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200 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funimation 25th Anniversary Blu-ray review
Since Amazon condenses the reviews of multiple formats into one pile, I hope this one stands out. It covers the new 25th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Funimation, NOT Bandai'a 2009 Blu-ray or one of the many earlier DVD releases. I was able to get an advance copy from Funimation and also used it to write a separate full-length review of this title, listed...
Published 10 months ago by Randall F. Miller III

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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Animation. Bad Writing.
First released in 1988 to much acclaim, "Akira" is still considered to be a classic among Japanese anime films and might be considered an early example of cyberpunk cinema as well. The film is based on the comic books of the same name by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also directed the film. "Akira" depicts a post-apocalyptic Tokyo of 2019 that is plagued with...
Published on October 2, 2003 by mirasreviews


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200 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funimation 25th Anniversary Blu-ray review, October 30, 2013
Since Amazon condenses the reviews of multiple formats into one pile, I hope this one stands out. It covers the new 25th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Funimation, NOT Bandai'a 2009 Blu-ray or one of the many earlier DVD releases. I was able to get an advance copy from Funimation and also used it to write a separate full-length review of this title, listed below.

"Akira" still holds up perfectly well after 25 years. The film condenses a LOT of material into two hours; not surprising, since writer/director Katsuhiro Otomo's long-running manga series was still being written after its 1988 release. This epic, violent, mind-melting slice of animated history is chock full of terrific visuals, an amazing soundtrack and, of course, the sci-fi tinged story that introduced many to Kaneda, Tetsuo and company. Those new to the film will find it an exhausting experience, but don't give up: the eye candy will suck you in, but there's a real heart and soul to the story that has made countless fans worldwide return to "Akira" again and again. It's practically the grandfather of modern anime.

But that's not what most people want to know; they're probably just curious how this Blu-ray stacks up to previous releases (pretty well, as it turns out). Video quality is ever-so-slightly better than Bandai's 2009 Blu-ray: the image is no longer "picture-boxed" (thin black bars on all four sides) and the colors appear more well-defined and evenly saturated. It's the same 2001 master, so don't expect a night-and-day difference...but it's there. On the audio front, we get two excellent DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio versions of the original Japanese track and the 2001 Pioneer English dub, as well as a new DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio version of the older 1998 Streamline English dub. The choice of both English dubs is a nice touch, as I'd imagine that many long-time fans (including myself) have a nostalgic connection to the older one. English subtitles are included for translation purposes only. No dubtitles!

The bonus features, by and large, are similar to Pioneer's 2001 Special Edition DVD...which itself borrowed plenty of extras from the company's older Laserdisc release. Two are missing, however: the excellent "Akira Production Report" (a vintage behind-the-scenes documentary) and a gallery of promotional images. Otherwise, it's pretty much business as usual, but die-hard fans might still want to hold on to those Special Edition DVDs.

So essentially, we get a slight visual upgrade, the addition of Streamline's 1988 English dub and many (but not all) of the vintage extras not included on Bandai's 2009 Blu-ray. Funimation's 25th Anniversary Edition is definitely worth a purchase if you don't own "Akira" on Blu-ray yet, but those that do might not want to bother.

For more details, please check out my full-length review at: [...]
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274 of 307 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AKIRA on Blu-ray is the first film (animated or live) to be featured in 192kHz audio! Don't throw away your DVD's just yet!, February 12, 2009
This review is from: Akira [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
[PLEASE NOTE: THERE WERE TWO BLU-RAY RELEASES FOR "AKIRA", THE BANDAI BLU-RAY REVIEW OF 2009 and THE FUNIMATION "AKIRA: 25TH ANNIVERSARY" RELEASE OF 2013. I AM GOING TO INCLUDE BOTH ON THIS REVIEW BECAUSE AMAZON DOESN'T ALLOW FOR SEPARATE REVIEWS]

[THE BANDAI "AKIRA" BLU-RAY REVIEW]

"AKIRA", the 1988 anime film that became the masterpiece of mangaka and director Katsuhiro Otomo.

My first viewing of "AKIRA" was back in 1993. I have to be truthful, it was one of those films that I had to watch several times because I felt I was missing something integral. Each time I watched the film, there was always something new that I picked up and for anyone who has seen this animated film, just how much was put into the animation, the detail for an animated film.

In 1988, Disney had "Oliver & Friends" and being touted as the first animation to utilize hand drawn art and computerized graphics and as the film incorporated some darkness that may scare the kiddies, in Japan, "AKIRA" was a film that would set records in the Summer and eventually get a limited release in theaters.

The film would surprise and shock people because this was not a children's animation, this was geared for adults. And did it look awesome at that time!

Flash forward over 20-years later for the Blu-ray release!

VIDEO & AUDIO:

For one, the film is now in 1080p and 16×9. Having seen this film evolve with each release from the VHS to LaserDisc and then DVD and now Blu-ray, for a film created back in 1988, "AKIRA" just looked amazing.

From the action scenes and just watching it on a large screen, I was amazed of how great it looked. Again, this is a 1988 release and I compared it to Disney's "Oliver & Company" which was remastered and recently released on DVD
. But for an animation of that time, it looked like an animation of that time. "AKIRA" looked fantastic!

The colors were vibrant, I swear I was noticing background art from the film for the first time and that's considering that I watched this film probably two dozen times already.

As for audio, this is where Bandai Entertainment has really gone out of their way to create a top-notch product. Being audiophiles themselves, the full capacity of the Blu-ray disc was used for the audio. "AKIRA" is the first film on Blu-ray that is released in 192 kHz/24-bit in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound. The highest level of sound quality attainable right now on contemporary media.

CD's are sampled in 44.1 kHz and reproduces at 20 kHz. This Blu-ray is sampled in 192 kHz and reproduces at 96 kHz. CD's are 16-bit, this Blu-ray Disc, the audio is 24-bit. The original soundtrack of "AKIRA" was originally recorded as a master tape that contained frequencies up to 100 kHz and so, with Blu-ray technology, this soundtrack on the Blu-ray is how the composer intended for people to listen to it.

With that being said, the audio of "AKIRA" is just phenomenal. From the music and the taiko drums, the the various sound effects of the motorcycles to the crowds that are protesting. The film just comes alive with this soundtrack on Blu-ray and really, was floored by the outstanding quality.

I watched both Japanese and audio soundtracks. A few things I need to let people know is when you see the menu being offered in Japanese or English, if you select Japanese, you get four choices of audio. If you select English, you get only three selections (Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1ch track is not on the English selection but the Japanese menu selection) of audio but I'm sure that most fans will be listening to the Dolby TrueHD tracks.

Also, another note is that this release features the Pioneer 2001 English audio dub and not the 1991 Streamline dub. Having been subjugated to the Streamline English dub which was terrible in my opinion, this Pioneer dub is more to my liking.

With that being said, with the Blu-ray disc focusing so much on audio quality and using the Blu-ray disc for that purpose, that would mean that special features that fans were accustomed to on the VHS or DVD release will not get on the Blu-ray disc, so don't toss your DVD's out just yet.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The Blu-ray disc was utilized completely for audio, thus there is not much room to put anything else. Included are the two teaser trailers, the TV commercial, two trailers, storyboards (Still images) and a 32-page color booklet.

The 32-page color booklet features 16-pages that go into the science behind the creation of the audio for "AKIRA" and "Hypersonic" which is "a medium that allows for the expression of something that was never possible for conventional sound limited to 20 kHz". Also, an "Interview with Katsuhiro Otomo", "The Effect Animation That Made AKIRA Shine" and more.

So, missing are the "Production Report (The Making of Akira)", "Sound Clip (a documentary of the creation of the soundtrack), director's interview and the documentary on the Akira restoration that were included on the DVD. So, don't throw away your black tin DVD special edition just yet.

The Blu-ray case comes with a slipcase (front cover shown above and rear-side features the image below) and according to Bandai Entertainment, the slipcase and the 32-page booklet are part of the first press only.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"AKIRA" will always be regarded as one of the top animated films of all time. It set a precedence in animation quality in the late 80's and the 90's due to its detailed scenery, the vocal dub matching the lips ("AKIRA" was the first anime production featuring voice acting done before the animation was completed) and utilized over 160,000+ animated cels in order to achieve the fluid motion throughout the film. Again, this was animation geared for adults and has become a classic, must-own animated film.

I have to admit that having watched the film so many times, by the time the DVD came out, I think I was burned out on "AKIRA". So, watching it nearly eight years later on Blu-ray and hearing the audio really bringing the film to life.

It's hard to explain but having watched this film nearly two dozens times, this was the first time that I actually watched and thoroughly enjoyed the film. I was excited because of how much life the TrueHD audio brought into the animation. Just sitting down and hearing the taiko drums, the motorcycles revving, the people talking and to hear the overall soundtrack, it made a big difference for me watching it now than any of those times watching it before.

I was amazed by the vibrancy of the colors of the film, but I admit that I was waiting for the dust and the scratches and to my surprise, there were none. They cleaned this film up pretty good. So, aside from the much talked about audio, the video is no slouch either.

Last, I know that the direction of the Blu-ray in terms of going for superior audio quality is exciting for the audiophile but for those who want the special features that were featured on the DVD or fans of the original Streamline dub have a valid argument for them wanting inclusion of those features. Personally, I love releases that managed to include as many features as possible but in this case, having something unprecedented for a film and getting superior audio quality, it may not matter to casual viewers/listeners but I totally agree with the Japanese reviewers, this new audio makes a big difference when you view this film on Blu-ray.

So, superior audio quality versus older special features that probably would be in regular 480p anyway, personally I would rather go with the superior audio quality. Again, the production report has been offered on VHS and DVD already (and the DVD release of "AKIRA" was just too cool to own and by no means will I ever toss that release out).

What has made me even more excited is that the process invested in order to create this 192 kHZ process on "AKIRA" can hopefully now be used on other Blu-ray releases. "Mobile Suite Gundam" movies on Blu-ray anyone? How about those films in 192 kHZ, 24-bit ala Dolby TrueHD. That would be awesome!

So, "AKIRA" has opened up possibilities for Bandai Entertainment and overall, although not loaded with special features, the improved audio and video quality can't be ignored. Again, "AKIRA" belonged on Blu-ray and it's a solid release.

What can I say? "AKIRA" on Blu-ray has definitely made me excited for this film all over again. An incredible Blu-ray release that is simply a must-own!

================================================================
[THE FUNIMATION 2013 "AKIRA: 25TH ANNIVERSARY" BLU-RAY REVIEW]:

VIDEO:

"Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Because it's pretty much the same remastering that was done for the Blu-ray release, not much was done in the actual remastering for the FUNimation release.

My comments for the Bandai 2009 Blu-ray release has not changed in 2013:

The colors for the film remain vibrant, I swear I was noticing background art from the film for the first time and that's considering that I watched this film probably two dozen times already.

Picture quality retains its grain and also there are white specks, so one should know that the picture quality is not pristine. As for the differences, I felt that the Bandai version had a bit of DNR used because the FUNimation tend to have a bit more grain.

AUDIO:

The audio is the same as the Bandai 2009 Blu-ray release with one exception, in addition to the Pioneer 2001 English dub, the original 1988 Streamline dub is now included. So, for those who complained about the original English dub not being included, FUNimation's "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" brings it back.

This is what I wrote back in 2009 in regards to the "Akira" lossless soundtrack:

Being audiophiles themselves, the full capacity of the Blu-ray disc was used for the audio. "AKIRA" is the first film on Blu-ray that is released in 192 kHz/24-bit in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound. The highest level of sound quality attainable right now on contemporary media.

CD's are sampled in 44.1 kHz and reproduces at 20 kHz. This Blu-ray is sampled in 192 kHz and reproduces at 96 kHz. CD's are 16-bit, this Blu-ray Disc, the audio is 24-bit. The original soundtrack of "AKIRA" was originally recorded as a master tape that contained frequencies up to 100 kHz and so, with Blu-ray technology, this soundtrack on the Blu-ray is how the composer intended for people to listen to it.

With that being said, the audio of "AKIRA" is just phenomenal. From the music and the taiko drums, the the various sound effects of the motorcycles to the crowds that are protesting. The film just comes alive with this soundtrack on Blu-ray and really, was floored by the outstanding quality.

With that being said, the 2013 FUNimation "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" features the 2001 the Japanese soundtrack in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (192 kHz), the English dub 2001 soundtrack in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (96 kHz) which is an improvement over the Bandai Blu-ray release which was 48 kHz and the 1988 Streamline English dub in Dolby Digital 2.0 in 96 kHz.

With that being said, the audio of "AKIRA" is just phenomenal. From the music and the taiko drums, the the various sound effects of the motorcycles to the crowds that are protesting. The film just comes alive with this soundtrack on Blu-ray and really, was floored by the outstanding quality. There is a noticeable difference for audiophiles when it comes to the Japanese lossless soundtrack and the English soundtrack in terms of clarity but the English version also adds a bit more sound effects as well.

For example, the helicopter scene in 16:30. You can hear the clarity of the Japanese lossless soundtrack but on the English soundtrack, you hear a bit more in terms of other sounds and the way the audio moves from one surround channel to the other.

And for those who have badly wanted the old school Streamline dub on Blu-ray, fortunately the "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" now includes it!

For those wanting the original Japanese LPCM soundtrack that was on the Bandai Blu-ray release, this is not included in the FUNimation 2013 Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" comes with the following special features:

Akira Sound Clip (1988) - (19:21) The following is the 1988 Akira Soundclip by Geinoh Yamashiro Gumi featuring optional English narration. Featuring "Music for Akira", "Kaneda's Theme", "Exodus", "Ethnic Meets Hi-Tech", "Awakening", "Mutation" and "Requiem".
Director Interview - (29:10) The original director's interview featurette with Katsuhiro Otomo.
Storyboard Collection - (30:57) Featuring a storyboard collection accompanied by the music from the "Akira" soundtrack.
The Writing on the Wall - A translation on the graffiti featured throughout the film.
Restoring Akira - (11:00) Featuring a featurette on "restoring Akira" in regards to picture, English voice over and English 5.1 audio mix taken from the original 2001 DVD release.
Original Trailers - (3:11) The original Japanese theatrical trailers for "Akira".
Original Commercials - (1:22) The original Japanese commercials for "Akira".
U.S. Trailer - (:55) The 2013 trailer for "Akira: 25th Anniversary".
Glossary - Glossary of terms (in text) featured in "Akira".

EXTRAS:

"Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

JUDGMENT CALL:

While those who own the 2009 Bandai Blu-ray release may not see a need to upgrade to this "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition", those wanting a version with the original 1988 Streamline English dub and Japanese special features will want to purchase this FUNimation version. Also, there is a slight difference when it comes to the picture quality as the Bandai version appeared to use a bit of DNR and the FUNimation version tends to have more grain. The other difference is audio as the 2001 English dub receives a 96 kHz version as opposed to the Bandai 48 kHz version.

Overall, FUNimation's Blu-ray release of "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" is an upgrade over its 2009 Blu-ray release. For videophiles who dislike DNR, the FUNimation release has the train, for those wanting the 1988 Streamline Dub, the FUNimation Blu-ray release has that and a 96 kHz version of the 2001 English Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The Bandai release has a booklet, slipcase and an LPCM soundtrack of "Akira" and some may prefer the version with DNR. And this release also includes both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film as well.

So, I do feel that FUNimation Blu-ray of "Akira" is an improvement over the 2009 Bandai Blu-ray release in content, PQ and AQ. Unfortunately, the 48-minute "Akira Production Report" was not included on this Blu-ray release, which is a little disappointing as I was hoping it would be included on the 25th anniversary release. So, for those who own the Pioneer 2001 DVD release, you'll still want to keep that one in your collection.

But for anyone who is an anime fan and a fan of "Akira", FUNimation's 2013 Blu-ray release of "Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition" is an improvement over the 2009 Bandai Blu-ray release and is definitely recommended!
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86 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Akira, November 22, 2001
This review is from: Akira (DVD)
Akira is one of those movies that you never forget. The images are extremely powerful and graphic, so that they stick with you long after the movie is over. Despite its sometimes-confusing plot line, this movie is a wonderfully written, chilling look into the future, and into humanity as a whole. The movie more or less centers around a teenage biker gang in Neo-Tokyo, thirty-years after World War III. The main characters, Kaneda and Tetsuo, are two childhood friends who are constantly in competition with each other (Tetsuo being the weaker, taunted one.) Regardless, Tetsuo still looks up to Kaneda. As the introduction moves out of the chase scene, an interesting encounter with an odd looking child (who awakens the physic abilities lying dormant within Tetsuo's mind) truly begins the movie.
The animation quality in this movie is almost enough of a reason to buy it. The detail is incredible, umparalled even by Disney?s standards. No one background or setting is used twice, and the environment is in constant change, be it blinking lights or a person exiting a random building. Oddly enough, the Bladerunner-esque buildings throughout the movie also help to establish the feeling of urgency, and the sensation of teetering on the edge of something great, something that we cannot possibly understand. The characters also move in a realistic, smooth motion, something that is missing from many anime television shows, like Pokemon or Digimon.
The music in this movie is also an aspect that really stands out, with a sound all its own. With this new DVD cleanup, you can hear every bell, whistle and drum beat. It sounds more Japanese than most animes out there, and that is not a bad thing. Every single song fits the actions incredibly well, from the haunting Requiem at the end, to the oddly infectious Japanese drums in Kaneda, heard during the motorcycle chase scene and credits of the movie. Hats off to Shoji Yamashiro.
The voice acting is good, but not great. I feel that the original dubbing job used voice actors much better suited to their animated counterparts. For example, Kaneda's original voice actor fit his attitude well, as his voice had the same inflection and as a teenage boy's does. The new voice actor, however, sounds like an adult trying to speak like a teenager. Tetsuo?s voice sometimes sounds a little off too, as the inflection in his words do not always coincide with the action on screen There is no mention of the original script or dub however, but there is a small interview with the English voice actors of Kaneda, Tetsuo, and Kei.
The extras on this DVD are excellent, with detailed information on how the music was created, the voice actors of both the English and Japanese scripts, and it also holds about 4,500 stills from the movie and the entire movie's storyboard. The menus are easy to follow and understand, and contain colorful backgrounds with music-sound bites from the movie.
Overall, this DVD is a must have for any Sci-fi or animation fan. It shows the best of what anime has to offer. You will never forget the magnificent story, or the unforgettable characters that make this movie a classic, inside and outside of anime.
Remember though, this movie is NOT for young children and the squeamish. If your child is under the age of fifteen, or if you do not like the sight of blood and body parts, the movie is probably not for you.
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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Falls Down, December 1, 2002
This review is from: Akira (Widescreen) (DVD)
Akira is most frequently designated as one of the seminal anime films, like 'Ghost in the Shell,' which have done much to define the potential of the Japanese genre. By the making of this film, 'Akira' was already as very popular manga (by Katsuhiro Otomo). Its theme is one that recurs frequently in anime, the good and the bad of human 'evolution.'
Neo Tokyo is Tokyo reborn on the ashes of the devastation of the next world war. Set in 2019, the city is already large, crowded, and apparently thriving. Yet, as you look at the details of this superbly animated film, it becomes obvious that something is seriously wrong. Discontent has fueled a rising level of social violent, motorcycle gangs make war on the streets, and if one listens carefully, one hears rumors about 'Akira, a savior who wields tremendous powers.
Kanada and Tetsuo are bike gangers, friends since childhood. When a conflict with the clown gang turns ultra-rough, Tetsuo is injured, just as the appearance of a child-like stranger brings the army down on everyone. Tetsuo is carted off to a secret facility where the 'examinations' trigger the development of mental powers. Enraged by years of powerlessness, and fury at his captors Tetsuo uses his powers to search for Akira, leaving a massive trail of destruction through Neo Tokyo.
Kanada, the authorities, and a mysterious group of children struggle to prevent the impending apocalypse, but it is clear from the beginning that nothing will be left unchanged in a demonstration of the risks of granting powers to those who are not ready for them
'Akira' is an example of the power of animation, so finely grained that, wherever the eye rests, there is something to consider. While it still relies on non-stop action to carry it through, the characters, drawn from the dark side of the city are equally vivid. Typical of anime, the film drops the viewer into a whirlwind with little or no preparation, but I don't really think the plot of the film is particularly hard to understand. One simply needs to ride with the action, and things gradually become clear.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS is the way anime should be presented on the PSP, October 15, 2005
By 
Jim M. Hastings-trew (Saskatoon, SK Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Akira [UMD for PSP] (UMD for PSP)
I have a small collection of movies in UMD format, and I try to collect any anime releases that come out in that format. Some of the releases are disappointing. For example, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll (both Manga releases) have no extra features - no choice of audio track, no subtitles, rudimentary menus, and and overall "soft" image quality. Ninja Scroll is also presented in the controversial "wide screen" version even though the original film was in a 4:3 aspect ratio. All in all, Manga has given short shrift to the UMD format, bringing out barely adequate releases.

Geneon, on the other hand, has produced superior products in their UMD releases. Akira and Appleseed (both Geneon releases) act and feel like their big brother DVDs. Interesting menus, audio tracks in both the original Japanese and English, and English subtitles. Picture quality is razor sharp, the way it should be for the PSP's superior screen.

The Akira UMD has very good stereo imaging, and a crisp image. If you are a fan of this landmark anime you will be pleased by the excellent presentation that Geneon has given it in the UMD format.
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87 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grand Exalted Poobah of anime deserves it's praise, May 15, 2001
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"Akira" is one of those exceptional moments when an art form transcends itself and becomes something greater. It is one of the few anime's to be viewed by the "mainstream." It defines animation in the way that "Watchmen" defines comic books, "The Empire Strikes Back" defines science fiction, or "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" defines wuxia, as something to strive for and not quite achieve. It is a watermark.
That's some pretty flowery praise, but "Akira" deserves it. Inside this movie is some of the best, most crisp and exiting animation ever captured on film. There are so many stunning moments (the battle with the clowns, the sewer race, Tetsuo's battle with the army, Kaneda's race to save his friend, the background of Neo-Tokyo) backed up with an exceptional soundtrack that blends techno music with traditional Japanese styles. The story line is traditional anime, with an explosive mixture of youth and technology juxtaposed with the traditional need to impose order on chaos. The characters are both righteous and stupid, heroic and annoying, competent and naive. Ah heck, just watch it!
Seeing "Akira" get this collector's edition DVD treatment is like seeing the Mona Lisa get her own room at the Louvre. All you can say is "it's about time."
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...It's like an over ripe fruit thats begun to stink...", June 9, 2001
By 
jdn127 "section22" (Canyon Country, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Don't be fooled, the above quote is for the true Akira fans out there ; )
I must say, it's about time that this movie makes it's way to DVD. This is one reason I got a player so I could own this on DVD, rather than my chewed up old VHS copy I've had since the movie was available in the late 80's. I'm sorry to hear that the original dialogue will not be included in this release, ....To all those that have never gotten the chance to see this film, do your self a favor and buy it, you wont regret it. If it doesn't make much sense, watch it again, if that doesn't work, read the preceding line. If you want to learn more about this fantastic story, look for the newly published graphic novels, you will learn more about the characters than two hours could ever permit. Find out what Akira really is.
Keep in mind, Akira was the most expensive movie ever made for it's time, using state-of-the-art animation and computer graphics, putting this movie over the top for it's original release date and setting the standard for the next generation of anime, with titles like "Princess Mononoke". In the end, I will be sure to be the first on my block to own this DVD, just like I did with the VHS version so many years ago, it's worth it, it's that good...
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animation For Adults, May 2, 2001
By 
Phrodoe "Child Of The Kindly Midwest" (Another day older and deeper in debt...) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Akira [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Let me clarify that: I am not talking about the soft-core porno-violence that defines a lot of modern anime and manga. Rather, I'm speaking to the idea that Akira is a mature, intelligent film, written, animated and meant for mature, intelligent audiences -- the sort of people who understand that you have to eat your veggies before you get to have your ice cream. Akira is a substantial "meal" of a film, and it makes practically every other animated film (the Disney studio's "product" films in particular) seem about as nutritious as a candy bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just that sometimes you want a little bit more than bad "feel-good" rewrites of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Victor Hugo, you know what I mean? Akira serves that need quite well. Set in 21st-century Neo-Tokyo, "31 years after World War III", the film is a twisting, turning, dark and feverish science-fantasy story. The characters are intelligently-created, the symbolism and subtext are thought-provoking but not intrusive; the story is absolutely riveting; and the animation itself is some of the best (if not the best) I've ever seen.
One of the best things about Akira is that it is not simplistic in terms of story -- plots and subplots abound here, not so much so as to confuse an attentive viewer, but definitely far more complex than 99% of the other animated films out there. On one side we have the gang of biker punks led by Kaneda and Yamagata, and the sensitive depiction of Kaneda's abrasive/protective relationship with young Tetsuo, whose tortured heart and love/hate for Kaneda radiate from every frame he's in. On the other side is the nameless Colonel (whose mannerisms and speech suggest the legendary Toshiro Mifune, and I don't think that's accidental), in charge of Neo-Tokyo security, head of the secret "Akira" project, embroiled in the City Council's endless backbiting and politicking. There are also saboteur rebels, traitors on the Council, and three "children", holdovers from the first Akira project, who hold the key to the entire film.
The movie unfolds beautifully, combining action, character and theme so subtly, there are times you hardly notice it being done -- another sign that this is not your average animation. From the dramatic yet mysterious opening, to the enthralling battle between Kaneda's gang and the villanous "Clowns", your attention is captured -- not to mention your imagination. Then a subplot involving rebels Kei and Ryu, and one of the child-humanoids, is slowly introduced, then suddenly interwoven with Tetsuo's story -- and if you haven't already been hooked, you will be. The story, which covers all its bases quite well, then goes on to involve Kaneda's search for his missing friend with Kei and Ryu's plot to kidnap one of the Akira test subjects; also interwoven are the three children with Tetsuo's newly-engineered psychic abilities. He rapidly becomes addicted to them, then corrupted by them; his already-unstable personality disintegrates and he goes mad. (A key illustration of this comes late in the film: Tetsuo's mechanical arm, which he fashions with his powers after losing his flesh-and-blood limb. The filmmakers are making the point here that Tetsuo is losing his humanity, becoming a thing instead of a person. It's a bit of symbolism which in other hands would be clumsy and obvious, but which here works so well and seamlessly you absorb it without noticing.) As the apocalyptic ending comes about, the characters and stories have all become intertwined, and nothing is left forgotten or unclear -- although it may take you two or three viewings to get the full effect. And when Akira finally emerges, after haunting the entire film like a Japanese Rebecca (not an inapt analogy, by the way, as Tetsuo continually is compared to the departed Akira), the moment is, in terms of what has gone before, the linchpin of the entire film.
A few final notes: Much has been made by critics of this film's high violence content -- if you want my honest opinion, they're full of it. Akira is no more violent than a film like Predator or Dawn of the Dead; it's just that, as Americans raised on the cartoons-are-for-kids notion (implanted in our minds mostly by Disney and Saturday morning television), we are unused to seeing such a high level of violent action in animation. But in Japan and Europe, where animation and cartooning are taken seriously as an art form, stuff like this is meant for adults, not kids. My point being, once again, that this is not a cutesy-pie kids flick, and you should not, repeat NOT, allow your kids to watch it until and unless they're teenagers (i.e. 17 or 18!). My other note is that Akira is based on the manga (magazine or "comic book") of the same name, translated versions of which are available at most specialty comic book stores. If you think Akira is cool, get some of the mangas to find out what happens next!
Finally, I want to mention that the above review is based on the Special Subtitled Edition of Akira, which is hard but not impossible to find. Unlike the dubbed version, which at best gives you a fair approximation of the original script (in much the same way as a hamburger approximates a t-bone steak), the subtitled version (the one screened at film festivals) provides a much clearer view of the complex plot, subplots, and characters -- in particular the Colonel, the Akira children, and their various motivations. ...Remain in Light -- Phrodoe.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is no "Dragon Ball Z"..., August 18, 2001
By 
"rsmon77" (Mission, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Akira (DVD)
"Akira" has a special place in my teenage years, seeing as it was my introduction to adult Japanese animation. While re-watching the film on the new special edition DVD, I remember why I enjoyed it in the first place. While it's not a word-by-word translation of the comic from which it was based (if it was, we would be talking about "Akira" the trilogy, not "Akira" the movie), it's a solid piece of animation that holds up to today's computer generated epics. Seeing the detailed animation (particularly with the Tetsuo "monster", still an image that's hard to shake out of my system) and realizing it's only been 13 or so years since it's been released is quite amazing, as how it was all done with traditional cel animation. The picture and sound on this transfer was incredible, and I found the "capsule option" for reading the Japanese text helpful (being as how I'm not fluent in Japanese to begin with). I'm still wading through the extra features on this special edition (particularly the production materials, which has an IMMENSE amount of stills and images from the movie and comic) and I've had this thing for some time now. Anyway, this should be a part of any hard core Anime lovers' collection, and is definitely one of the best animated features of our time.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Anime Titles to Date., November 19, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Akira (DVD)
Akira is one of those movies that you never forget. The images are extremely powerful and graphic, so that they stick with you long after the movie is over. Despite its sometimes-confusing plot line, this movie is a wonderfully written, chilling look into the future, and into humanity as a whole. The movie more or less centers around a teenage biker gang in Neo-Tokyo, thirty-years after World War III. The main characters, Kaneda and Tetsuo, are two childhood friends who are constantly in competition with each other (Tetsuo being the weaker, taunted one.) Regardless, Tetsuo still looks up to Kaneda. As the introduction moves out of the chase scene, an interesting encounter with an odd looking child (who awakens the physic abilities lying dormant within Tetsuo's mind) truly begins the movie.
The animation quality in this movie is almost enough of a reason to buy it. The detail is incredible, umparalled even by Disney?s standards. No one background or setting is used twice, and the environment is in constant change, be it blinking lights or a person exiting a random building. Oddly enough, the Bladerunner-esque buildings throughout the movie also help to establish the feeling of urgency, and the sensation of teetering on the edge of something great, something that we cannot possibly understand. The characters also move in a realistic, smooth motion, something that is missing from many anime television shows, like Pokemon or Digimon.
The music in this movie is also an aspect that really stands out, with a sound all its own. With this new DVD cleanup, you can hear every bell, whistle and drum beat. It sounds more Japanese than most animes out there, and that is not a bad thing. Every single song fits the actions incredibly well, from the haunting "Requiem" at the end, to the oddly infectious Japanese drums in "Kaneda", heard during the motorcycle chase scene and credits of the movie. Hats off to Shoji Yamashiro.
The voice acting is good, but not great. I feel that the original dubbing job used voice actors much better suited to their animated counterparts. For example, Kaneda's original voice actor fit his attitude well, as his voice had the same inflection and as a teenage boy's does. The new voice actor, however, sounds like an adult trying to speak like a teenager. Tetsuo?s voice sometimes sounds a little off too, as the inflection in his words do not always coincide with the action on screen There is no mention of the original script or dub however, but there is a small interview with the English voice actors of Kaneda, Tetsuo, and Kei.
The extras on this DVD are excellent, with detailed information on how the music was created, the voice actors of both the English and Japanese scripts, and it also holds about 4,500 stills from the movie and the entire movie's storyboard. The menus are easy to follow and understand, and contain colorful backgrounds with music-sound bites from the movie.
Overall, this DVD is a must have for any Sci-fi or animation fan. It shows the best of what anime has to offer. You will never forget the magnificent story, or the unforgettable characters that make this movie a classic, inside and outside of anime.
Remember though, this movie is NOT for young children and the squeamish. If your child is under the age of fifteen, or if you do not like the sight of blood and body part, the movie is probably not for you.
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Akira
Akira by Katsuhiro Ohtomo
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