on January 10, 2015
This movie was the first thing that I ever saw as a child, that turned me on to the anime genre. I watched it when I was around 8 or 9, (against my mother's wishes, of course-- as she felt that it might be too violent/graphic for my little mind and eyes to see.) Thankfully though, I rebelled... and watched it with my uncle. My views on anime were forever changed. Up until viewing Akira, I had only experienced things like Pokemon, Digimon, and of course, Sailor Moon. Not that these shows were now terrible or anything, but these shows were for young kids, and even though I was still in the young kid category... I had moved on to bigger and greener pastures. Though Pokemon and company did have action, and sometimes (to small children) emotional moments, it was nothing compared to what I had just witnessed with Akira. Finally, I understood and knew that anime, in its beautiful, hand drawn details, as well as gripping stories... was an art. Cue what started a hobby and passion of mine. Japan was daring to show audiences something that nobody else could even attempt-- to the utmost degree. As an avid fan of the anime genre, I would say that Akira is required viewing. However, be warned, as this story is not for the faint of heart. Though gifted with a gripping and compelling story, there are some very grotesque and striking visuals. When it comes to the argument of original sub over English dub, I'd have to say I'm a sub fan, but the dub was very watch-able as well, and I did enjoy it. Just go with whatever you prefer. In this edition, however-- you are given a couple of options. If you're a long time fan, the original dub is available, along with a 2001 re-release dub starring Johnny Yong Bosch, and Joshua Seth. The re-release dub is more on par as to what is being spoken in the original Japanese sub. It had been a while since I had watched this gem of a film again, and was more than satisfied with it. As the film that is often viewed as the one that started it al with having anime become more mainstream, along with that iconic red motorbike, if you are an anime fan and you haven't already... please, go and watch this great film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Few anime films are as groundbreaking, mystifying, or head-scratching as Akira. For years, it's been the benchmark which all other anime films are measured against. Its scope and ambition is far beyond most films, anime or otherwise, and it serves as a figurehead for mature, intellectual stories built on unique concepts that nobody has really ever attempted to replicate. Now we have the 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray, which could very well be called the definitive version of this wonderful classic.
Akira takes place in a dystopian Tokyo circa 2019, 31 years after a massive explosion decimated the city and triggered the onset of World War III. The city is rife with political corruption, civilian protests and biker gangs, one of which is the Capsules, led by a young boy named Kaneda. The Capsules are at war with a rival gang known as the Clowns, who they routinely battle for control of territory. During one particularly violent skirmish, young Capsule gang member Tetsuo is severely injured when he nearly runs over a young disfigured blue-skinned boy. Tetsuo's motorcycle explodes just before impact under mysterious circumstances. Military forces arrive at the same moment as the Capsule gang, and Kaneda witnesses Tetsuo being taken away for medical treatment. The disfigured boy, known as Takashi, is taken back to a secret military research facility that has been conducting experiments on he and two other children. The hospitalized Tetsuo begins to manifest telekinetic psychic powers brought on by his close encounter with Takashi, but he also experiences severe headaches and psychological trauma in the process. Tetsuo escapes the hospital and begins to manifest antagonistic and antisocial behavior, the former of which is directed at his close friend and rival Kaneda. When Tetsuo is captured by the same military forces that took Takashi, Kaneda sets out to find Kei, a young woman who is part of an underground revolutionary group with knowledge of the dangerous experiments being conducted by the military, led by the gruff Colonel Shikishima and his aid, Doctor Onishi. The two launch a daring break-in to find Tetsuo, who has become more unstable as his powers grow beyond comprehension. Tetsuo learns of the existence of a being called 'Akira,' who may hold the answers to his terrible psychological trauma. Disregarding his friends, Tetsuo launches a one-man campaign against the military to learn the secret of Akira, no matter the cost. While the military scrambles to stop Tetsuo's horrible rampage through Tokyo, Kaneda decides to confront him one-on-one, which only fleshes out his inferiority complex more. This, combined with his growing psychic powers makes Tetsuo a massive, uncontainable threat that could spell a repeat of the same disaster that took place 31 years before.
What a fascinating film! Akira succeeds on so many levels that it has become one of the pillars of sci-fi cinema. To this day, the detailed artwork and visuals are nothing short of awe-inspiring, and only films like "Ghost In The Shell" have managed to approach its level of detail and inspiration. The sprawling cityscapes of Neo Tokyo are an artist's dream come true, both beautiful to behold, yet ominous in the fact that they represent a society teetering on the brink of total upheaval. Several themes run through the story at high pressure, including the dangers of genetic manipulation, political corruption, lack of military restraint, class wars, and social divisions between governments and their citizens. The story zooms in closer, however, and puts the human psyche under a mesmerizing microscope. Tetsuo is a multi-layered character who suffers from feelings of inferiority thanks to consistent abuse throughout his childhood. Though he is desperate for acceptance, Tetsuo's friends, particularly Kaneda, frequently belittle him for being the smallest and weakest of the group. This amplifies his rage and anger, distorting reality, and masking the heartbreaking truth of just how much he is actually loved by his friends. "What-if" questions abound as to the nature of what one would do if such tremendous psychic powers were suddenly bestowed upon a person, and how their psychological standing would affect their handling of the situation. Akira is a difficult movie to understand. Most people will throw up their hands in complete confusion after their first initial viewing, and unless they watch it a few more times, they will never quite grasp the heavy weight of the story, or the message behind it. The film's ambitious storyline is mind-boggling in every aspect, with no direct center plotline to drive it. As such, viewers need to keep their eyes and ears open, and never look away even for a moment. Dare I say, Akira is best viewed as a singular experience devoid of any distractions. If you like to watch movies with a group of friends who are prone to chatter, or have short attention spans, do NOT watch this film with them. Do it on your own. Let it sink in. Appreciate it for the work of sheer genius that it is. You will never see anything like it, and I doubt you ever will again.
The 25th Anniversary edition gets it right on the very first shot by including the Kodnasha and Pioneer English dubs of the film. I don't care what anyone says; the 1988 Kodnasha English dub starring Cam Clarke is the definitive and superior version of the two. The 2001 Pioneer dub (created for the tin-case DVD special edition) attempted to sound more contemporary in its translation, but has frequently been denounced as an inferior attempt by purists, who instantly cried foul. There's a reason: it's just not as good. The only drawback is that Kodnasha's Dub is presented in a meager Dolby TrueHD 2.0 format, while Pioneer's gets the TrueHD 5.1 (blah!). From an audiophile's standpoint, however, both dubs pale in comparison to the thundering Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Japanese track, which overshadows both with spectacular 192kHz fidelity. Akira has never sounded better, but if you're a subtitle Nazi, then you'll probably settle for an English dub. Just make sure to make it Kodnasha's version.
The Blu-Ray restoration process is beautiful, make no mistake. The picture has been cleaned up tenfold from previous releases, and the new color balance is rich and inviting. Akira was never intended to be a "sharp" picture, but you'll be hard-pressed to see it look better anywhere else. This release also tosses out the picture-box effect that plagued the last Blu-Ray release in 2009. Get ready for true widescreen immersion this time 'round. When it comes to bonus features, this release is respectable, focusing largely on a handful of featurettes, most notably one that focuses on the 2001 remastering process. Then there's the obligatory storyboards, trailers and TV spots, etc. It's worth noting that a few of the Special Edition DVD extras have been axed for this release, which is a bit confusing. In short, there's little in the way of "new" material for such a landmark anniversary release. You do get a DVD copy of the film, for whatever reason you'd need one. Akira has always been about Akira, however; the movie itself. Special features are never going to be nearly as fascinating as the actual movie, and that's a testament to its iconic status. Only a handful of anime films can claim to come close to Akira's pedigree (most notably "Ghost In The Shell"), and even fewer non-animated films can manage the same. If you're one of the few sci-fi nuts who hasn't seen this masterpiece, then there's never been a better time to pick it up. The only people who wouldn't be fascinated by Akira are those with horrid attention spans, shallow imaginations, or the foolish who think that it's "just a stupid cartoon." Don't worry, we won't try to change your mind. It's your loss entirely.