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jinnai's Akira Tv Review

Akira tv Review

Story & Characters

Neo-Tokyo, 2031 — 38 years after a massive explosion annihilated Japan's capital city and started World War III. Violent biker gangs rule the nighttime streets of the rebuilt metropolis. Kaneda, the cocky and charming young leader of one such gang, finds a whole new kind of trouble when a bizarre accident injures his best friend Tetsuo. The army takes Tetsuo into custody, and shortly thereafter Tetsuo manifests frightening new psychokinetic powers, and an angry and paranoid personality to go with them. Now the army's trying to re-capture Tetsuo, and Kaneda finds himself involved with an underground resistance movement opposing the army's mysterious covert operations. What's going on with the strange children who look like old people and can destroy a building with a single thought? Kaneda doesn't know what he's gotten himself into, but it all revolves around a mysterious something — or someone — known only as "Akira."

However, it's now the year 2001, and while I give Otomo props for making something big and new nineteen years ago, most of the graphic storytelling techniques he pioneered in this work have become commonplace in today's comics and graphic novels. Thus I'm really only concerned with whether or not Akira holds up as a story in its own right, here and now. I am pleased to report that it does so quite admirably.


Rating: 7

Art

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Besides mere technical flash, though, Akira features a really solid, action-based science-fiction story that gives Otomo plenty of room in which to stretch his artistic chops. The action gets slightly repetitious after the first volume, but there's a true sense of urgency to what's going on. Each successive revelation ups the stakes a little, so that what starts out as a tale of rebellious youth in a ruined future turns into an epic battle for the future of the planet. That, my friends, is good stuff.

There are philosophical questions raised here, as well as interesting sociological issues, but the real focus is the action. We get excitement right from the get-go, with speed- and drug-addicted biker gangs zooming down deserted highways in pursuit of that ultimate high. When the psychokinetics show up, things start blowing up, and then the army gets involved and it's motorcycles and explosions and bullets a-flying. This, more than just about anything else I've read, is the epitome of the "page-turner" — I got through the 359-page first volume in less than two hours.

Whether you're a manga enthusiast interested in experiencing a historic and innovative classic, or just a hardcore adrenaline junkie looking for something that'll get your blood going, you'll find a lot to enjoy in Akira. It's got something for everyone, and is a classic well deserving of its reputation.

Rating: 5

Sound

Just as the film is visually explosive, so it is audibly. Just loading the DVD and transitioning into the menu is an exhilarating experience. A motorcycle seeming starts up in your front channels, the engine revs, then tires squeal as the schematic images of various motorcycle concepts flash across the menu screen while the surround channels kick in some major spatial effects. An undercurrent of rhythmic music from the soundtrack immediately adds a certain tension to the presentation.

As for the film itself a new Dolby 5.1 re-mix keeps the soundscape fully active. This option is only available on the English dub option, the original Japanese soundtrack is still in Dolby 2.0 stereo, which if you are a purist, could be disappointing. What certainly warrants mentioning is that for this release a whole new English language version has been recorded and utilized, with different voice actors than those found on previous home video releases. To be honest, I actually prefer this newer version, though die hard fans have found this remix disorienting, kind of like plastic surgery being done on an old friend. The new dialogue is a more accurate translation than the previous one, and I noticed right away that the voices of the “special project� kids were now that of young children rather than adults trying to voice the parts. The Colonel, in particular, comes across sounding much more like his appearance suggests, than the somewhat world weary voice he was given before..

Probably the most intrinsic element of the soundtrack is the inspired music which was actually scored prior to the completion of the scenes it was meant to accompany. An exotic and unusual mixture of early Japanese percussion instruments, growling electric guitar riffs, and other modern day electronic augmentations, it perfectly portrays the ambience of a future world, still possessing an undercurrent of primitive energy. Ultimately this film is about survival and evolution, and the soundtrack brings out all of these qualities extremely well.

Rating: 7

Presentation

Intellectually, I am aware of how groundbreaking Akira was when it was first published in Japan in 1982. I know how it has influenced not just comic artists around the world since then, but writers and filmmakers as well. I can see the innovation in Otomo's layouts, in his cinematic sense of style, and in the breakneck pacing of the story.

However, it's now the year 2001, and while I give Otomo props for making something big and new nineteen years ago, most of the graphic storytelling techniques he pioneered in this work have become commonplace in today's comics and graphic novels. Thus I'm really only concerned with whether or not Akira holds up as a story in its own right, here and now. I am pleased to report that it does so quite admirably.

There are a number of scenes that I can tell were innovative for the early '80s, but the nice thing is that even today these are striking and highly effective visuals. There is, for instance, the scene where Kaneda and two of his biker gang buddies are about to be smooshed by a falling water tower. Otomo gives each biker's reaction to the falling tower in an overhead shot, and each of these three small panels gives the boy's face at a different orientation (straight up in one, 90 degrees in another, fully upside down in the third). This technique is more than just cinematic, it's memorable. It's the art of the comic at its most effective, using mere pictures to send the impact of a moment straight into the mind and gut of the reader.

Rating: 5

Final Verdict

6.00 (average)

Reviewed by jinnai, Dec 29, 2004

Comments

  1. madone Dec 29, 2004

    akira is one of the greats in animation and agree with you, but for one thing, the voices in the old version was better, some of the voices in the new dvd sound dum. maybe i watched the old version too many times. i give it 9/10

  2. candy-chan Retired Moderator Dec 30, 2004

    mmmmmm youre a bit harsh on the rating :/ i think the masterpiece deserves more than a 6/10....
    how about 7/8/7/9

  3. Framel Jul 09, 2005

    I think that Akira was advanced to its time. Perhaps an 8 is acceptable, isn't?

  4. PhoenixNox Sep 07, 2005

    Akira was great. the ending was weird tho.
    so far i like the manga better, but im only up to volume 2 cuz its soooooo expensiveeee

  5. Baraka-Senpai Jul 05, 2011

    good anime!

  6. aureawolf May 09, 2012

    I totally agree as for the philosophical and sociological background (I mean, there are so many postmodern flashes and Hiroshima-Nagasaki sequels), I also agree when it comes to your appreciation of the soundtrack (the instinctive brutality contrasts and harmonizes perfectly with this possible future): But I must also agree with most of the other replyers about that the rating was a bit harsh (the art, in my opinion, is not average (which 5 stands for) 'cause the merge of both Otomo and Tanaka's visions create a very particular and cthastrophically dark atmosphere)... I don't quite get it, specially when your remarks are positive and there are not many 'buts'.

  7. angelxxuan May 20, 2012

    an anime of legend, I like what you did with this review. in my opinion I feel that any anime fan out there should stop and take the time to watch this anime. your anime viewing is not complete until you have seen such a legendary anime !

  8. UberDog Mar 23, 2015

    An epic anime of all time in my opinion, but that's how opinions are. decent job on the simple review however.

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