flaws but many of them will be inherent from the source and the era in which it was made.
Sound quality (True HD 5.1) is very good and captures the Akira soundtrack superbly. This release still has the new revised Akira dub that they added years ago. It may be more accurate but to be honest I did prefer the original cast, and it would have been nice to have both English audio tracks, even if the latter was just in 2.0. Japanese Dub is present and correct and as energetic as ever. Finally we have the subtitles, which are Japanese and English: closed captioned, or dubtitles if you will. I know some will be bothered by the latter and others wont. I'm not fussed personally but some people will be and it deserves a mention.
Final verdict: The movie gets 5 stars, but the bluray overall can perhaps just scrape a 4 at best. Picture quality and sound ive no problems with, I mean it's not Pixar/Ghibli quality but given the problems I mentioned above it was never going to be. But this - its original theatrical run aside - is easily the best Akira has ever looked and sounded, so its worth the purchase for that alone. The only downside is every other area (bar packaging of course), it's presented as a 'Collectors Edition' yet it is missing so much, even old extras from the R1 Ultimate edition would have been welcome. And I personally would have found an in depth featurette on the remastering process essential viewing, but alas it's just a few trailers (On the Bluray) and the Akira Production report (coupled onto the DVD) that we all saw years ago.
4 stars overall then I think is fair, It isn't an awful Bluray by any means, it just seems like a missed opportunity to provide us with the definitive edition a film of this quality deserves.
on 28 October 2007
It is truly a shame that this film has two opposite facets, kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The animation, graphics and attention to detail is among the best I have ever seen. However, the overall quality of this production is damaged by the lousy storyline, which is hard to follow and loses focus quickly. Being and anime fan, I realize that this is still a movie worth seeing, because the technical aspects are breathtaking, but those people that are not fans of genre, will likely be extremely disappointed.
The story combines motorcycle gangs, mind experiments, corrupt politicians, secret organizations, an immense power that if it is not kept in check may cause havoc, and a couple of interesting characters. The main problem is that the logic and flow of the story quickly go astray, and we are left grasping at straws to keep our interest while we admire the perfect drawings and unbelievable action scenes. I feel conflicted now, because on one hand I want to try Otomo's next movie, "Steamboy", hoping that the excellent animation is complemented by a good story, but what if it is not? I already realized that sometimes you cannot trust the hype.
on 21 January 2008
This is, simply, one of the best and most influential animes ever made. It's edgy, dark and definitely not for children; however, the violence is purely plot-driven and not gratuitous like some anime, and there is no sex apart from some slight nudity in one part of the film.
The animation and quality, in the "re-done" version at least, are top-notch. The voice acting in the English dub is also very good, with the exception of one or two rather flat-sounding background characters, who you don't notice anyway.
One of the surprising hits about this anime, for me, was the soundtrack. It's great music that really suits the scene, from the cyberpunk techno-rock for the biker gangs to the creepy, disjointed, discordant music during the psychic attack on Tetsuo.
Speaking of which, the scene where a giant teddy bear and other toys attack Tetsuo is still one of the most frightening and creepy things I've ever watched, and one of the reasons I wouldn't show this film to anyone under about 16.
Akira is based on a 6-volume manga. I highly, highly recommend that you buy or borrow the manga and read it; although the film differs in some key plot points due to having to fit over a thousand pages into a two hour film, the manga provides great background for the characters, along with some extra characters. The story in the manga is obviously longer and more involved and makes a great read.
Overall, I love this film. Apart from being a great, influential film in itself, it's also an excellent example of a "happy medium" for anime - not cheaply made, badly-acted Saturday-morning-cartoon-type crap, yet not an ultra-violent-with-gratuitious-sex movie that has to be kept at the back of your DVD shelf.
A great introduction to the genre and a great film overall!
on 11 October 2007
There's a vast allegory here - a post-Hiroshima distrust of the wheels of industry - that runs through a lot of modern manga, from Doomed Megalopolis, through Patlabor 1 & 2, to Katsuhiro Otomo's own Steamboy. (More recently, with films like Ghost In the Shell 1 & 2, the dominant fear has been of a kind of hidden cyber-apocalypse.) But the urban apocalypse was most powerfully and poetically realised with Akira. Otomo's movie, based on his own manga comic, clocks in at over two hours; it is a dramatically arresting epic. It's also visually sumptuous. Remember this was 1988, before the CG revolution - the huge images contain herein would have been impossible to recreate 'live'.
Some might resent the characters' lack of personality. Indeed, they're far less outwardly expressive than the more cariacatured efforts found in, say, Wings of Honneamise or Metropolis. But Akira is not concerned with sentimentalising its characterisation. Key players are wantonly despatched amongst Tokyo's toppling tower blocks - Tetsuo's (Nozomu Sasaki) girlfriend, the ghost-white Kaori (Yuriko Fuchizaki), for all her stubbornness and pleading, is a vessel of tragedy. The closest we get to an intimate relationship is between Tetsuo and Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata), although ultimately even this comes down to some nuclear-fuelled fisticuffs. This is not to say that Akira's characterisation is lacking - far from it. In fact, the psychological plight of Colonel Shikishima (Taro Ishida) as he realises the folly of his lust for power, and then his subsequent forgiveness, is moving; likewise, the horrible ordeals of the ever-young 'Espers' gives their final sacrifice added poignancy.
There are murmurs of a live action remake of Akira, with Stephen "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" Norrington attached. Quite apart from the instrinsic pointlessness (unless your point is profit) behind remaking perfectly good films, what will become of the original's real trump card - namely its sheer unhindered scope. Here is a movie which not only dares to look the apocalypse in the eye, but even shows us what lies beyond. What will it sound like, for instance, as Kaneda's bike rolls across the empty road bridge towards the ruins of neo-Toyko, when Shia LaBeouf utters those simple yet profound words, "I am Tetsuo"?
on 20 October 2006
Based on Katsuhiro Otomo's famous manga, Akira is probably one of the best known anime there is. It certainly is one of the most widely available, and even video stores that don't carry anime usually have a copy of it. Not to mention the fact that it's a damned good movie, and is perfect for introducing anime to newbies.
The story is quite well composed, yet also a little confusing if you don't pay attention. World War III has apparently destroyed Tokyo, and 30 years later, Neo-Tokyo has been built on the remnants of the old. This new city is anything but paradise infact it's a right hell hole, with gangs running wild in the streets and shady political characters in office. One such gang gets involved in a web of military secrets involving a mysterious force known only as "Akira". Needless to say, things start to heat up and it's not long before all hell breaks loose. I don't really know how best to describe it, other than to say it's not your typical post-apocalyptic science fiction flick. There is a good mix of both white-knuckle action and slower intrigue, and the two balance out nicely. The whole "Akira" mystery is well played, and I was drawn into the events that unfolded. The ending, while breaking away from tradition, does leave a few questions left unanswered. Personally, it left me pondering, but to others may find it a confusing and disappointing.
The characters are quite varied, and it's sometimes difficult to tell who is on which side. The main players include Kaneda, head of a motorcycle gang, Tetsuo, who becomes an unwilling military experiment, and the Colonel, who seems to be on both sides of the conflict. I felt a little strange cheering for a bunch of juvenile delinquents, but it's refreshing that there is no solid "hero" in the bunch. Everyone is flawed somehow, which makes them very believable.
The art and animation are very well done, and smoother than a lot of modern anime. One thing that really struck me were the cool light trails the motorcycles left in their wake. It's kind of gimmicky, but it still is neat to look at. excellent touch, The dubbing which is ohh so important to me and can ruin a film i will be honest it's not fantastic but it's passable, not great but not bad so all in all you wont be left cursing the dubbing team lol all in all Akira is quite a good piece of science fiction. If you want something with a good balance of action and intellectual content, then this is the movie for you.
MY ADVICE IS BUY THIS DVD STICK IT ON YOUR DVD SHELF AND ENJOY =)
on 2 July 2004
I own over 60 anime at the moment and Akira was one of my first,
and I must say at the time it was mind blowing and a great introduction
into the anime scene.
But now after a few years I find that akira although having,
great animation, a thrilling-immersive soundtrack and a weird and
uncomprehedible plot, is just lacking any type of true emotional involvement making the whole experience although amazing on your first
veiwing, truly empty after you've seen it more than twice.
Now it may soung like im being quite negative,
but I cant stress enough that akira is one of the best anime ova's
you will EVER see.
Now onto this particular release.
The dvd sleve's artwork is attractive and very stylish using the original
promo poster as its front cover pic,and again the dvd box inserts are
very god looking.
Although I must say after a while the cardboard packaging which the box
is made of does get a bit scruffy after only a small amount of use,
so if like me you are into the habit of keeping dvd's like new, this will
try your patience.
the dvd's themselves are just repackaged versions of the 2001 re-release
of the digitally remastered film, although now including the original
4.3 aspect of the movie released in 1988 with its original (terrible)
english dubb, and they also decided not to remaster the original transfer
meaning the picture is grainy and blurred as if being viewed on a vhs tape.
furthermore the disks themselves are just a bit of a hash up, like
i said theyre just repackaged disks from the 2001 release.
The actual special features are nothing great, with a large amount actually
being unwatchable due to the disks being repackaged and the second
altered to include the original transfer.
Meaning that all yuo get is a screen saying INSERT DISK 2, but
it is the disk 2 from 2001 not the one that comes with this release.
and also the one special feature you do get that is any good is a
very long overview of the film (made for tv), which actually although
being informative is very booring.
All in all its good that we can now see akira as it was originally in 1988
and its good that we can watch the remastered version.
but apart from that you should really buy the 2001 release.
And this collection is definitely the best version of it available. You can watch it three different ways - the original version, before the remastering, with the original dub; the remastered edition with a whole new dub, or the remastered edition with the original Japanese soundtrack and English subtitles (should you need them). Definitely the best of all possible worlds.
Watch the old version first because it's the still the coolest version - it's true the English translation is really dated and the voice acting isn't quite as good as the new version, but there are classic lines in the old version that are lost with the new dub. However, then you should watch the remastered version with the new dub, because it explains what's going on much better (always helpful with anime, I find) but the translation actually sticks closer to the Japanese than the old one. They pronounce the names properly, too, and the voice actors are superb, with better lip-synching - not to mention getting rid of the cheesy eighties slang. But it loses a little of the spirit of Akira, so don't watch it first. Then you can watch it in Japanese and see the various merits of the different translations. It really helped having the new dub to compare the old one to, because some things are really obscure in the original. But it deliberately refuses to copy the old classic lines, so you lose some of the powerful simplicity of the old script. But the characters actually swear in this version; it always amused me that this gang of teen biker rebels never said anything worse than "oh no!" whenever things went wrong.
Also amusing is that Manga Video haven't bothered to redesign the graphics in the menu of the second disc, so you can blatantly see that it's the disc from their previous release of Akira. But this is a chance to own both versions, so I think this is the better package to go for. The new version means I can now appreciate the old one better because the ending finally makes sense, but I can still enjoy the genius of the old one.
This film must be seen, because it is a seminal piece of film-making, influencing such a lot of Western films as well as Eastern ones. And it's extremely thought-provoking, with deep reflections on the evils of power, and humanity's inability to handle it. And it's just... so cool.
on 10 June 2004
This is a masterpiece, it has been since it was first released in 88/89. I saw this back in 99 on the tv but it was in Japanese and had annoying subs (but it was at 2:00 in the morning so they could just get the cheapest version they could get).
Last year I went into a shop and bought it with my b-day money (I could not buy it before, stupid BBFC ratings!!). My opinion is the best money I have spent on a DVD.
The film storyline is the best I have ever seen (that includeds live action aswell as animation). The music soundtrack is fantastic. The dub is very good and it kinda does go with the mouth movements. The re-marstering has made it look better than the original. They also made the deaths better, better blood colour and the sound effects (ecepicaily the sqwish at the end, LOL)
Good Points: The detail in the re-mastering, the production report and the trailers.
Bad Points: Not enough extras, the fact that they are calling a link to A website a special feature, the fact that the three easter eggs on the disks (1 on the first disk and 2 on the second disk) out of all of them only 1 has been found.
Known Easter Egg Hint: Press play the first time you see one of the main characters.
All in all this is the revolution of animation and is still the best anime that has been released and it will be a long time untill they bring a film out that is better than this.
on 10 August 2006
For it's time Akira was a stunning movie and still is, the animation has aged well and along with the great soundtrack create a dark vision of the future thats very believable.
The Dub(voice acting)is one of the few I can enjoy and makes easier viewing for those who can't keep up with the subtitles and images at the same time.
Neo Tokyo has been built on the site of the old one after WWIII!
Neo Tokyo has advanced quite a lot technologically but is socially similar to the brutal world of mad max! it's here we join Kaneda a punk and his biker gang who are mostly trying to enjoy themselves before an accident blows them apart. Tetsuo a close childhood friend of Kaneda is captured by the government and experimented on to be developed into a controllable psychic weapon to protect Tokyo. it's not long before he hears the voices of the other experiments,goes mad and escapes.
the plot can be confusing towards the end especially the character Akira who isn't fully explained. Tetsuo's road to general and self destruction is gripping though and his friend Kaneda's plight to stop him has you wondering what's going through their heads.This is amplified by Katsuhiro Otomo's great character designs. to make the most of the plot I recommend you read the manga anyway you can as it adds a lot and the film seems to be a alternate retelling of it.