In 1988, the landmark Anime film AKIRA, by director Katsuhiro Otomo, defined the cutting edge of Anime around the world. By today's standards, Akira remains the pinnacle of cel animation and retains the explosive impact o... more »f its highly detailed animation and its intensely violent saga of power and corruption. Neo-Tokyo has risen from the ashes of World War III to become a dark and dangerous megalopolis infested with gangs and terrorists. The government seethes with corruption and only maintains a token control over the powerful military that prevents total chaos and hides the secrets of the past. Childhood friends Tetsuo and Kaneda plunge into Neo-Tokyo's darkest secret when their motorcycle gang encounters a military operation to retrieve an escaped experimental subject. Tetsuo, captured by the military, is subjected to experiments that make him a powerful psychic, but, unfortunately for Neo-Tokyo, Tetsuo's powers rage out of control and he lashes out at the world that has oppressed him! Nothing can stop the destructive forces that Tetsuo wields except possibly the last boy to destroy Tokyo. Insert: 1) Black BRC response card (regular version).2) Todd McFarlane Toy Insert (limited to 300,000 total inserts) * Anime masterpiece first time ever on DVD for North American release! * Created and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Special Features: * Digitally re-mastered including High Definition film transfer, High Definition restoration. * THX Certified * New English dialogue, new 5.1 mix (on the English audio only), scene access and more. * Disc 2 contains supplementary materials including "Akira" Production Report, "Sound Clip," director's interview, trailers, production materials, Restoration of "Akria", and "Akria" glossary. * Widescreen format (1:78) and enhanced for widescreen TV's (anamorphic). Akria The Special Edition (DVD9, 2 discs)« less
AKIRA on Blu-ray is the first film (animated or live) to be
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 02/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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.
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.
"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 Grand Exalted Poobah of anime deserves it's praise
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 05/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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.""
William C. Waltzer | California | 11/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Everything Falls Down
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 12/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
THIS is the way anime should be presented on the PSP
Jim M. Hastings-trew | Saskatoon, SK Canada | 10/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."