The Akira DVD is THE talked about anime at the mo-
and has been since the end of 2000. Why? Well, not only
is it about time the film was officially digitally transferred
and made widely available (the only existing versions on
the DVD format were Chinese subbed later followed by
an English sub), but Pioneer, the company that now has
the rights to it, have invested one million US dollars in it's
restoration and a new English dub.

The DVD was released 24th July 2001 in the US in two
editions- the 'regular' one disk DVD with the new dub and
original Japanese language and a limited 2-disk edition
which includes a lot of bonus material (see info below).

The cover of the regular DVD sports Kaneda walking
towards his bike and the navy blue Metal Collector's
Case (which appears black) is limited to 75,000 units.
Some stores were giving away a replica celluloid from
the film with a purchase- showing Yamagata on his bike.

The UK release was released on 18th March 2002.
Detailed info can be found on the UK DVD Page.
Yame Replica Cel

Japanese ad for the DVD

Advert for the Jap DVD


Limited Edition Tin

Back Info

US 1-disk DVD

Click pics for large image

So what is special about this restoration? What has actually been done?

The original film has been cleaned up, frame by frame, whereby dirt and scratches have been digitally removed. Along with this the colours have been enhanced and I found it really noticeable compared to the original Orion VHS. The whole audio track has been THX digitally mastered making it more dynamic sounding- especially for those with home cinema setups and again, this makes a pleasurable difference.

All the music is still there but parts have been emphasized and sound effects added/enhanced. The new dub is also good- an improvement in some areas but die-hard fans will probably favour the original. For info on the extras and details on these points read the relative sections below.

 

Gimme more details!
DVD Insert sheet pages

Click on each page to see a big version
The 2-Disk DVD is well worth the money. On disk 1 you get the original Japanese
language version AND the new English dubbed version, but not the original English
dub. On disk 2 you get:

 Original 48 minute Production Report on the making of the film (with subtitles- not
the poor US dub).

 There is a 20 minute short documentary on Geinoh Yamashiro Gumi who made the
soundtrack.

 An Interview with Otomo which was conducted after completion of the film and only
previously available on the Japanese 'Collector's Edition' Laserdisk in 1993.

 There are over 4,500 stills of Stroyboards, cels, backgrounds, pencils and sections
on Unused Storyboards, Production Materials, and a little merchandise.

 Five Akira trailers are also included with the option of having subtitles on/off.

 A 14 minute documentary on the Restoration process divided into three sections:
Picture, English Voice Over and Sound.

 Last of all is an Akira Glossary, an A-Z of Akira related info from character/location
descriptions to definitions of particular terms.

 

Here's some info on the Restoration process as taken from the DVD documentary

Picture Restoration-
The original negative was transferred to IP (Inter Positive Film) where scenes could be
colour corrected to High Definition.
      "The difference between standard definition and high definition- High has more
      resolution, it's sharper, clearer, and has better colour space to allow more vivid
      colour."      - Mark Nakamine, Telecine Colourist

After this process was complete the film underwent a DRS (Digital Restoration
Service) treatment, a process which has been used in big-budget film since 1994.
What happens here is that all scratches and dirt are digitally removed from the footage.


Audio Treatment, The English 5.1 mix-
      "5.1 is really the modern soundtrack delivery format whether it's in the Theater,
      for digital TV, DVD. It's becoming commonplace for consumer audio.
      Three channels at the front, stereo surround at the back and a subwoofer
      channel; it really lets the mixers, creative staff and sound staff place the listener
      in the environment and involve them in the picture so that it adds/enhances the
      experience of enjoying the movie."      - Steve Thompson, Creative Director, POP Sound

      "Most importantly, absolutely nothing would be eliminated that the original
      creators had given us. We'd just add to that blending it in."      - Les Claypool III,
      Supervising Sound Editor, Magnitude 8 Post


Voice Overs-
Johnny Yong Bosch  - Kaneda
Wendee Lee             - Kei
Joshua Seth              - Tetsuo

      "I wanted it to have that feeling of real people in extraordinary circumstances.
      That this was really happening to them no matter how unbelievable the
      circumstances may be, the pain is real, the insanity is real, the fear is real.
      I hope I brought that across."      - Joshua Seth, Tetsuo

 


 

My thoughts on the new DVD

I  have seen it twice, and viewed the entire 2nd disk. Christ it's well worth the money!

New Voice Over-
There are a lot of discrepancies between fans on what they think on the new English
dub. I'd like to say I though the new dub was good.

I though the best thing was not 'how' the actors said their lines but just 'what' was said.
The dialogue had been changed around a LOT and this was for the better.
The story was actually easier to follow because the words flowed easier and there
was more clear/concise info.
I was looking out for some of my favourite quotes but they never came- almost every
line was changed and this was OK as the lip sync didn't look bad.
It seemed that it followed the Epic Manga translation a lot more (I remembered some
of this because I'm currently re-reading it) and this was for the better.

A note on the acting, I thought it was overall good. Not brilliant, but then as I've got the
original in mind I'm basing my judgment on that.
The pronunciation of names is different- 'Karn-ee-dar' instead of 'Kan-aid-er' but
this is probably closer to the original language anyway (or is it?)
Kaneda's voice is OK. I must admit I preferred Jimmy Flinder's original effort as I
thought he sounded too old here. Kei (Kay) too. That's something the US voice acting
circuit has still to realize. The actor playing Kei looks as though she's in her 40's so
her 17 y.o. chara sounds a little odd. Tetsuo's voice was really good. I know a lot of
you seem to prefer the old one, but I thought this was good- didn't seem out of place.
The Colonel has lost a lot of his 'grrrr' and he sounds too clean now. Really like a voice
actor who's trying too hard.

I thought all the smaller charas were great- the Professor sounds like the original, Kai,
Yama and Kaori are brilliant (esp Kaori), and the overall extra voices were enhanced.
The Espers- I kinda missed Masaru's rasping smokers voice which I though fitted him
well. Why did they have the voices of kids? The Esper 'kids' are 40 years old! '0__0'
Nezu's voice was too 'light' too but that's another minor point, it's not how I imagine him
to sound.

I think the music has been enhanced too- there were a few parts where I heard music
that I hadn't noticed before. One was with the Spy and Takashi running down the
street in an early scene; the 'Battle Against the Clowns' music plays and I don't recall
this from the original. Maybe my memory's bad or the VHS sound wasn't as good, but
it was nice to be able to hear this nonetheless. It added a little more cinematic depth.

I've found another bonus is hooking your DVD up to your Stereo system. I've only done
this recently and it really helps the experience! Of course, by doing this you get the full
benefit of the 5.1 digital sound  ^__^

Picture-
The film is visually stunning. It was good in the first place but the picture restoration has
improved it noticeably. The colours really are much more vibrant and the annoying dirt,
which was prevalent on the original film, has been completely removed.
I even like the graphically designed animated sequences on the startup menus. Very
contemporary and vivid.
This DVD has the most extras I've ever seen on an animated release- even on par
with the best, big-budget live-action titles too.
The addition of the 4,500 odd stills was a brilliant addition *damn, and I've already got
the Continuity books, heh heh*. I even noticed a few cels/pencils from sequences I own
one of them is the exact same celluloid!! (G-6 The Guy drinking in the Harukiya)!

A brilliant DVD release, well worth your hard earned pennies.
 

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