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Funimation 25th Anniversary Blu-ray review
on 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: [...]