Film Review: Akira (2001 Pioneer Dub)
Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo
On July 16, 1988, Tokyo was blown up by a massive explosion. Thirty-
Akira is, without question, a landmark film both in and out of Japan. It has earned the accolades of critics and fans alike and is widely regarded not only among the greatest animated films of all time but also an inspiration to other properties that came after it. Its popularity and cult status is believed to have kick started the massive anime boom that began in the early 1990s and even helped establish Manga Entertainment, an anime licensing and distribution company that brought Ghost in the Shell to international audiences. The film was even released on LaserDisc through the Criterion Collection in 1993. Without this film the existence of many things that some anime fans in America remember fondly probably wouldn’t have been. Truly, it is a modern masterpiece… right?
“Choose your next words very, very carefully.”
Visually, it certainly is. While from a distance Neo-
Sand rakes be damned. This man has reached a level of zen the rest
of us can only dream of.
While the film is a sublime sight to behold, the audio pales in comparison. While the dubbing is fine, the soundtrack is a bit hard to nail down. More often than not, there really isn’t a lot of music to make note of but there are incredibly few scenes of complete silence, one of which is in space simply because there is no sound to begin with. However, there is one notable track with chanting as the story gets closer to the climax, one associated with who or what Akira is and what power Akira possesses, that conveys an unnerving and unnatural power of the universe; the awesome power and abilities of a god. This conviction is turned to eleven when Testuo begins to lose control of this power. Prior to this, it’s a slow and steady buildup and ultimately pays off in the end.
The same could be said for the progression of the story… kinda-
“Capsule Gang? Nah nah, too Dragonball. Reds? No, too generic.
I know! The Sticker Brothers!”
It should be noted that the dub I watched is the 2001 Pioneer version rather than
the original dub that people would have heard back in 1988 so the voice acting will
involve those actors. While it was nice to hear a few voices that were go-
Speaking of…we caught it. Did you?
The film might be lacking in some regards but you can feel how this is a dystopia we are presented with and how the world might be coming to an end towards the end of the film when we see followers of a cult who believed that Akira was a god who would bring a final judgment to the world. The final battle is perhaps the greatest spectacle of the overall feeling of the film and its ending is… well, it’s unexpected and unexplained but not disappointing. If you’re a fan of anime or animation in general then this should be one of the films you should have in your collection. If you enjoy films like Blade Runner or cyberpunk in general, you might enjoy this or at least see how it influenced later media. However, if you’re a bit squeamish or sensitive to violence and graphic images then Akira is probably not for you. In the end it’s a film that deserves its accolades and, as far as I’m concerned, is definitely worth being considered a masterpiece despite its flaws.
Atmosphere & Experience: 10
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Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Producer: Ryohei Suzuki/
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Release Date (U.S.): Mar 30, 2001
Release Date (U.K.): Mar 30, 2001
Release Date (JP): Nov 9, 2002