Katushiro Otomo’s anime adaptation of his manga of the same name, Akira, is now 20 years old (and then some). While the film sadly lacks much of the subtlety and richness of the manga, it nonetheless remains one of the greatest animated stories of all time. One notable aspect of the adaptation is that it was released with an english dubbing in the USA only six months after it was released in Japan. (This is my recollection and wikipedia agrees with me, while IMDb does not.) Not only was that unprecedented, but even now, when all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films are being brought to the US with a high budget translation by Disney, these releases trail by up to a year.
One of the downsides of the film was the original english dubbing was a little… shall we say… cheesy1. As cheesy as the animation was superlative. This much was evident when I saw it for the first time the very week it was released. After the 2nd viewing I noticed something interesting: much of the dialog was composed of the main characters, Kaneda and Tetsuo screaming each others’ names. By 1995 I’d envisioned an abridged version of the movie, nothing more than the clips of those moments stitched together. Back then, the tools to implement my vision were not really available to me, so it was just a thought experiment, but one I’d share with other anime-loving friends now and again.
Imagine my blistering irritation when I saw this commercial on Adult Swim for the animated Inuyasha… that was my idea! Or at least very close. But that was a few years ago, and by then there was QuickTime, and iMovie, and Handbrake, and really I had all the tools I needed!
So now it’s done, and amazingly, I can see something that I didn’t know would be the case when I imagined it: that The Abridged Akira completely encapsulates the emotional struggle between the two characters.
I couldn’t get my hands on the original dubbing, and the 2001 Pioneer release actually has decent voice acting2, so some of what I’d envisioned is missing. Nonetheless, I present to you… The Abridged Akira.
Big, big, big ups to my friend M who supplied the DVD and helped a lot with the initial clip marking and cutting.