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Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review

Akira Blu-ray-DVD Combo Pack

The beloved cult classic “Akira” gets a brand new Blu-ray release in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary.

“Akira” is a multi-layered anime film about government experiments, anti-government revolutionaries, power, politics, friendship and violence. The story, which is set in the crime ridden city of Neo Tokyo in the year 2019, primarily revolves around friends/motorcycle gang members Kaneda and Tetsuo. While engaged in a battle with a rival gang (the Clowns), Tetsuo nearly runs into an odd looking child (Takashi) who turns out to be an Esper (a test subject with powers). In his encounter with Takashi, Tetsuo becomes injured and is promptly whisked away to a hospital. During his stay there, it is revealed that Tetsuo possesses extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, Tetsuo isn’t able to control or contain these powers which causes him to become a threat to, well, everyone. To make matters even worse, Tetsuo plots to resurrect a former Esper (Akira) who destroyed Tokyo before. The only one who can try and stop Tetsuo from potentially destroying the world is his pal Kaneda who has become caught up with events involving a group of revolutionaries (including a girl/love interest named Kei).

Before I give my opinion on the film, let me say that I recognize the fact that “Akira” is a groundbreaking cult anime film both in terms of animation and story. The film practically invented the cyberpunk genre and was highly influential to other acclaimed works such as “The Matrix.” The animation work (namely the fully realized Neo Tokyo world) is also still immensely impressive 25 years after its release. With all of that said, I have to say that I’ve never been enamored with “Akira” like many other anime and film fans are. While the film is undoubtedly a VISUAL masterpiece, the actual screenplay is a convoluted mess. While the film is intentionally fast paced and chaotic, the story is so cluttered with ideas and themes that it becomes exhausting to watch. I appreciate the film’s ambitions and intriguing ideas, but it’s hard to get caught up in the story when one is constantly being assaulted with repetitive and bombastic set pieces filled with characters shouting, explosions, and debris virtually every other minute.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85.1 1080p. How does it look? As colorful and visually striking as this film is, I can’t help but find this transfer to be a little disappointing. Granted, I’m sure this is the best the film can look at this point in time, but the overly grainy and barely better than DVD picture quality isn’t likely to blow anyone away.

Audio Tracks: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2009 Remastered), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2001 Remastered) and the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 original language track from 1988. How do the tracks sound? The English track delivers in the action department but the dub is generally mediocre. The English Stereo track is a low quality track and will only appeal those who grew up with this dub of the film. The Japanese 5.1 track is clearly the one to go with here as the voice acting is first rate.

Extras:
* Trailers for Funimation.com, “Aquarion EVOL,” “Eureka Seven AO,” “Michiko and Hatchin,” “Lupin The Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine,” “The Future Diary,” “Appleseed XIII,” and “Wolf Children.”
* A 2013 U.S. trailer, 2 original trailers, and 3 original commercials for “Akira.”
* “Akira Sound Clip (1988)”- 6 pieces of Geinoh Yamashiro Gumi’s music from “Akira” as well as an introduction about the music for the film.
* A text glossary of terms from the film.
* “Storyboard Collection”- A half hour storyboard photo gallery.
* An interview with director Katsuhiro Otomo from the Laserdisc release of “Akira.”
* “Restoring Akira”- A 3 part extra that covers the picture quality, the English voice over and the English 5.1 audio mix.
* “The Writing On The Wall”- Still photos with English translations of the various graffiti in “Akira.”

Overall Thoughts: I realize I may be in the minority here, but I don’t think “Akira” is all that and a bag of chips. Is the film worth seeing? Absolutely, but it’s not one of the top tier anime films in my book.

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November 16, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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