Hey folks, Harry here. The word I'm hearing on a possible expanded rerelease of AKIRA is that it will only play DIGITAL theaters.... of which there are not many in the country. And... that if this larger release happens it will either be very quickly or not at all due to the desire to get the DVD to market. Personally, I think a country wide AUGUST release of AKIRA would kick much ass, especially if Pioneer got the trailer out in theaters and attached to everything they could latch it onto. Here's The Crow....
Hello out there in Ain't It Cool Land,
Call me The Crow....long time TBer, first time reviewer.
Normally, i would never have a chance in hell of getting into any kick ass re-releases or film premieres for some odd reason (::coughcoughTexasLosAngelesbiascoughcough::), so when the opportunity to see the newly restored Akira arose, i was there in an instant...
Well, not so much an instant....
If Pioneer Entertainment was worried that the movie wouldn't attract an audience, they were SORELY mistaken.... EVERY showing of the film, with the exception of the 12:45 showing on Friday, and the 1:30 on Saturday(the one i was forced to be at instead of the 7:30 on Friday) was sold out, which is a good sign if they still intend to release the film in more cities. And judging by crowd reaction, they definitely dont need to worry about too much in the criticism department....the crowd applauded, heavily, at the end....and rightly so. From the serious Akira fan, to those few people who had never seen ANY anime aside from that which is on heavy rotation on the Cartoon Network, everyone was as still and enthralled as ever the more the movie went on, especially during the final climactic sequence, which still managed to blow everyone's mind, 13 years later. There wasn't a sound in the entire theater aside from that coming from the film itself. Not a soul moved. It was a VERY cool experience.
But that doesn't mean there aren't things to criticize. Chances are, if you're reading this review, you know the storyline and plot already, so i'll just get right down to the meat and potatoes....what they messed with.
The first thing that will strike any Akira fan's fancy will be the digital remastering of the print. The majority of people in this country who have seen the film, most likely, saw it either on video, or on the Sci-Fi Channel....never in a theater. So regardless of how many times you've seen it, you still have to take a moment and grin about how great the opening sphere looks on the huge screens at the AMC Empire. But even after that, the image has been cleaned up considerably, and now looks as clean and clear, and as fluid as ever, and stands as a true testament of how ahead of its time the animation in this nearly 15 year old piece of anime really is.
The sound was just as bad ass as they come. From explosions, to the fanatical shouting of Tetsuo's/Akira's followers, to the gunfire, to the shallow bickering of the politicians, to the now VERY present soundtrack, which has never sounded better even on CD("DUM! DUM!!"), the sound is just excellent. However, certain places seemed..i dunno...incomplete? When Takashi screams after watching his kidnapper get shot up, in the original, there was a very cool echo with it. Here, the echo is gone, and it sounds more like an "Ahh! A monster!" scream, rather than an "OH MY (bleep)-IN GOD!!!!!" scream. The same goes for Tetsuo's mutation. When he first changes, his voice remains the same for much of the scene, until about a minute before Akira's capsules break, then the sound is pretty well done, but it should've come in earlier.
Then there's the matter of the dub, which is bound to start many an anime convention riot among purists. From the start, i expected a shock as voices and dialogue changed. Even still, that did nothing to prepare me for the bar room scene. Alas, two of the more well known lines were changed...not badly, mind you, but differently. I think every fan in the audience was just waiting with baited breath for the coveted "You got a bad attitude, pops" line, but it never came. Instead came something about the bartender needing to serve real drinks, not this dog piss. Whoa...if it wasnt only a few minutes into the movie, i would've screamed blasphemy. Then hearing the CONSIDERABLY younger voice of Kaneda come out, instead of Leonardo's(Ninja Turtles fans know what I'm talking about), hearing the Colonel's voice reduced to a stiff Captain America wannabe voice, and more shocking, hearing Masaru's "smoker's rasp" become that of a child...well, for a split second, i lost the faith in the new dub. But you know what? You get over it. In fact, the voice and dialogue changes actually HELP the film, not hurt it. We've all gotten so used to the old dub that we forget that Masaru, Takashi, and Kiyoko are ALL supposed to be children.....about an hour in, it becomes very clear that the change works much better. And dialogue-wise, Pioneer has done an excellent job of making the story easier to understand, and much closer to the way Katsuhiro Otomo intended. Instead of mystifying confusion like "Kiyoko says, 'Bring Akira back to us' ", there's a very clear explanation, that Tetsuo is abusing his power, and if he wakes Akira and his power this way, Akira's going to be VERY pissed. Lines of dialogue between Kaneda and Tetsuo are done wonderfully, as Tetsuo's contempt for Kaneda's heroics and his desire to be the hero himself without help becomes clear. The bickering between politicians is more important and integral to the development of the Colonel's hatred for them. Some of the old jokes have given way to newer ones, some work ("Tetsuo, what the hell's wrong with you?! You look like a crackhead!!"), some don't ("I'm only 25! I'm not even married!" is in NO way better than "...or you'll find yourself polishin' my boots with your tongue!"). It also becomes very clear how Kaneda got his bike(Sorry...i can't spoil EVERYTHING, now can I?). The only things that seems to be a little bit lacking are screams and yells. They dont seem to be delivered with the same emotion that they are in the original dub. Small price to pay, though. Let it never be said again that Americans can't do a good dub when they put their minds to it.
Overall, small little flaws notwithstanding, this is as good an Akira as you're ever gonna see on an American screen, and Pioneer Entertainment definitely made it worth the horrendous $9.50 to see. Of course, as any anime fan will tell you, the only true way to watch anime is subtitled, but then again, when are you ever gonna see it on a movie screen done this well? Kudos to all involved. Just really too bad it's only playing in NYC, and not somewhere like San Antonio or LA ::stifled vindictive chuckle:: Oh well. If the glowing response i saw was any indication, that should be changing in the near future anyway. Until then, if you're an anime fan, or just a fan of animation in general anywhere near NYC, you owe it to yourself to find a way to get yourself to Times Square and get advance tickets to see this thing before it leaves on the 5th.
"Revolution is my name."