My views on Akira differ slightly from my colleague Serdar, who has provided us with an outstanding overview of the film (here). I consider it a milestone as well as something I can watch over and over again for enjoyment. I imagine this is likely due to the fact that I embrace the film’s inherent nihilism and lack of a true hero. I must admit though that my first experience with the film was one of pure visual joy. I was watching a VHS dub of the Japanese film, brought back from Japan in 1990 with no subtitles or English overdub. Unable to translate or understand what I was seeing and hearing, I could only marvel at the spectacle on-screen and the soundtrack that accompanied it. It was unlike anything I’d seen before or since. When I finally managed to track down a copy of my own, it was a VHS with the original English dub. Here the utter bleakness of the film came into much sharper focus, and I found strong parallels to the punk subculture I considered myself a part of. It quickly became one of the most important pieces of visual media in my life. I played that copy until it broke, and replaced it with another VHS, this featuring the Japanese language track with English subtitles. The story became more nuanced with a clearer translation, and it was around this time that I was able to source a copy of the soundtrack on CD. The first thing I ever pre-ordered in my life was the 2001 special edition DVD release of Akira. I didn’t even own a DVD player at the time. It’s fair to say that nostalgia plays into my appreciation of Akira, but I can state with unbiased clarity that the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray is a solid product whether you’re a long-time fan or experiencing it for the first time. It’s not the definitive release of the film in terms of supplemental material, the 2001 Special Edition DVD still holds that distinction, but it certainly delivers in terms of a visual upgrade. This edition ditches the letterboxing of both the DVD and the 2009 Blu-Ray releases, presenting a gorgeous unimpeded widescreen view of the film. The colors are incredibly vivid, and though the film retains some of the grain one would expect from hand-drawn animation from the late 80s, the visual presentation is stunning nonetheless. The hybrid CGI sequences are perfectly blended, and the restoration performed in 2001 during the transfer to HD is remarkably clean when viewed in Blu. One of the greatest triumphs of this release is the inclusion of the three language tracks. In addition to the 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese language track we get both English dubs: The original 2.0 English dub and the 2001 special edition 5.1 Dolby Digital dub. Perhaps my nostalgia weighs in heavily here, but it was quite a pleasure to be able to hear all three presentations. The original English dub, while perhaps a lesser translation, brought back some strong memories and I appreciate tremendously its inclusion here. As for the rest of the extras, here’s a brief overview. Akira Sound Clip (19:22) – filmed at the time of Akira’s production, this feature discusses at length the profound contribution of the Japanese music collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi to the soundtrack. It also focuses on director Katsuhiro Otomo’s decision to record the soundtrack prior to production of the film, how the music laid the groundwork for what would come. The soundtrack is an achievement in and of itself, the Geinoh Yamashirogumi delved deep into native instrumentation from around the world to bring together a sound of the future. Looking to the past, they craft something unique and unheralded. This glimpse at the process will only strengthen your respect for their work. Interview with Director Katsuhiro Otomo (29:11) – this interview delves pretty deeply into the mind of the director, laying out his history prior to creating the Akira manga and the film adaptation. It’s a discussion of influence and process, how everything from Easy Rider to Tetsujin-28 played a role in what would become Akira. He also discusses to a lesser extent the difference between the film and the manga, and the challenges of adapting the work for film. Otomo is incredibly gregarious and his infectious laugh sustains what might have otherwise have been an overly technical discussion with any other participant. Storyboard Collection (30:58) – The entirety of Otomo’s storyboards are presented with selections from the film’s soundtrack accompanying. I’m always torn regarding the presentation of this type of thing on-screen. Without the ability to zoom in, it can be hard to appreciate the detail of what is displayed. Perhaps I should consider the purchase of a 100” flat panel to better accommodate? The Writing on the Wall – presents translations of the various graffiti seen throughout the film via a series of stills. There’s only a handful of these, but it’s interesting to see them unveiled to we English speakers. Original Trailers (3:11) – two original trailers, presented in Japanese with subtitles. It’s fascinating to see which scenes were focused on vs. the modern trailer for the 25th edition release. Original Commercials (1:22) – two commercials as aired on Japanese television, replete with splashy late 80’s graphic overlay. Restoring Akira (11:01) almost all of the extras here are included on other releases, this one is specific to the 2001 special edition release. It details the restoration process and also features some interview clips from the voice cast for the 2001 English dub. Everyone is very proud of themselves, and this comes across as a mix of ego and reverence for the source material, depending upon who is being interviewed. Glossary – 75+ terms used throughout the film are defined here via a series of screens to be advanced through. I’d never really considered a need for this, as the majority of what you need to know can be gleaned from context, but it’s interesting to see a hard definition/history laid out for some of them. U.S. Trailer (2013) (00:55) – the trailer for the 25th edition release, included for posterity’s sake I suppose? The Blu-Ray also includes several trailers for other Funimation releases and a two-disc DVD pack-in. One DVD includes the film, the other the special features. As mentioned previously, there are some special features from previous editions not included here, but given the overall quality of the presentation it’s worth the purchase to see the film in Blu-Ray, especially given that it can be routinely found retailing for $20. See larger image Akira: Movie (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) New From: $9.52 USD In Stock Akira (1988): 25th Anniversary Edition 4.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.