Akira Blu-Ray Review

DirectorKatsuhiro Otomo

Animation ProductionTokyo Movie Shinsha

Akira was originally screened in Japan on July 16th 1988, around 22 and a half years ago, and is coincidently exactly 1 month older than me. I can’t remember the first time I saw it but it was sometime in the early 2000’s. It didn’t entirely wow me at first because it was built up in my mind to be something else and it was also very early in my anime and film watching days. But revisiting this classic once again on Blu-Ray and this time in the best possible conditions outside of a theatre, I completely agree with why this is praised as the best Japanese animated film ever created.

Set in Neo Tokyo 2019 years after a nuclear like explosion destroys a large section of Tokyo, the military continues to experiment with this devastating uncontrollable power that started the whole situation. Since then Tokyo has turned into a run down cyberpunk looking city full of gangs, protestors and a strong military presence.

The main characters, Kaneda and Tetsuo, are the typical delinquent teenagers who are in a biker gang. Kaneda is the strong charismatic leader of the group while Tetsuo is the shy childhood friend. During a intense chase scene with a rival gang Tetsuo encounters a genetically modified human which awakens the power within Tetsuo. He is then quickly whisked away by the military and is experimented on to try and control this power within.

The name of the movie refers to one of the original human experiment, Akira who was the cause of the original disaster. Akira in the mind of some of the Tokyo population has became a messiah figure and is seen as an all powerful being. It’s hard to explain but he wielded an ultimate sort of energy which was unlocked in his generic material. The scientist couldn’t control him which resulted in the disaster. Despite this the military continued experimenting to awaken this power within others.

Lony ago there were people who tried to gain control of that power. That is, all of the government’s requests. But they failed in their attempt, and it triggered the fall of Tokyo. And that power is something that is totally out of our….

What I like most of about the film is the quality of the animation and visual detail. The iconic red bike of Kaneda and his orange jacket are so memorable along with the use of red throughout the movie. It is a movie with a grand scale and a sort of maturity that isn’t really present in anime anymore.

As for the Blu-Ray features there is usual set of language option with a sparse number of extra features (trailers, storyboards). But the key is the picture quality which looks sharp and a noticeable difference over VHS, but I’m not sure about how much better it looks from DVD. Definitely one to keep on your shelf and revisit over and over again.

Year – 1988 Length – 124 Minutes

High School of the Dead Episode 11

Episode 11 Dead Storm Rising

Summary: A more moody episode with tensions reaching their peak and some questions answered. Mr Shido is back and is initially let into the mansion compound. We learn Shido’s father was politician who left his mother who then commited suicide. For some reason Shido then left home to be a teacher. The tension between Rei and Mr Shido is explained, Shido’s father is having trouble with Rei’s police chief father and calls Shido to make Rei fail a grade.

At the end of the episode we cut to US nuclear submarine as they are given orders to launch the nuke. Russia and Usa are firing MIRV’s at each other and it looks like the world is heading into armageddon. A MIRV if you don’t know is a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle with carries multiple nukes on a single ballistic missile.

High School of the Dead Episode 10

Episode 10 The Dead’s House Rules

Summary: While they are now safe at Saeko’s large mansion the group are frustrated being part of a larger group who treat them as kids and don’t give them any responsibilities. Saeko is mad at her family for only protecting themselves and not coming for her. Saeko’s father is the head of an important family and leads with a strong sense of traditional honour.

High School of the Dead Episode 9

H.O.T.D. Episode 9 The Sword and the Dead

Episode Summary: Separated from the group Takashi and Busujima head to Takagi’s house, they find it too tough on foot so they go to the bike shop we saw in the previous episode. Instead of taking a bike they find a ground/water vehicle in the garage. To draw the attention of the zombies so that they can sneak to Takagi’s house they drive the vehicle into a pond and make it go in circles. Next we have the awesome part of they episode (it’s funny that there always seems to be only just one) where we see some cute zombie children and Busujima completely freezes. Takashi saves her by blasting the kids away and then they take refuge in a nearby shrine. Here we learn a bit about Busujima’s past where she reveals she was attacked by a drunk while walking home from school but instead of just running away she plays along so that she could turn on him and beat him down with her training sword. They spend the night in the shrine and the next day they reach Takagi’s mansion.

Comment: This show is just so ridiculous, they creators fully know what they are doing. It is definitely not meant to be taken seriously which I probably should’ve been aware of from episode 1. They don’t seem to be going into further depth explaining the zombies and I don’t really know what the overall plot is going to be other than that the survivors are trying to reconnect with their families. I’m having fun watching it in the way that people like to watching bad movies and I’m pretty sure the creators know this too.

High School of the Dead Episode 8

H.O.T.D Episode 8 The Dead Way Home

Episode starts on airforce one where the US president has been bitten and facing death doesn’t choose to enter the code to release the nukes. It seems the logical option as it doesn’t seem like the zombie outbreak was maliciously created by any government.

Cut back to our group of survivors who cross the river on the hummer and decide to drive to Takagi’s house which is the closest. They run into more zombies but this time they get cornered with the road blocked off by a wire mesh designed to prevent zombies from getting through. They are saved by Takagi’s mom who is a firefighter but are now separated from Busujima and Takashi.

High School of the Dead Episode 7

Episode 7 Dead Night and the Dead

Summary: On this episode a father and daughter seek refuge from the zombies and knock on a house with lights on. The family in the home fearing for their survival kill the man (by homemade spear) leaving his daughter alone. Hirano sees this situation from the balcony of the apartment and despite warnings to not make any noise snipes off zombies to protect the girl. Takagi goes to save the girl on his bike and we get some cool bike vs zombie action. Hirano supports Takagi sniping zombies in the way while the rest of the group prepare to leave the apartment on the hummer. Takagi while saving the girl fires of his gun alerting the horde of zombies to him. The girls and Hirano come to the rescue in the hummer and they get the hell out of there.

Impression: Based on the episodes so far I don’t have expectations that this show will be any good in comparison to the other shows going on right now. I could be spending my time watching better shows but it’s too late from a blogging perspective. It’s just mindless zombie action with some interesting aspects and that is probably just what the creators were going for.

Episode Screenshots

High School of the Dead Episode 6

High School of the Dead Episode 6: In the Dead of the Night

Summary: Not much to say about this episode, our group of high school survivors are taking a break in an apartment of a special forces agent who is a friend of Miss Marikawa. On the news we find out that 2 million are dead so far in Japan, with victims expected to double over the next few days (seems low since the population of Japan is over 100 million). The cool part of the episode is seeing how the cops handle the barrier at the nearby bridge. The cops are fending off zombies with handguns at first but are then authorised to use whatever force necessary and use a bulldozer to take down the zombies. The awesome violent moment of the episode is a mother holding her child who is infected, the child turns into a zombie and bites her mother.

Screenshots

High School of the Dead Episode 5

High School of the Dead Episode 5: Streets of the Dead

Summary and Impressions:

Starts of by taking a break from the high school kids and looks at the situation elsewhere. On a remote seaside airport accessible by ship where only the high ranking officials and the staff necessary to run the airport are allowed. But despite being completely isolated someone infected must have been transported in and now zombies roam the runways. A special forces team was already on the island due to terrorism concerns and were able to secure the area, taking out zombies with a sniper rifle.

Cut to the bus stuck in traffic and Hirano and Takagi talk about survival options. They think that the only safe shelter would be smaller island areas such as Okinawa, Hokkaido and Kyushu. Planes become important to getting people there but only if airports are maintained. In the city the containment strategies by the police and armed forces are to use the bridges as choke points which are guarded by using high-powered water cannons as non lethal crowd control tactic. On the bus Mr Shido is becoming increasingly fanatical (like a cult leader) and Hirano, Takagi, Busujima and Ms Marikawa decide to leave the bus. They don’t get far before they are overwhelmed but when under attack Takashi and Rei comes to the rescue on the bike. The cool action moment of the episode is the dramatic entrance of Takashi by jumping the bike off a trailer from a lower freeway to the one above. And of course the other cool moment is a slow-mo bullet scene where Hirano get to use the gun Rei took from the dead cops in the previous episode. After clearing the present danger Ms Marikawa suggests they take shelter in a friend’s apartment nearby. This friend of her’s is the ace military sniper, who we see in the beginning of the episode, and she has a Hummer who Marikawa calls a tank. Looks like next episode will be low on action and based on the preview it is the anime cliche bath episode.

High School of the Dead Episode 4

High School of the Dead Episode 4: Running in the dead

This is a recap episode for the first half with the second half focusing on Rei and Takagi as they make their way to the rendezvous point. It is definitely way too early to be showing a recap of the past events but it is well cut and over fairly quickly. They show the timeline of events interspersed with some cuts to present time. There are also some nice backgrounds of a zombified Japan such as shots of a ramen restaurant and an a wrecked beamer. And we get a quick scene of Mr. Shindo as her continues to be a psychotic perv. capitalising on the fact that he is in charge.

In the second half of the episode Rei and Takagi as they travel to meet up at the police station come across a crashed cop car slammed into by a truck. Rei salvaged the cop’s gun and show some her knowledge with weapons (as the daughter of a cop). Next they stop to fill up on gas, in Japan some of the gas stations are self-service where you have to enter cash or a card before you can fill up. They are out of money so Takagi goes into the store and fulfills a fantasy of many by smashing open a cash register with a baseball bat. Meanwhile a crazed survivor sneaks up on Rei and holds her hostage.

Overall it was an alright episode, pretty pointless but there are some parts worth watching. It is heavy with emotions of Takagi reflecting on the events of the past 24 hours telling us a bit more about the characters and their state of mind.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Review

tokyo magnitude 8.0 screenshot 4-1

Animation ProductionBones

Director Masaki Tachibana

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is an 11 episode drama surrounding the events of a fictional earthquake devastating modern day Tokyo. It is a much welcomed disaster drama based in reality, a departure from the usual robotic or supernatural elements of Bones’ past work (Eureka 7, Rahxephon, Full Metal Alchemist). Masaki Tachibana debuts as a director following storyboard and episode directing for such shows as Noir and Ghost in the Shell: SAC.

The show is centred around Mirai and her brother Yuuki who are caught in the midst of a strong earthquake and have to make the dangerous journey home. They immediately encounter Mari, a young single mother, who promises to guide them after a slight detour to her home where she hopes her daughter and mother are alright.

The show is an amazing piece animation held together by believable drama involving strong characters and events. The quality of animation is very high with interesting depictions of a earthquake damaged Tokyo in the opening sequence and throughout the episodes. When each episode begins we are reminded of the great care they made to depict the situation as realistically as possible as shown with the emergency response, shelters and after effect issues of fires, dangerous buildings and aftershocks. It ends very strongly with an unexpected event that elevates the greatness of the show which was already very impressive.

Rating – A

Genre – Drama, Disaster, Adventure Length – 11 Episode series Year – 2009

Currently not licensed in the US