Akira Region 4 - A Status Report

by Tony Rogers

    Akira is a seminal work of anime - influencing much of what came later. It was appropriate and wonderful that Pioneer opted to spend a million dollars restoring it. The results were released earlier this year in Region 1 in two different editions - a limited edition version in a commemorative steel tin, and a more normal double disc set for regular release.

    The AV Channel and Madman Entertainment is aware that we know about the Region 1 release of Akira. They wanted to ensure that we knew what they have planned for the Region 4 release later this year.

    The most important thing is the simplest - they do plan to release a Region 4 Akira disc. Their current estimate is November this year, but no one can be completely certain about release schedules at the moment.

    Because the market for anime in Region 4 is relatively small, they are convinced that a full-blown limited edition would be a mistake - it would not sell enough copies to recoup the cost of making it. That makes sense. The result is that they will be releasing a single DVD-9, and filling it with as much as possible.

    Pioneer built a new soundtrack for the special edition - a THX-approved 5.1 English soundtrack. We will be getting this new soundtrack, and a fabulous one it is. We'll be getting the Japanese soundtrack, too, of course - they are sensitive to fan desires in that area. And we'll be getting something extra, too - unlike the R1, ours will include the original Dolby Stereo English dub recorded by Streamline Pictures -  some fans with a sense of history want this dub for nostalgic reasons.

    The extras that will be included are:

The extras that will be omitted are:

    There's a question mark hanging over one extra - the capsule option. This was the most talked-about extra on the R1 because it is quite flashy, but it is of limited value. They are evaluating whether they will have room to include it.

    So what's the verdict? I am pleased that we will be getting an affordable version - Akira is an anime that belongs in every anime fan's collection. If you want everything Akira, then you'll need to buy two versions - the R1 for the additional extras, and the R4 for the Streamline soundtrack (unless you have a copy of the old version, perhaps on laserdisc?). I applaud their choices, and I certainly intend to buy a copy of the disc when it is released, even though I do have a copy of the R1 limited edition. We are lucky in R4 to have a company dedicated to releasing the best of anime in the best form practicable.

Tony Rogers (read my biography)
25th September 2001