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 2 February 2003
To call Akira a piece of 'classic' Manga would be a serious insult. This isn't just a piece of Manga history that has found its way into the hearts of millions - this is Manga incarnate. Without Akira it's very possible that us Westerners would never have got to see a single Manga film!
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. The film alone is well worth a purchase with its remastered sound and picture but the extras aren't quite as forthcoming as you might expect from such a cult piece of Manga. The second disc contains all of the goodies but you get the distinct feeling that everything could've fitted onto one disc.
Having said that, big fans of the film should not be disappointed by the 'Production Report'. Basically a making-of documentary, this runs for 50 minutes and includes an obscene amount of behind-the-scenes footage. You get to see the offices where Akira was made (an amazing feat!) and scenes from the film being sketched out. Not to mention interviews with the voice artists, real artists and director.
It's the rest of the second disc that really destroys the whole package. The gallery, although extensive, is fairly pointless and the 'create your own trailer' feature is pretty much a joke when put next to discs like Men In Black. However, Akira is still one amazing piece of work and this is one of those cases where you should buy regardless of the extras. Even the non-Manga types usually enjoy Akira and this DVD is sure to win over many more to the ways of Japanese animation. Buy it now, sit back and enjoy the holocaust.
on 1 February 2002
Neo-Tokyo: thirty-one years after a horrific release of energy during World War III destroyed the original city, this bustling, degenerate mteropolis has sprung up in it's stead. Citizens riot in the streets, government corruption runs rampant, and behind it all, the messianic force known as Akira watches and waits...
The characters of Kaneda and Tetsuo are the driving force behind "Akira"- their tentative friendship/ rivalry providing the drama which fuels the storyline, and what a storyline it is.
Reviewing the movie without revealing any spoilers would be next to impossible, so I'll keep it simple- get this DVD. Although over a decade old, the animation remains unequalled by anything released since. The music, by Soji Yamashiro, is a revolution, and the English dub has to be heard to be believed. It really is that good,and it's a damn sight better than the old one, which messed up a huge amount of critical lines of dialogue.
Crisp DVD visuals and audio will only serve to heighten this incredible experience. Buy it, and see for yourself...
on 21 February 2004
Well what can i say about Akira that hasn't already written. It really is one of the greatest films ever made. I remember when it first appeared as part of the inital wave of anime released by Manga Video back in the mid nineties and i absolutley loved it. The dubbing was ok compared to a lot of other early efforts, but its the storyline and animation that really pull you in.
The film is set in 2019, thirty years after a secret weapons project during World War 3 destroyed Tokyo and centres around the friendship between two gang members, Kaneda and Tetsuo. After Tetsuo is involved in a bike accident with an escaped Military test subject, he is then captured and experimented on to give him powerful psychic abilities. Unfortunately his powers get out of control and a new threat looms on the horizon for Neo Tokyo.
In 2002 they released a version of Akira on DVD, this is what the fans had been waiting for for long enough. It looked beautiful it has to be said, and the remastered sound is a feast on the ears, but what happened with the dubbing. All those classic lines had now been repleaced. Growing up with the original dub i was so dissappointed that they had done this, for me it had ruined an already perfect film. Fair enough the new dub is probably a bit closer, and the syncing is better but it just wasn't akira anymore.
And now we have the 'Ultimate Collection'. Finally they've put the original dub on to dvd but have left it in its original state, and you can clearly see the difference in quality between it and the remastered version. And shame on Manga Video, the first disc is the disc from the 2 DVD version from 2002, they couldn't be bothered to do a completely new package. Very disappointing.
Having said that if you're new to Manga and Akira then get this version as its got everything you could ever want to know about one of the greatest films ever made.
Any chance of a remastered version of the original dub then Manga Video. Then i'll be happy.
on 16 April 2002
Menu: A+ Chapter Selection: A+ Contents: A
Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+
English 5.1 or 2.0 & Japanese 2.0
English, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish subtitles
Original Akira trailer
Making of Akira
Make your own trailer
Akira Stickers in box
July 16 1988. Tokyo is completely destroyed by a new type of bomb. This triggers World War III and the planet is devastated. In the period of reconstruction, neo-Tokyo is constructed on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.
2019 - 31 years after the devastation. Although preparing for the Olympics in the year 2020, neo-Tokyo is in a state of crisis; society is close to collapse in spite of apparent prosperity. Unemployment has increased, subversive activities are widespread. An underground network for drug traffic has been established. Neo-religions flourish. Young people like Kaneda and his friends at vocational school find an outlet through motorbikes. Every night they cruise neo-Tokyo on their supped-up 'choppers'.
Now that Akira has been re-released a lot of improvements have been made.
The menu is of excellent quality from the ease of the interface to the animation that occurs when moving between the menus.
The Chapter selection is of excellent quality because instead of having text to describe the scene, small clips are used. Thereby making it easier to know which scene you are choosing.
The Audio and the Video are of specific excellence because both have been redone where the audio is re-dubbed and re-mastered with a new team of actors, as well as the video being re-mastered. By doing all this, the movie has been truly and thoroughly improved over the last release and this makes for a more enjoyable movie.
As for the Extras there is a vast selection going from a Photo Gallery, Production, a Quiz to creating you own Akira trailer from a selection of clips from the movie.
So after all that has been said, I would definitely recommend this new and improved Akira for people that have seen it previously as well as people that have not seen it yet, you won't be disappointed.
on 11 April 2007
not only the best anime i have ever seen, but one of the best films. absolutely brilliant. just finished watching it and everything about it was great. the characters, the animation, the storyline- which is complicated, but no more than the next sci-fi film. the soundtrack was also brilliant, better than the usually unnavoidable sickly score to more animes around, and what is more is in Akira the lack of soundtrack in key scenes adds weight, very clever.
im not a hardcore anime fan, but i know a good one when i see it and this was excellent. weaknesses...well the character kei is a bit underdeveloped, and there are a few mystery minor characters but aside from that it was awesome. highly recomended but not for those looking for a bit of light entertainment or a "cartoon".
on 24 August 2005
Akira is, without doubt, one of the most important anime to reach western shores. Almost singlehandedly it began the landslide of Japanese animation that fans loved and the critics couldn't understand.
The film is close to 20 years old and yet the animation makes many of todays animated films seem incredibly simplistic. It stands up even to modern classics such as Hayao Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away' and any of Disney's films; not bad considering it was hand animated for the most part!
The soundtrack too is particularly unique and haunting.
Many people find the storyline of Akira confusing. I found that it becomes that bit clearer every time you watch it. At the most basic level, it is Katsuhiro Otomo's vision of post world war 2 Japan taken to extremes. The action scenes, particularly the biker battle, are absolutely second to none. The whole film is breathtaking and is rightly revered as one of the best animated films of all time.
So why only 4 stars? Well, although the film is astounding Manga Entertainment have done their usual trick of going cheap when it comes to releasing a decent DVD set.
The box set is a simple cardboard outercase containing 2 standard plastic dvd boxes. Both have different covers. So, no nice display case for this 'ultimate' collection then? 'fraid not.
The first disc contains the digitally remastered edition of the film with a new english dub and the original japanese audio with english subtitles (and also a lot of other subtitled languages...including 'Finish'...yes, their should be another 'n' in there somewhere...cheap, cheap, cheap!). It is also in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen... This is the good disc.
Disc 2 has the original version of Akira with only the original dub...why you would want to watch an inferior quality dubbed version is beyond me...however, it does include the fairly interesting Akira Production Report (which is good for an insight into the film) but even this was available on the special edition VHS version YEARS ago. This disc is 4:3 full screen...*sigh*. Oh, also included are Manga previews. Joy.
Dont let this put you off buying the film as Akira is a joy to watch again and again. it's just a shame that one of the biggest names in Western anime distribution cannot see fit to do the film justice in what is supposed to be the 'ultimate' collection.
on 11 March 2002
Akira is now over ten years old, but its ground-breaking cel animation visuals are still absolutely astonishing. The storyline is complicated to say the least and requires several viewing occasions to fully understand and appreciate!
The film centres around two main characters, Tetsuo and Kaneda when their motorcycle gang encounters a military operation to re-capture an escaped experimental "human". But in doing so they capture Tetsuo and begin to conduct experiments on him - to discover that he has a similar psychic ability to that of "Akira". Tetsuo, in a state of rage, then uses his newly founded powers to seek out revenge and to find "Akira".
This was the film that made the world stand up and take notice of Anime - and quite rightly so. Still a classic after over a decade!
on 8 March 2006
First of all Akira is a must own film. It is one of my favourite films and, Anime fan or not, you should own this film. My low rating for this 'Ultimate Collection' is because it is a lazy and cheap offering from 'Manga Entertainment'. It contains both the new remastered version which has been redubbed, this time more accuratlely translated from the screenplay, and also the original version in full screen stereo (why you'd want to watch this version is beyond me). The only special feature it has is the original production report.
Those looking for the definitive release of Akira should go for the 'Geneon' Region 1 'Special Edition'. It features the remastered version and plenty of special features on 2 discs. This version is available new on many sites that sell region 1 DVD's.