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 Afringe Home / Reviews / Akira: The Special Edition DVD 10/24/2014 
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INFO FILE
Title:
Akira: The Special Edition DVD
Format:
Bilingual DVD
124 Minutes
Production:
Katsuhiro Otomo
ZRO Limit
Animaze
Pioneer
Comments:
If there were more stills it would have gotten a 100.
Overall Rating:
99%

Animefringe Reviews:
Akira: The Special Edition DVD
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold


When somebody says the word "Akira", a ton of images come to mind. Well, after you've seen the completely remastered version of this cult classic, the first thing out of your mouth will more than likely be a correction of the person's pronunciation by saying, "it's not uh-kir-uh, it's ah-ki-ra!"

With memories of the Streamline dub with it's classic voices from the show Denver, the Last Dinosaur still in my head, I sat down to watch the epic. There is so much I had forgotten since the last time I saw the film. I literally flinched at times because the actions are so much more powerful due to the clean picture and the bone-cracking Dolby 5.1 sound. It's like watching the movie for the first time, only you know the ending. Yet, no matter how many times I've seen Akira, the excitement of the film always comes from knowing that there is a big sequence coming up.

Watching Akira, it is established that there are no clear heroes or villains. There isn't even a true main character. There is just a series of events that takes the viewer on one heck of an unforgettable ride. Hey, you didn't need me to explain the plot of a movie you've already seen, right?

If it's your first time watching the movie, then you'll be left wondering what the ending meant. Just think about it a little... the answers will come to you. Akira is a lot easier to understand than Ghost in the Shell, and if you read the manga then you'll understand the sequence of events and characters even more. You see, I had seen Akira about four times before I even read the manga. It's shocking to see how differently the events play out, but at the same time, if you go back and watch the movie after you've read the manga all the way through - you'll be able to enjoy the movie just that much more.

Akira is one of those films that never gets old or tired. Heck, I could even ramble off a dozen comments about why it has kept its popularity for so long... but I won't. Instead I'll move this review along and talk about the Special Edition DVD.

The first thing that will hit you is the sleek look of the black tin case. It's got hinges so it opens easily to reveal the clear holders on the top and bottom of the case. There are also inserts for the McFarlane figures and the content descriptions of both DVDs. There is one part of the package that puzzles me due to its awkward size -- the oversized cardboard sheet that serves as the disc description.

The first disc is simply the totally remastered movie, which can be watched in English or Japanese with brand new subtitles and even a capsule option that translates the graffiti. The movie looks and sounds so awesome that it's shocking just to think about how it looked in the past. The picture difference will become incredibly apparent after watching a few of the featurettes on the second disc. There are also some sleek menus with some cool transitions that just look stunning, but the car crash sound effects do get a little old.

The second disc is where all the extras are, and that's kind of an understatement. First there is the Akira Production Report which is basically a 'making of' with character profiles and info on the entire process of moving the manga into anime form. Just thinking about how much work went into this movie makes my head hurt -- it's shocking to see how revolutionary the movie's production actually was. I'm of course commenting on the revolutionary use of computer graphics, cinematic techniques, and new equipment in a way that reminds me of the work that went into making the effects in Superman: The Movie believable.

The Akira Sound Clip is the driest of the extras in that it rehashes scenes from the anime and then inserts segments about how the music was made that are mind-blowingly technical. There is also an interview with Katsuhiro Otomo that sheds more light on the movie than the Production Report did. The last bit of the making-of portion is three segments on the restoration, voice acting, and THX mastering processes. These segments are the most enjoyable, especially when the voice actors are in the spotlight, but the shortest of them all. There are also the original Japanese trailers featuring the two special announcement segments, two theater trailers, and one TV spot.

The quality of the Akira movie clips inside of the making-of and trailer segments vary from okay-looking to flat-out awful. If you really want to appreciate the quality of the restoration, just take a look at how badly the some of these segments have degraded. Don't get me wrong though, having this line-up of extras is a great plus.

There are still two other extras that need to be mentioned. There is a spoiler-filled glossary of 100 terms for things that appear in the movie and over 4,500 stills of production materials. I know what you are thinking... 4,500 stills?! Yeah, that's right. There are literally 42 clumps of shots taken directly from the storyboards, character designs, production sketches, painted backgrounds, painted cels, and so much more. I definitely don't have the patience to look at all these, but if someone wanted to make an animated movie, then is pretty much a lesson in what to do.

Now, of all the bonuses for this disc, I am most disappointed with the stills gallery. I randomly picked some choice links from the 42 clumps of production images for key scenes and noticed that there were frequent occurrences of rainbow distortion on some of the still pages. I also was very disappointed with the final section of images which houses comic covers, boxes, and posters. The sections are far from complete. As I looked through all of these I noticed that the Marvel/Epic Akira manga covers end at issue thirty-three when there were five issues left to show. There are also no shots of the McFarlane action figures or the Streamline movie posters. For all the completeness of the stills in the aspects of the film itself, the still sections for everything else are far from done. Maybe I'm just showing how anal I am, yet again.

So, if you are any kind of anime fan, you will buy Akira. The hardest part will be finding the tin-case edition, but the 2-disc set is available without the tin. Heck, you might even see the regular version at K-Mart.

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