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‘Akira’ revs for U.S.

Pioneer to engineer rehabilitation

“Akira,” one of the earliest and most popular films in the Japanese anime film wave, is being restored in preparation for a theatrical re-release in the U.S. this spring.

Long Beach-based Pioneer Entertainment (USA), which specializes in Japanese animated programming, is spending $1 million on the restoration of the violent and gory science-fiction film released in 1988. Pioneer is planning to introduce the first DVD version of the cult favorite and a new VHS edition in the fourth quarter.

The restoration being done by Intl. Video Conversions will include a high-definition mastering and a remixing of the audio components to create a soundtrack in Dolby Digital AC3 Surround Sound. A new English dub will also be created from a fresh translation of the original Japanese script.

“Restoring this extraordinary film will enable Pioneer Entertainment to re-introduce ‘Akira’ to a new generation and seal its place as the benchmark anime film,” Pioneer Entertainment president Yosuke Kobayashi said.

Pic, based on a comicbook, follows teenage motorcycle gang members in post-World War III Tokyo who try to control one of their own members who rages out of control when he is given psychic powers as part of a military experiment.

The most expensive animated film ever produced in Japan at the time was previously released on both VHS and Laserdisc.

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