Critic's Log - Earthdate: December 3, 2012. Review #25: AKIRA
The time has come, This is my 25th review and I have a special movie to talk about. I will now review the 1988 landmark anime film... AKIRA!
In the year 2019, 31 years have passed since the outbreak of World War III. In the city of Neo-Tokyo, all authority is waging a never-ending struggle against underground forces that virtually rules the shattered city, A top-secret child with amazing powers of the minds breaks free from custody and accidentally involves a biker gang in the project. The incident triggers psychic powers within one of the bikers named Tetsuo, and he ends up being taken by the army and being experimented on. Tetsuo's mind has been warped and he is on a path to destruction.
To be technical, this is a TMS Entertainment production and this anime film is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (who also created the manga of the same name). It is also a landmark anime for one obvious reason. For 1988, the animation blew everyone away. When I first saw Akira, I was blown away. I knew it was made in 1988 before I saw it but I find it almost hard to believe that it was made in the late 80's. It has fluent animation, the action scenes sometimes looks badass. I love the Bike Chase scene in the first 15 minutes of the film. The animation still looks amazing. If you didn't research this movie on Wikipedia, I'll tell you this then. This anime film has more than 160,000 animation cels throughout the two-hour experience. There was a whole lot of effort put into the making of this film. This film was one hell of an achievement.
The animation is not the only good point in the movie, although it may be the contributing reason on why most people would like this movie. The music by Yamashirogumi Geinoh really fits the movie well. I like some of the ominous themes in this movie. The music is mesmerizing throughout the movie.
As far as voice acting goes. This will be a lengthy topic to discuss. Oh well, here goes... The Japanese Cast is not bad, in fact it's pretty good. Mitsuo Iwata is fine as Kaneda, Nozomu Sasaki is good as Tetsuo, and Mami Koyama is not bad as Kei. There's a lot of seiyus that are not really big names but they play their roles just fine. Here's a little fun fact about the subtitled version, the voices were recorded before the animation was finished. Also, the animation staff focused on matching the characters' lip movements match the dialogue (which was a first for an anime production). As far as the English Dub goes, there are actually two dubs to Akira. The Streamline dub (which was from the 90's) and the Animaze/Pioneer Dub (which was done in 2001) I will actually state my opinion on both dubs. It is going to be very difficult for me to comment on the Streamline dub because I know there are some people that have grown up watching the Streamline dub and they actually liked it. I am more familiar with the Animaze/Pioneer Dub because that was the first dub I saw. I have seen a little bit of the Streamline dub and I tried to get used to it. There are some people that like the Streamline dub and there are some people that don't like it. I personally didn't like the Streamline dub, I'm sorry for those that like that dub, but the voices sounded way off to me. I was surprised that Cam Clarke voiced Kaneda though. So what do I think of the Animaze/Pioneer dub? I think it's a good dub. Johnny Yong Bosch fits the role because Kaneda is a punk and Johnny was a perfect choice for Kaneda, Joshua Seth is also great as Tetsuo. Wendee Lee was also good as Kei but I felt Kei sounded a bit older than her age in this dub, this is just a minor nitpick but Wendee Lee's performance was pretty good. as far as other performances go, Jamieson Price was great as the Colonel, and there were some well-known dub actors in the movie such as Michelle Ruff, Michael Lindsay, Mike Reynolds, William Frederick Knight, Skip Stellrecht, and Steve Blum. The Animaze/Pioneer dub is good, but I sort of prefer the subtitled version on this one. Kevin Seymour really did a good job as ADR director in which he didn't disappoint in the later dubs that he worked on with animes such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Code Geass. I've said enough on the voice acting
As far as characters go, the characters (in a way) have personalities that would fit the setting of the story that which the movie presents. Kaneda is a street punk that has a sense of humor. His best friend Tetsuo really has some problems which I really can't blame him too much for since he has a inferiority complex. I almost found Tetsuo as a whiny little bitch but there is a slight cool appeal that I see in Tetsuo and it was somewhat fascinating to see Tetsuo progress in character development. Kei is an alright character of all the bunch, She doesn't have too much development compared to how she developed in the manga. The Colonel on the other hand is a pretty good character from start to finish. He may be tough and ruthless but he has his reasons. I like how he is pragmatic to recognize the danger that Tetsuo's fledgling powers pose. I also like his sense of honor that reflects on the Military. Call it a soldierly sense of honor if you may. I like the Colonel. The other characters are pretty good for the most part.
The story of Akira is a bit hard for me to describe because the animation is what most people remember about Akira. There's definitely a lot of style with some substance to go with it. The story does have a post-apocalyptic setting and most of the scenes you see or will see does fit that setting. It's obvious that this is an adaptation of the manga of the same name and Otomo-san took some liberties from turning his 2,162 page manga epic into a 2 hour film. It's not completely faithful to the manga but since Otomo-san directed this film, I don't have much room to complain. I will say that the manga has a far more complete story, this movie does have a story but it can be a little hard to remember for some people. I guess it's good for the most part. There are times I just get blown away by the animation and totally forget about the story.
Akira was available by Pioneer/Geneon before it went out of print, it was later picked up by Bandai Entertainment until they went under. It was rescued by Funimation. At the time I'm writing this review, it will soon be available from Funimation. The manga by Katsuhiro Otomo was available by Dark Horse Comics until the rights expired and it was picked up by Kodansha Comics. The Akira manga is available from Kodansha Comics. An American live-action film was in the works but it is in development hell.
With all that said, Akira has incredible animation that ended up as one of the most popular anime films today. This film has garnered a cult following which I think the animation contributed to that. The music is mesmerizing and a tripfest in some themes. The movie has a couple badass characters as well as some badass moments. The story may have not been faithful than the manga but it is directed by the creator of the series so there's really no need to complain about that. This is a really cool movie and anyone that likes anime should see it. You won't be disappointed for the most part.
I give Akira a 9 out of 10, It is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to comment below.
Critic's Log - Post-script: Well, I just got to 25 reviews and an Otaku's work is never done. Even though I don't get paid for posting reviews, I do have fun writing reviews and posting them. Feel free to check out my other reviews that I have posted if you feel up to it. I also want to thank some of my friends that I have or made throughout the time I had making these 25 reviews. With that said, That is all I have for the time being and have a great day.