I bought the 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Akira from Amazon the other day. Well, I should say it arrived at my house the other day. Really, I ordered it months ago. It was one of my favorite movies when I was in college back in the mid 90s, and I watched it countless times on VHS with the crusty English dub, and then countless more times on DVD with the improved dub. If I was feeling extra obnoxious, I would watch it in Japanese with the sub-titles on.
The plot of the movie is kind of a mess, since it tried to smoosh the incredibly detailed world of fiction from the manga of the same name into a 2 hour feature film. I think I sort-of understood what was happening by my 80th watch-through. But it doesn’t really matter, because the real draw of the film is the fantastic hand-drawn animation. It sometimes skips along at a less-than-ideal number of frames, but every second of the movie is visually appealing. Sometimes so much so that it seems overwhelming, but it never feels cluttered or over-saturated with imagery. Even in the most complex of scenes, the visuals all fit into place. No secondary parts of the composition overshadow the main focus of each scene. Each piece fits in wonderfully, like the complex inner workings of a master-crafted watch.
Is every second in the movie actually visually interesting? Could individual frames stand on their own as works of art outright? I felt like, after watching it in glorious HD, that the answer was “hell yes, oh my God, yes, sweet Lord, YES.” But I decided to test out my theory by capturing ten random pieces of the movie.
To do this, I wrote a quick and dirty perl randomizer script that returned a time-stamp in a 00:00:00 format. Then I used VLC to jump to the times the script returned (Ctrl+T brings up a dialogue that lets you enter in the time). I then screencapped whatever was on the screen at that exact moment and saved it as a .png.
The results are far from scientific, since I only did 10 samples. If I could automate the capture process entirely, with a script that randomly generated a time and then captured the screen, I would have a whole blog of just random Akira screenshots. I don’t have anywhere near that sort of ability to program, though.
Here are the shots pulled from randomly-generated time stamps. They’re from the 25th Anniversary DVD because I don’t have a Blu-Ray player to capture them on my computer. Click on them to get the full-screen versions.