In terms of DVD (not BD) I own multiple re-releases on DVD and would be happy to offer basic advice. The short answer is - you need multiple copies for the full experience.
I have not bothered upgrading to BD and refuse to do so until 7.1 sound systems are easier to obtain at a reasonable cost. I have seen Akira on BD though.
All the best content based DVDs use the 1080i HD master Pioneer/Geneon did in 2001.
The current Manga UK DVD looks better but loses the 5.1 mix on the 2001 Dub in favour of 2.0 & the subs are still basically dubtitles. Please remember the 2001 dub was really closely based on the original Japanese dialogue so for you the 2011 DVD may not be all that bad. The 2011 UK DVD does offer Dolby Digital 5.1 (in place of the 2.0 Dolby Stereo Surround original theatrical audio). The Dubbed Akira Production Report from the classic Streamline Pictures dub released here on VHS and later on disc 2 of the Ultimate Collection DVD. Not a bad release if you are looking for the best LOOKING DVD transfer. The 2011 DVD is better but fails to impress me as a collector.
The BD Dolby True HD 5.1 Hypersonic Japanese audio 192khz/48bit (reproduced as a true 96/24 soundtrack presentation is the selling point for the upgrade to Blu-Ray and it is simply the greatest, clearest, expertly mixed and subtle emersive soundtrack ever created for a home release! Remember the dubtitles though! Shoji Yamashiro (Tsutomu ‘hashi) Has done it again! The BD is fantastic, he'd previously mixed the Pioneer/Geneon DTS Region 1 DVD version I own and it too was stunning!
The 2011 Manga UK DVD still disappoints. Madman (Region 4) offers the best options overall on an amazing single disc DVD (both dubs and better subs). ANY Pioneer/Geneon DVD OR Madman release will have the best available subtitles.
For DVD content buy the following: The Film - REGION 4 DVD OR BD (Madman). The Japanese Soundtrack - Region 1 DTS (Pioneer/Geneon). English Soundtrack but retaining the personal choice to switch - REGION 4 DVD OR BD (Madman). Extras - Basic Region 4/B (Madman) or fan/collector 2 disc Region 1 (Pioneer/Geneon). Subtitles - any release from Australia or the USA. JUST AVOID THE UK DVDs. Heck, the VHS is Better!!
Manga SHOULD have tried to create or licence content for a 3 disc collection with a feature DVD including Pioneer DD 5.1, Streamline DD 2.0 Dual Mono and Japanese DTS 5.1 with accurate subtitles for those of us who don't speak Japanese.
The R1 feature DVD had a capsule subtitle when the capsule appeared on-screen hitting the enter button would pause the movie and bring up a translation of any graffiti or signs. I'm just saying this would have been cool.
Most of the bonus disc features from the previous R1 double DVD would have been welcomed (I loved the AKIRA SOUND CLIP documentary on the creation of the score sadly missing from DVD regions 2 & 4).
They (MANGA UK/STARZ) could have brought together the best of previous R1 & 4 DVD releases to make up for a bare-bones Blu-Ray.
I'd would have recommended trying to buy the now rather expensive Honneamise/Bandai Region Free BD but if you are region B locked for BD order from Australia instead - you won't be disappointed.
OLD INFO with region coding details:
Akira Madman Entertainment/The AV Channel/Manga tripple audio track 1 disc Special Edition - Region 4 only. Cat No MANV5004 (13 November 2001).
Akira Pioneer/Geneon DTS DVD - Region 1 only Cat No: 11726 (03 December 2002). Single disc no bonus content. Japanese DTS 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (2001 dub), English Subtitles.
Akira Pioneer/Geneon 2 disc Special Edition - Region 1 only. Note: limited tin boxed version is identical, single disc version identical to SE D1. Geneon and Pioneer - same company different name. Pioneer Laser Disc Corporation or Pioneer LDC is as far as I know now known as Geneon Universal Entertainment Japan. All Akira Pioneer Geneon discs are Region 1 only. Tin 2 disc Cat No 11537 (17 July 2001). Plastic Box/slipcover 2 disc Cat No 11568 (July 24 2001). Amaray 1 Disc Cat No UNKNOWN (24 July 2001, Geneon Signature Series reissue 06 January 2004)
Akira Ultimate Edition Discs 1 & 2 Manga - Regions 2 & 7 (one of those bizarre reserved regions noted on wikipedia as - Reserved for future use. Found in use on protected screener copies of MPAA-related DVDs and "media copies" of pre-releases in Asia). Cat No MANG2012 (23 June 2003). Note: The Streamline Dub & Production report are 1.33:1 with no remastering AND have a Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack. Odd since the original sound format is 2 channel only (Front Left & Front Right) STEREO - Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono (no rear mono surround channel as you'd get in the original Japanese mix).
Manga Akira UK 2002 2 disc Limited Edition Disc 1 (main feature) - REGION FREE (All Regions 1-8). Cat No MANG2003 (18 March 2002).
Manga Akira UK 2002 2 disc Limited Edition Disc 2 (production report and trailers/extras) - Regions 1-6. Cat No MANG2003 (18 March 2002).
UPDATE for DVD disc only: MANGA UK Akira The Collector's Edition (Blu-Ray/DVD/32 page booklet LTD STEELBOOK of 10,000 copies) - DVD Region 2 Only (27 June 2011). Collection Cat No MANG5219 (DVD Cat No MANG5055).
The Blu-ray disc (Blu-ray Cat No MANGB8005) is reported as region B locked.
The 2011 UK DVD edition is NOT recommended to true fans but is OK for the casual viewer. Manga still use DUBTITLES for Region 2. The 2001 Pioneer/Geneon Region 1 and Madman Region 4 DVD versions have the best subtitles we are likely to get here in the west for non-Japanese language speakers. The dubtitles are not terrible though as the Pioneer re-dub was a close attempt at translation in English, but still...
Please Note: The televised version shown here in Japanese by the BBC (on BBC2) many years ago is the superior subtitled version in my opinion. Hunt it down or ask fellow fans if they have it. Better than dubtitles!! Also some do like the Island World Communications/Manga subtitled VHS.
As above [repeated] - The 2011 DVD both gains and loses marks in the sound department. This single DVD disc has only the Pionner dub (this time in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo surround) and gone is the 5.1 mix for the dub. The Japanese version is presented in both DD 2.0 & 5.1 options. Manga present the dubbed version of Akira: Production Report as an extra on the disc (created for the Streamline dub).
REMEMBER: The US Blu-Ray is reported as being Region Free or UNLOCKED (A, B & C). Consider this before buying YET ANOTHER inferior Manga UK release for our territory. Plus The Australian BD is automatically an option as it is Region B (the same as the UK).
I just checked my 2013 Madman BD. For Blu-ray collectors in the UK this is the one to buy!
All they did was change the Region code. No Madman logo or Australian trailers.
This is otherwise a direct port/copy of the Funimation 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray disc (which is now Region B coded rather than the American version that was locked to Region A). Absolutely no other differences between them.
This means you should be able to enjoy the Streamline dub in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo (Dolby Stereo Surround mix) rather than the Dual-Mono (front left & front right speakers only) or even worse 1.0 DD Mono we've put up with in the UK for the last 23 years!
The subtitling is the best we'll ever likely see on physical media. The English subs for the Japanese soundtrack now pretty much match the excellent Pioneer/Geneon version and actually incorporate the signs and graffiti translations as well - absolutely amazing!! No more English SDH Dubtitles for us!
The signs and graffiti text is automatically selected as a separate subtitle track when you play an English dubbed version so you don't miss a thing.
You should buy any previous UK DVD version to get the Production Report that has been omitted from the BD (I'd choose the 2003 double disc Ultimate Collection for its second disc), then you're sorted; you should have everything an Akira fan could ever need in their physical media collection.
Akira 25th Anniversary Edition BD/DVD 2 disc set Madman (Australia) Catalogue No: MMA1988S Released: 04 December 2013 Region Code (s): B Blu-ray; 4 (locked) DVD Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen (original theatrical ratio) Picture Format: 1080p 24fps AVC MPEG-4 Soundtrack(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2001 Pioneer Dub) English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo (1988 Streamline Dub in Dolby Stereo Surround) Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2009 Hypersonic Audio BD Remix) Subtitles: English Full (Japanese Literal Translation plus signs/graffiti); English signs/graffiti only
BD Bonus Features - Akira Sound Clip featurette (19:22) Director interview (29:11) Storyboard Collection [HD] (30:58) The Writing on the Wall English translation of graffiti [HD] 2 original trailers [HD] (3:11) 3 original commercials [HD] (1:22) Restoring Akira featurette (11:01) Glossary text of definitions for various terms used in the film 2013 US trailer [HD] (0:55) Also includes the booklet previously made available to UK fans in the DVD/BD Steelbook we got back in 2011.
UPC/EAN//APN 9322225199231 Note: The APN can be copied into eBay UK or Madman's website as a search term where it will direct you to any matching listings/product.
Akira: Production Report is not included on the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray but was made available in the UK on the following releases:
Owners of Akira on region 2 Manga UK DVD (2002, 2003 or 2011) will have this bonus feature already but will not have decent subtitles for the Japanese language soundtrack. The Region B Madman 2013 Blu-ray is really the only solution to the Dubtitle problem!! The Madman DVD is region 4 locked so I advise placing a UK disc with the Production Report on it in the box alongside the Blu-ray for completions sake.