Blu-ray Review “Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition”

akira-25thActors: Johnny Yong Bosch, Jan Rabson, Wendee Lee
Directors: Katsuhiro Otomo
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Funimation
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Run Time: 124 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

If you are a fan of Japanese anime, then you hold a special place for the film “Akira”. I remember being introduced to this film when I was a kid and literally being blown away. 25 years later this film still has that effect on me and has held up very well over the years. The film is so epic, violent and just mind-blowing packing a whole lot into a very short two hours. The visuals are ground-breaking and the soundtrack is a work of genius. I had to apologize to my wife in advance for my screaming of KANEDA!!! TESTUO!!! every time I watch this. This film is one of my favorite animes of all time since it is what actually introduced me to the genre along with “Dragon Ball Z”. Celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, this is easily the best release for this film on Blu-ray to date!

Official Premise: Neo-Tokyo is about to E X P L O D E! Akira isn’t just a movie – it’s the genesis of a genre. Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like the The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality. Without Kaneda and Tetsuo, without espers and psionic assassins, without that badass motorcycle – our world would be a far less exciting place to exist. But the manga became the movie and the movie became a phenomenon and the world took notice. Now, Akira is everywhere. If you can’t see it in the streets – if you can’t feel it crawling around inside your brain – then you have yet to be initiated. What. Are. You. Waiting. For?

My past Blu-ray experience with Akira was back in 2009 from Honneamise with their Limited Collector’s Edition (which is quite the rare item today). It was the film’s first go on Blu-ray and delivered amazing presentation with audio and video. The 25th Anniversary Edition combo pack delivered by Funimation with a Blu-ray + DVD does delivers the very same impressive experience. The 1080p transfer includes the film with a solid 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which really does a lot of justice for this quarter century old anime. It also includes tons of options in terms of audio tracks including both English dubs that have occurred since 1988. The first (1988) dub is presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 while the 2001 re-dub is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. But I have to admit the winner goes to the “Hypersonic” 24-Bit, 192kHz Dolby TrueHD 5.1 remaster of the original Japanese audio track, which easily takes the cake.

If you purchased the original 2009 Blu-ray debut for “Akira” back in 2009 like myself you were pissed about the complete lack of extras. Well Funimation did not make the same mistake as this release is packed with over two hours of goodies! There are still some MIA extras from previous releases but this is the best to date on Blu-ray. There is g the “Restoring Akira” documentary included. Katsuhiro Otomo, the film’s director, has a solid interview included. There are original storyboards for the anime, which runs about 30 minutes, as well as “The Writing on the Wall”, which is a series of still frames look into the film’s graffiti elements. There is a look into Geinoh Yamashiro Gumi’s work on the score in “Akira Sound Clip”. Lastly there are the Original Trailers, Original Commercials and U.S. Trailer from 2013 included.

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