When I was home briefly for Easter I noticed my brother (who barely reads or watches anything) was interested in the Akira manga and I hatched a plan. A simple plan, get a copy of the movie (hello local university library!) and make him watch it. Since he seemed to get more out of the movie than I did I'm calling my plan a success.
Summary: Kaneda and Tetsuo are punks living in Neo-Tokyo and spend their time riding their bikes with the rest of their gang and generally pissing off the authorities. But one day they get caught up in a decades old government conspiracy and some interesting facts about the city come to light.
The Good: Now that's an action packed movie and it has a better plot that most action movies which is rather nice. The visuals are as good as everyone makes them out to be and it's easy to see why this movie was such a hit with American anime fans for years. It's not a kid's film at all, looks great, is paced pretty well, dystopias are always popular and there is a bit of a plot. All in all it makes for a satisfying film and there are still few, if any, animated films in the West that are anything like it.
The Bad: While there is a plot in the movie for sure, and it is certainly based off of the manga, a lot of the manga's plot has been stripped away or simplified to fit into the time constraints of the movie and for more explosions. A couple of the characters are completely changed (such as Lady Miyako), the outcome of certain plot points is changed and the plot is more less comprehensible than the manga's. For someone whose never seen the manga the movie probably makes complete sense* but someone whose seen the manga first may be a bit confused as to what's going on since the two do diverge.
The Art: One of the things that Akira is best known for (especially the movie) is the incredible amount of detail in the artwork and it is rather stunning. Coming from an era where everything would have been meticulously hand-drawn, that makes the art even more impressive than it already is. However, this DVD seems to have been remastered so the colors are incredibly bright, bright enough that blood now looks more like orange juice than, well, a red liquid. It's a bit strange to see everything so bright and over-saturated, was the original movie really that brightly colored?
The Music: Since our DVD player is an anglophile my brother and I watched the dub, the Animax one, which by and large was a strong dub. The voices didn't match the lip flaps all the time unfortunately, and the three children's voice actors were incredibly stiff but everyone else was more or less solid (although the fact that everyone mispronounced "akira," putting the emphasis on the second syball instead of the first, was cringe worthy every time it happened). There was one theme that was used several times during the movie (generally it would start up halfway through Kaneda yelling "TETTTTSSSSUUUOOOO!") and it was a really overdramatic piece, almost overdramatic enough to the point of being cheesey.
Not much else to say about it, my brother loved the film (wish I had known this more than a couple of days before his birthday) and I liked what I've read of the manga more. I've always been more of a plot person so this is hardly surprising, but I am happy that I've seen the movie now, now to see if I can track down the rest of the manga.
*except for that ending, I believe that elicited a WTF out of both my brother and I.