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.

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor Review

Animation ProductionBones

Director Tensai Okamura

Darker Than Black returns for a second season directed again by creator Tensai Okamura. What’s Different? It’s 12 instead of 26 episodes, Yoko Kanno does not return to do the music and Hei A.K.A the Black Reaper is no longer the main character (he’s has more of a supporting role). Instead the focus of this sci-fi mystery is a a young half russian and japanese girl.  Season 2 is very much a side story that provides some continuity of events in the original season.

Despite the change in main character season 2 of DTB starts off very much the same as season 1 with similar conflicts between different contractors and spy agencies. A new Earth threatening disaster arises involving the gates and contractors with various agencies trying to prevent it from happening. The crazy variety of contractor powers are again present and remain as interesting. For example there is a contractor that performs deadly magic tricks and another that is able to absorb surrounding material to form armour and wreck havoc like the hulk.

Compared to the first season it is simply is just not as good. Animation is on par in quality but I think the general plot and characters are less interesting. After watching this I don’t feel as excited about watching further DTB properties. If judged on it’s own merits it still is a decent above average SF anime than stands out among other shows released in 2009.

Rating – B –

Genre – Mystery, Science Fiction, Action Length – 12 Episode series Year – 2009

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 12

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Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 11

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 11 – The Water Bottom is Dry, The Moon is Full

Episode Summary

Episode starts with Suou helping Hei make pelmeni, a russian dish which is a type of round dumpling with a thin dough shell surrounding meat. After this everything is set into motion, Hei goes off to find Yin, Suou goes to meet Shion and section 3 are given the order to kill Izanagi/Shion.

Suou, before seeing Shion, runs into her father who reveals that his dead body that Suou saw was a doll copy set up to protect him. The whole situation surrounding Suou is explained by Dr Pavlichenko that she indeed had died once and brought back with Shion’s power. Suou died when she was 5 but was not brought back until a few years later when Shion made a copy of himself that was flawed. Shion cannot make perfect copies, each time there is one thing different and in this case the difference was gender. This is why they are very similar and both are able to summon a rifle. Memories of Suou up until she was 5 where implanted into this copy along with false memories.

As section 3 locate Suou so do the Americans who are after Izanami and Izanagi as energy source. After a showdown with Shizume they escape but end up leaving Dr Pavlichenko behind who has died from being wounded by a lance throwing contractor.

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Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 10

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 10 -Your Smile On The Street Corner of Lies

Reveals galore in this episode, quite a few mysterious plot points are finally cleared up.

Episode Summary

Suou’s mother (Makimiya Asano) reveals to Kirihara that she saw Suou die in an explosion. So she was understandably shocked to see her daughter return who she had her cremated years ago. She then rationalises that the current Suou must be a copy or clone. The ability to make copies of people is Shion’s contractor ability. However Suou is an incomplete copy and as a result is able to feel some human emotion.

Also revealed is the way Mao lost his human form.  His body was destroyed in the same explosion that killed Suou while he possessed a body of a cat.

Episode ends with Hei returning to the group after a standoff with Kirihara, an orange crescent moon in the sky and Yin shown glowing in a field of flowers.

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Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 9

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 9 – A Sudden Meeting One Day

Episode Summary

Detective duo from first season return to help Suou find her mom. More as comic relief rather than actually doing anything meaningful. Hei also finally sheds his homeless look.

I clearly wasn’t paying much attention about some of the finer elements of the story as a few things were cleared up in this episode. First of all Izanagi is supposed to be Shion, and Izanami is Yin, I wasn’t paying enough attention to realise Izanagi and Inazami are entirely different. The reason as to why there is so much attention to these two are described in the Mitaka Documents as followed “Izanagi gazes upon the false sea bottom, waiting for Izanami. Izanami will cross the sea bottom, and eventually, the two will meet. When they do, heaven and earth will split into two, and the Gate of Hell will open it’s way there. From the Gate will come forth one, a being unknown. And strife will continue for eternity.

Comment – One thing that has become clear about the show is that it isn’t really a top tier show. It seems better than it really is due to the lack of quality this season. It just doesn’t have the complete package, great action but average story. It is still worth watching, especially as it’s core is enjoyable action sci-fi.

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 8

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 8 – On Summer Days, The Sun Sways

Episode Summary

While on the train to Tokyo the Russians with Tanya capture Suou. Hei is offered a job to work with the Russians who threaten to blow up the train. The fight begins once Tanya stops the train. Suou believes she has killed Tanya with her rifle however Shion was the one shooting from distance.

Mitaka Documents are mentioned again and are referred to as Memory of the Future. And Inazami’s power is described as being able to “send contractors to heaven“.

Comment

I feel that the mystery in this season surrounding Inazami and the Mitaka documents are not as interesting as the events in the first season. Although I’m still liking the action set pieces despite Hei not being able to use his contractor powers. I find that I’m only watching this show for the animation, action, and occasional moments of character development.

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Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 7

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 7 – The Doll Sings to the Dancing Snow

As they make their way to Tokyo another contractor is sent by the Russians to capture them. This episode explores Dolls, whether they feel pain and emotions, and contractor’s attachment to them.

Episode Summary

Dr Pavilechenko, Suou’s father, does not seem to be dead. He is spotted by the Russians in Tokyo which might mean he is a doll or has made clones of himself. Also referred to as Izanagi’s father.

Hei hires a smuggler to get them past the blockades looking for them. Successful to the point when the smuggler take off with July. The smuggler intend to sell July as dolls are valuable commodities.

Suou, becoming attached to July,  follows the trail of July’s observation ghost. However she is led to another contractor, Ilia Sokoloff. This contractor’s power is a gaze that puts you to sleep and kills you peacefully. Hei manages to kill him while on top the contractor’s car with his wire.

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Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 6

Darker Than Black Gemini of the Meteor – Episode 6 – A Sweet Fragrance, A Bitter Heart

Awesome episode that reveals the identity of Inazami and closes off the story in Sapporo as they move on to Tokyo.

Episode Summary

Hei is caught in a trap and fights off with Shizume.  However Hei has lost his contractor power and makes his way back to the rest of the team.

Inazami is revealed to be Yin, a doll that was Hei’s partner.

Hei stops Suou from shooting Inazami and flee the scene separately to draw off Hazuki’s attention.

Suou is attacked by Norio’s contractor mother, saved by an observation ghost which turns out to be Yin.

They head to tokyo where the submarine is headed with Yin/Inazami.

Suou makes an agreement with Hei to stop using her contractor power if Hei stops drinking.

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