Hey folks, Harry here with a viewer's perception of the New AKIRA print that is screening up in New York at the AMC Grand in Full Digital Projection Glory. I have very few memories of the night I saw the film, as the 10 winners and I got so messed up that night that I remember staring at the ceiling of my hotel room and counting the squares... Ahhhh... joy.... The print is immaculate... so pristine and perfect that it nearly seems 3-D... Second the soundtrack... especially the score was so friggin beyond words good sounding that you could feel every sound using your body as a tuning fork... Man, this was great sound. As for the Dub and comparing it to the OLD dub... Well, Dub is dub, I still prefer original language and subtitles... but that's me. I second our spy's insistence on having 3 language tracks... Original English Dub, New Remastered Dolby 5.1 sound and then the original language version! That disc would RULE!!!! here ya go....
2001 English Dub in digital Projection
Well Harry a few months ago I gave a review on vampire hunter D 2000. In that review I said that I had snuck away to see Akira at the MOMA. That screening presented an old print witch was the original 88’ English dub. That was then this is now.
Akira for the new millennium sports new transfer and new English dub. Being as I live in New York it was very simple to go see this digital print at the AMC Empire 25 in Time Square. I was truly enthused to see, not only my favorite animated film but my favorite film period. But I'm not going to talk about how good the film is, or how important this piece of work is. This is only about the new technical aspects of this presentation.
Going in on Friday I was very nervous about how the new 01’ English dub would be. You see even though the original dub wasn’t the greatest and could be down right confusing at times (not to mention corny), It is now a classic. You can move around to a hundred different web sites and pull down sounds and themes, based on those voices. Who in the anime watching community would not recognize the classic Kaneda scream "TETSUOOOOOO"!
I sat down with 2 of my friends with hopes that this would be an interesting experience. I brought them along because there varying experiences with this film. One had never seen it and the other had scene it only once. I figured this way I could gage a newbies reaction to see if he found it confusing as well as some one who was confused the first time, could now make sense of what he had seen.
The first thing you will notice is a very loud THX logo. This logo was greeted with cheers from the audience. The logo is nice and all but it’s plain. Its not like they designed a new one, like they did for toy story 1 & 2. It might have been nice to see Kaneda rev his bike and it stall out then plug it into the THX logo and it sound like a beast of a bike.
At this point the film began. The first few shots of the city are very light colors. This began to show of the digital transfer. Buildings looked sharp colors looked vibrant. It was almost as if you were looking at a painting. Then tragedy struck. When the explosion and the resulting creator are shown you begin to see the age of the film. As it was digital you could see every speck and scratch of the source material. This all because you were looking into black (not to mention a 40+ foot screen). This all worried me because I would say a good 70% of the film is dark.
As the film proceeded the specs disappeared in to the background (probably dew to the fact that Otomo’s backgrounds are filled with detail of what ever environment your in). The opening bike sequence looked incredible and I began to thank pioneer for doing the restoration. In comparison with the poor quality videos out there, the high quality criterion laser disc, this is obviously the best. There were a few moments where colors seemed noisy but we are talking about a 13 year old film. To sum it up, this may not win awards for the best transfer, but it is the best we will get and now that it is digital it will not get worse.
The real reason people are curious about this version is the new English dub. You begin to notice the differences immediately in the bar sequence. The few lines traded by Yama and the bartender, make you raise an eye. It’s not that there bad just real different. When you meet Tetsuo outside even his mumblings about the bike are different (witch anyone that knows about bikes, will know, this is more correct then that of the original.)
The music kicks in and the 5.1 transfers spreads its legs. Very nice. Again the bike sequence was incredible. You truly felt enveloped. Bikes whizzing buy, explosions screams, and grunts. It was great. Beyond the obvious differences in the dialoged you begin to get hints of differences in the sound design. For example when Takashi sees a guy get utterly decimated by bullets his scream is very different from the 88’ English dub. Granted it is only a scream but the 88’ dub had some kind of echo with it. 01’ dub did not. I wasn’t thrilled at this as I liked the way that scream was done originally. But I began to realize why this was. 01’ dub is more closely related with the Japanese dub. The clincher was when you first hear Kenada introduce himself to Kay. Instead of pronouncing it KA-NEA-DA he goes with the more Japanese CA-NA-DA. To be perfectly honest I was a little jarred by this. I’m sure purist are going to lynch me for that. But in any case you get used to it. The 01’ dub shows that it is superior in many ways a lot of scenes make a lot more sense, and a new sense of humor is injected into the film. For those that will see it the weekend you will laugh. In the end the only problem I had with it was some of the voice actor’s performances seemed a little dry and uninspired. The colonel does not seem nearly as menacing as in the 88’ dub.
My final view of the new 01’ version of Akira is completely positive. My friends both seemed to have understood everything without need of explanation. As for the 01’ dub becoming a classic only time will tell. But this should definitely more accessible to a new generation of anime fans. I hope this weekend a lot of people attend as it can help a landmark film get the widespread theatrical release it deserves and intern show studios that there is a big market for adult orientated animation.
PS. I still think people should watch the Japanese version it is the only true way to see Otomo’s vision.
PPS. If any one knows were I can get the new 2001 posters please say so in the talk back.
PPPs. It would be nice if pioneer would include all 3 dubs onto the new dvd. For historical purposes