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A SECRET MILITARY PROJECT ENDANGERS NEO-TOKYO WHEN IT TURNS A BIKER GANG MEMBER INTO A RAMPAGING PSIONIC PSYCHOPATH THAT ONLY TWO KIDS AND A GROUP OF PSIONICS CAN STOP.
Often described as the movie that created a mass audience for Japanese animation in America, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (1988) has been eagerly awaited on Blu-Ray. The film has been remastered for 1080p HD, which showcases Otomo's flamboyant palette and the translucent colors he uses for the opulent signage of Neo-Tokyo and the trails left by the thugs' racing motorcycles. The film probably looks better in Blu-ray than it did in its initial release as dust, dirt and scratches have been digitally removed, and the state-of-the-art sampling and bit rates reveal previously undetectable elements in the complex soundtrack. There are fewer extras than 2001 Special Edition: two trailers, two teasers, and a TV commercial. But the clarity of the Blu-ray transfer makes it easier to read Otomo's storyboards. Akira remains a landmark film in the history of Japanese animation and anime fandom: the Blu-ray edition is a must-have not just for otaku, but for anyone interested in animation. (Rated R: Graphic violence, violence against women, brief nudity, profanity, grotesque imagery, tobacco and drug use) --Charles Solomon
- Teasers 1 and 2
- Trailers 1 and 2
- TV commercial
- TV storyboards
- Initial pressing contains 32-page booklet and slipcase
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"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: [...]
The voice acting works well, the animation is superb, the characters likable, and the soundtrack is something new entirely. "Akira"'s action sequences shine, but even the quiet moments are worth pausing to see the meticulous detailing of Neo-Tokyo. Complete with vistas of space-age skyscrapers and all the futuristic cars and motorcycles you could ask for, "Akira" is an animated gem. But before you go showing it to your kids, know that it's rated "R" for a reason. This is a good movie. But it is not a kids' movie.