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Akira (Special Edition) back to product details

Truely groundbreaking, but slow.
written by gnostication September 21, 2009 - 10:34 AM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
This is the movie that brought anime into the greater US consciousness. The animation is still, to this day, amazing.

There are certain effects, in particular, that really make it an incredibly beautiful movie.

I was immersed the first 3/4 of the film, and then it started to feel like it dragged. Also, part of the film was seen with a 9-year old. It has some very mature subjects (i.e., rape, murder, drugs, etc.).

anime masterpiece
written by thediesis January 20, 2006 - 1:39 PM PST
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
after seeing this movie i became obsessed with anime-- too bad most anime isn't even close to this good. this is what you wanted from films like heavy metal-- adult themes in an animated film. the potentual has always been there for movies that have more imagination than could be done with normal special effects, and akira, for it's time is it. too bad there aren't more animated movies/anime like this.

Impeccable DVD release of a controversial Anime classic.
written by JTurner1 July 17, 2005 - 8:59 PM PDT
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful
This ambitious, multi-million dollar animated adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's best-selling graphic novel series is spectacular, both on a technical and visceral level. A lot of effort was obviously put into making the animation as fluid and lively as possible, with stunning results that rivals Disney's finest. Most Japanese animated films tend to have a somewhat stilted frame rate (for economical reasons), but one look at Akira and you would definitely think otherwise.

It is important to note, however, that this is NOT a Disney/family-friendly kind of film. Neither is it for the squeamish of viewers (or the shallowest of minds, for that matter). This is a gritty, futuristic, post-apocalyptic tale involving juvenile delinquents, corrupt government politicians, and a cautionary message about the misuse of supernatural powers. Trying to describe the plotline may be a bit of a challenge, because at times it comes across as convoluted and difficult to follow. (This can mainly be attributed to the fact that Otomo was trying to compress his 2,000+ page graphic novel into one two-hour film.) It will take more than one viewing to make any sense out of this labyrinthine story, yet there are cautionary messages that one can ultimately take away from the experience.

Akira is obviously not targeted at young children, but at a more mature audience. Good thing, too, because the film contains an extreme amount of intense violence (and very graphic at that) as well as one brief but very disturbing scene where a female character is almost raped. The really gruesome stuff occurs in the last thirty minutes in which a young teenager (who happens to be the angst-ridden anti-hero of the story) has his arm amputated by a space satellite (with bloody results), gets a metallic replacement, and transforms into a gross, indistinguishable mass of flesh and gore. The latter sequence is one of the multiple "bizarre" set pieces present in the movie (others which include a nightmare in which cuddly, innocent-looking toys grow to enormous size and threaten a medical patient). The obviously frightening aspects of such moments will obviously alienate family-friendly audiences, yet at the same time explode with imaginative, grotesque visuals rarely matched in other films (unless you count Hayao Miyazaki's works).

Also worthy of mention is the background music by the Genioh Yamashiro Gumi, an eccentric concoction of percussion, electronics, chimes, and chanting. Like the movie, it thunders through the speakers with an aggressive, fast-forward pace and bizarre, surreal tones, ranging from energetic to mellow. It sounds like an unconventional accompaniment to such a movie, but it works.

The film is considered the pinnacle of Japanese animation, yet, as with many of the greatest films of our time, it has had its share of detractors. In particular, it took me more than one viewing to finally accept Akira. I first saw the movie when I was thirteen, totally unprepared for such a violent, confusing yet beautiful animated movie. To be honest, I disliked it. When I saw the movie again five years later, it wasn't the bloodletting or the plot that offended me, but the dubbing (not produced, but released by Streamline Pictures), which grated on my ears and ranks as the worst English Anime dub I ever heard. (To those of you who are fans of that dub who may be reading this, I'm sorry, but I absolutely cant stand listening to it again.) But after obtaining this more polished, professional sounding version by Geneon/Pioneer (more on that later), I at last came to accept Akira as a remarkable achievement in animation with strong, universal messages resonating within its turbulent, gory nature and multi-layered storyline. Even so, I wouldn't recommend this movie for the casual fan, but for animation buffs and as an exercise in artistry, action, and morality for adults, few films match Akira as a worthy contender in that category.

As for this Special Edition DVD release, I have to tip my hat off to Geneon/Pioneer for putting a lot into remastering (and retranslating) this controversial classic. The video quality is amazing, but not quite perfect; there are still some specks I could spot on the print, but these are very insignificant considering how gorgeous the print looks.

The biggest improvement, however, has to be the English re-dub. Produced by the folks responsible for top-quality productions for shows such as Cowboy Bebopand Outlaw Star, this new version is superior to the original in every way. The new English cast is talented and give it their all, and their efforts are amply supported by a script which is not only more coherent but faithful in spirit and meaning to the subtitles. (Using a direct literal translation in a dub can sometimes result disastrously, but this happens to be an exception.) The only weakness is that the spoken lines do not always mesh with the moving mouth since AKIRA's original Japanese dialogue was, unlike most Anime, recorded BEFORE animation began (hence why the animation is obviously synched more to the Japanese language track). While this new version may not be perfect, it certainly comes close, and everyone involved obviously cared about this legendary film to do it justice. The Japanese language track is included on the DVD set as well, but it's in 2.0 and not 5.1. (Note: A recent re-release has the Japanese track remastered to DTS 5.1.)

It's the special features, however, that make this edition of Akira deserve its subtitle.... Well, most of that's on the bonus disc; anyway, the real "goodie" here is a "capsule feature", where a capsule appears once in a while on the screen, and you can highlight it to learn even more interesting facts on the film.

The film that set the standards for all anime.
written by Usotsuki September 29, 2004 - 12:31 AM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
This is the anime that set the standards for every anime for any country not just Japanese. Any anime film that I have ever seen doesn't even compare to the animation or story. Otomo san is a brilliant man and has created such wonderful work. For anyone who draws, paints, or is an artist in general, will love Akira. The detail in the animation the character design, the mech design, every aspect is flawless. Keep in mind it was released in 88, There are only a few parts done cg, but that was back in the 80's which they blended together so well. Basically all of it was done on cels which are hand painted. If you take the anime now a days. Usually you have a still shot of the character talking and just the mouth is moving, very little movement. You look at akira there are very very very few times when a character is not moving, please watch it again if you have already seen it and look at a couple scenes, a few times and look at something different each time in that scene. You will be amazed at all the things going on all the time, the detail is so incredible. Just look at all of it, the backgrounds the characters in each scene and think how long it would take to draw and paint it. The amount of work they put into this film is mindboggling. I'm sure so far you can see why I love this film so much.
As for Akira in terms of audio there is the japanese version, which I will always say is better than any dub, cuz I hate dubbed films, Then again when your learning a language you see the pros and cons of each version. You have the original dub, which was incredible for it's time. And then you have the good ol' pioneer redubb. I hate pioneer for what they did to this film, It was good for a marketing point of view but now a days everything is about money, they redid the dubbing to get it closer to the orig. japanese translation. Awesome, but you can't get the orig. dubbed version anywhere unless you buy it off of ebay. I have a few different versions of it but for anyone else thats not fair. My favorite part is they have everything being spoken in english then boom they pronounce the names in japanese w/ the japanese accent. That is stupid so so so stupid. Don't get me wrong I love the japanese language, and i'm sorry to anyone that liked that, but it ticked me off because it's an english dub, they are supposed to pronounce it w/ an english accent, hense the english dub, thats why it's an english dub. I guess i'm a little sore beause i've been watching this film for years and years probubly 10-12 years, so suddenly pioneer comes along and decides to redub it. Akira has been out in america since 1989. So oh so suddely I hear about it being released, I spend 40 bucks on the special edition, tin case and all and it's different, the character voices are different the lines being spoken are different, good god I can't quote the movie line for line anymore CUZ ITS DIFFERENT!!! Kinda made me mad. Take a movie that you have developed a sence of pride for and have someone come alone and mess with it, it's basically as bad as taking a 2.35:1 letterboxed film and pan and scanning it to 1.33:1 then have some ignorant ( bad word ) tell you that the bars are cutting off some of the picture...........but i'm not going to get started on that. thats a whole different story. Aaaanyway.
To all that didn't understand akira the first time they saw it. Don't worry, anyone who sees it will not understand most of it unless you read the comic book. You have to read the comic if you hope to understand anything. There are 6 books, go to barnes and noble and read them. The movie is basically books 1-4. And in the comic book 4,5 and 6 is when the reall story starts to kick in ( if you know what i mean ). Just like in the last 30-45 min of the movie. They took a 2000+ page comic and put it into a little over two hours of film, incredible what they did w/ it, but some things were changed and will never make sence unless you read it. Akira is totally different in the film than he is in the comic, In the comic he is a boy that walks around and exists all the time, in the film he is like an entity, and you only see in in memories and at the very end when he takes tetsuo. By all means READ THE COMIC. I hear so many people say " aww man that didn't make any sence " and there is way to much information. just read it, I understood soooo much after I read it. Trust me, it's worth it. -ja

mostly violence
written by skybrian April 18, 2003 - 9:32 PM PDT
3 out of 14 members found this review helpful
It's basically a sci-fi disaster film with motorcycles. Also, bizarre mental powers like in the Matrix. I'll admit some of the visuals were kind of cool (like the teddy bear) but otherwise, there's not much to it. The biggest problem is that I didn't relate to any of the characters in the film. The main characters, members of a motorcycle gang, are reckless jerks.

Weird, but influential!
written by Tanaquil April 8, 2002 - 11:54 AM PDT
14 out of 17 members found this review helpful
Hmm, on this, perhaps my second or third full viewing (I always seem to come in at the middle, which I can assure you is a bad idea), this movie is actually beginning to make a little bit of sense to me. I'm not sure whether I should be worried about that. It may be a sign of otaku assimilation.

If you haven't seen Akira, you may be wondering why I call it weird... well, let me just quote a friend with whom I was discussing it recently: "I always lose it around the point where the giant teddy bear comes in." Quite. That's even before poor Tetsuo expands into a giant blob that threatens to swallow Tokyo. And really, who the heck is Akira? And why are they talking to bits of his intestines in glass jars?

All that having been said, the film is filled with the kind of vivid post-apocalyptic images you don't forget even when you have no idea what they're all about. And when viewed carefully from beginning to end, many powerful themes are being explored, though perhaps never fully resolved: the scientific exploitation of innocents, the coming of age of an abused young boy, the struggle of lost young people to survive in a world that makes little sense, the power of the human mind and the temptations that come with power, the scientific compulsion to experiment with powers far too great to be controlled even when their danger has already been proved.

I have been told that the Japanese-subtitled version makes a lot more sense than the English dubbed version most people in this country have seen, and I did indeed understand a lot more this time... though how much of that had to do with subtitles vs. dubbing I am not sure. I just know that the dubbing, which I switched to for a short time, sounded idiotic and shallow as it so often does. But as always with anime DVDs, it is nice to have the option to switch at will.

Bottom line? Akira completely changed the way anime is viewed in America today (and deeply influenced its development in Japan as well, from the 1980's on). Little or nothing had appeared commerically in English before it except heavily adapted series like Robotech and Star Blazers -- fun, yes, but hardly representative. Without Akira, we might not have the chance today to see films in theaters ranging from Ghost in the Shell to Princess Mononoke, nor would we have domestic releases (now on DVD as well as VHS) of dozens of wonderful series. Name your favorite, it probably was released in the US in Akira's wake. Within Japan itself, it is the forerunner of many an anime experiment, not least the Neon Genesis Evangelion.

So, it's kind of like a historical monument. Pay it a visit out of respect. And hey, if you ever figure out the giant stuffed animals, post a review and let us know.

written by PeterMarinac February 28, 2002 - 10:39 AM PST
5 out of 18 members found this review helpful
Perhaps this film is "landmark" in the sense of length, but I personally didn't see a lot otherwise to recommend it. The animation is pretty cool but the story line is definitly geared towards a younger person--say 15 - 25.

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