Sunday, April 10, 2011

Akira (Streamline and AniMaze Versions)

Akira is often considered the holy grail (if not one of the greatest holy grails) of Japanese animation.  While some may dispute that statement (myself included), there is no denying that Katsuhiro Otomo's considerably complex post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale about power, corruption, street punk gangs, corrupt government officials, and a whole lot more besides got many introduced to the world of Anime.  In its initial 1989 United States premiere, a hastily produced dub (commissioned by the Japanese distributors) was shopped around to many American studios; all except one independent company called Streamline Pictures turned it down.  The theatrical release was limited, but the film played to sell-out crowds and soon became a best-seller on video.  Indeed, many oldschool fans proudly display the Streamline-distributed English release of Akira as a much-sought after prize in their collection, which not only includes the characters speaking with bizarre New York accents, but pronouncing everyone's names in a way that can be, at best, described as pretty laughable.

That said, I do not like this older dub.  At all.  Part of the problem may have been my own trauma from being so horrified by the violence in Akira when I foolishly rented it at the age of thirteen.  Even after giving Anime a second chance, and seeing other considerably better dubs, I didn't find the violence so bothersome, but even so, there was something about this older dub that grinded on me.  Perhaps it was because I felt that nobody involved knew what they were doing.  Or maybe that the script was totally, completely incomprehensible (not at all helped by rather dated "slang" talk obviously shoehorned into the muddled dialogue).  Whatever the case, the Streamline dub of Akira only succeeded in alienating me from the movie; it's hard for me to listen to it without cringing.

When Streamline Pictures collapsed in 1996, Pioneer/Geneon rescued Akira.  Five years later, it was announced that a fresh new dub would be produced to go along with restored picture.  At a cost of $1 million, Otomo's script was painstakingly retranslated and carefully revised, providing a more coherent, less confusing flow to an already super-complex story.  Later, the folks at AniMaze used this revamped screenplay as a guide for the new cast to record their vocals, with precise attention provided to the pronounciations and details that were previously hard to comprehend.  The resulting redub, which I'll refer to as the AniMaze version, is something else.  It's a skillfully executed English track which not only enhanced the film for me, but gradually led me to change my mind about Akira as a whole.  The quality of the writing and the performances are much smoother than the previous version, and best of all, the story is much easier to follow.

TETSUO (Joshua Seth, AniMaze dub; Jan Rabson, Streamline dub) -- Not your typical protagonist for any kind of film, Tetsuo Shima is a deeply insecure, needy teenager who unfortunately comes into contact with a withered boy with psychic powers, gradually degenerates (literally) into a super-powerful, vengeful, psychotic megalomaniac, and, gradually, into an indistinguishable mass of mutating flesh (arguably one of the most horrifying pieces of animation in any film).  If anything, he is a richly tragic character.  A role like this is very demanding, requiring a lot of tangible emotions while providing a touch of vulnerability and insanity.  And that's ultimately what makes Joshua Seth's take on the character so fascinating.  From the start, he brings a very needy tone to his lines, effectively conveying Tetsuo's inner issues.  His resentment/admiration for Kaneda also comes across very clearly with the conflicted delivery of his interactions with him.  Particularly noteworthy are the scenes where he yells at Kaneda for saving him from the Clowns, and later on, when he, at the point of insanity, condescendingly tells him that he no longer needs him--these moments are handled excellently.  As his character turns into a dangerous psychopath, cackling hysterically, Seth lets loose and never holds back, but at the same time he does not make Tetsuo sound "evil".  There is something about the crazed tone of his laugh that gives one the impression that he sounds like a kid ready to use his powers to achieve exactly what he wants.  In essence, his Tetsuo is frightening and sympathetic.  He gives his all to the climactic moments when Tetsuo's pain worsens and ultimately corrupts him.  It's a wonder that Seth is no longer working as a voiceover artist, but if Tetsuo was a dream come true for him, then it could very well indeed be his finest role ever.
Streamline's Jan Rabson, on the other hand, didn't give me the same feel.  In fact, he struck me as the complete opposite.  Aside from sounding like he's in his late forties, his week and needy moments are unconvincing and weak, sounding more like he's reading cue cards instead of actually acting.  He fares even worse when Tetsuo goes crazy, overacting his lines to the point of self-parody.  But what ultimately brings it down is the approach he chooses to take with such moments:  he sounds more like a stereotypical bad guy with zero subtlety or restraint.  He also lacks the nuances of humanity that Joshua provides.  His moments of surprise sound very forced and awkward and even for moments where he's telling Kaneda he no longer needs his help, he simply shouts it with no restraint (Seth, by comparison, delivers it with appropriately dripping bitterness).  Considering that Tetsuo is a much more complex character than Rabson's delivery implies, this was the wrong choice from the get go.  Much of his delivery is laughable, too, notably "They CAN'T DO THIIIS!" and even his cries of pain during the mutation scene sound over exaggerated and forced.  Although the distorted sound effects is a nice touch for that moment, his acting still suffers from confusingly written dialogue "My body won't listen to powers!" and unintentionally funny delivery.  Jan Rabson is a fine voice actor, but his Tetsuo, aside from being miscast, just didn't strike me as one of his finest roles.

KANEDA (Johnny Yong Bosch, AniMaze dub; Cam Clarke, Streamline dub) -- Aside from Tetsuo, the other central character in the film is Kaneda, a cocky, rambunctious biker who serves as the leader of the gang, and probably comes as close to the role of "hero" as possible.  Bosch has a distinctively recognizable "leading teen" voice, and for all the flak he gets for being overexposed, he nonetheless is a very solid choice for this character.  He brings a brash attitude to the character and delivers his lines with zest and enthusiasm.  Most of his dialogue consists of shouting and cursing, and Bosch really sounds like he's having a blast with those moments.  But the scenes where he shows off other aspects of his personality are effective, too; his attempts to sweet-talk the elusive Kei, his internal concern for Tetsuo, and of course, his final scene in the movie.  Johnny has had lots of other roles like this in many other Anime, but Kaneda is definitely up there with one of his finest.
As much as I respect Cam Clarke as a voice actor, his take on the character felt more alienating to me than effective.  His vocal tone is enough to make one think of, say, Michaelangelo or Leonardo from Ninja Turtles, which struck me as very odd from the get-go.  But that's not the reason I found his Kaneda underwhelming.  Half of his "angry" scenes come across as very strained and his attempts at emotion either clash with the onscreen visuals or sound very robotic or over-exaggerated.  (Other such moments, like when he shouts "fight like a MAAAAAAAN!" when he fights Tetsuo only evoke unintentional humor.)  Even his screams of "Tetsuo" toward the end are just overacting with no real force.  In short, this performance gave me the impression that Clarke didn't know where he wanted to go with his role and was just recording his lines in one take.  It's a shame, too, because I really liked him as Kratos in Tales of Symphonia and Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid.

KEI (Wendee Lee, AniMaze dub; Lara Cody, Streamline dub) -- In cahoots with an underground resistance to overthrough the corrupt government of Neo Tokyo, Kei is an extremely strong-willed yet also very fragile terrorist who actually comes across as traumatized when she takes out a cop with one (bloody) shot to the head.  She is something of a love/hate interest for Kaneda, but naturally she becomes an important ally in the latter events of the film, particularly when she is possessed by three emancipated children to stop Tetsuo from his madness (although we're never really told how she got mixed up with them).  Wendee raises her voice slightly to sound like a teenage girl.  It's not too deep to sound otherwise, but it's also not too shrill to come across as convincing either.  I like this balance, as it makes her voice much easier on the ears.  But she also does a great job of bringing out Kei's toughness, vulnerability, and stoicness (when she is possessed by the children toward the climax of the film), without overdoing it.  Her chemistry with Bosch is very believeable, and doesn't hold back in the scenes where she is supposed to raise her voice or scream.  Overall, it is a very solid performance and consistently believeable.
As far as Cody is concerned, she has a considerably higher pitch and there are a few moments of effectiveness, but unfortunately there isn't enough of it.  Most of her acting sounds rushed, forced or too shrill, as if she did it in one take.  (Her "Kaneda" scream at the end has a two-sided effect, on one hand it is indeed strong, but on the other it sounds quite off and unfocused.  While changing that line to "Kaneda!  Can you hear me?" in the new dub was a call on the scriptwriters' part, it at least sounds more consistent and better delivered.)  In all honesty, it's not the worst I've heard from Lara, but she has done better in other roles than this.

COLONEL (Jamieson Pryce, AniMaze dub; Anthony Mozdy, Streamline dub) -- The idea behind the murky narrative of Akira is that the street gangs are the protagonists and that the government officials are the antagonists.  While that may be true for the most part, the Colonel teeters very much toward "hero" territory.  He is a very stern figuree, contemptuous of the current conditions of Neo Tokyo, yet at the same time dedicated to doing the right thing.  He takes action to stop Tetsuo when the latter gets out of control, and is one of the others to survive the (literally) apocalyptic finale.  Pryce lends his booming voice to this character, bringing both a strong gravitas and a sense of authority that gives one the impression that he is not someone to be dismissed.  In addition, he does an excellent job at expressing the Colonel's frustration with the politicians, uneasy alliance with the Doctor, and sounds entirely believeable during the dramatic scenes toward the end.  While there are some places where he comes across as though he's trying to keep up with the lipflaps, he doesn't miss a beat in his acting.  Pryce seems to be born to play characters of this nature, and this is yet another fantastic role for his resume.
Mozdy, on the other hand, gives the character a much raspier tone which would probably work in favor of the Colonel being a world weary soldier, but it doesn’t have the same tone of authority that Pryce brings. He also seems uncertain of where he wants to go with the character, growling and grunting his way through each line with no real force. While there may be at least one line that didn’t sound so bad (“Are you satisfied now, Tetsuo?”) which came across a bit missed in the newer version, many others aren’t as strongly delivered as they could be.  In particular, his shouting at the children to get out of the stadium when Tetsuo metamorphs or his earlier scolding of the doctor aren't forceful enough.  It's just the same gruff tone with no range of emotion.  Pryce has the advantage over Mozdy in those moments, as he sounds much stronger in his delivery.

KAORI (Michelle Ruff, AniMaze dub; Barbara Goodson, Streamline dub) Tetsuo's girlfriend has a small part in the film, and regretably, her role is limited.  She spends most of the time worrying about Tetsuo, and, at one point, is almost raped by the Clown gang leader.  It's hard for the audience to really care, one way or another, when she makes her final exit from the movie.  Which is arguably what makes her role something of a challenge.  For the AniMaze dub, Ruff raises her voice to a high pitch and at times it does come across as strained, but at the same time she does a very good job of conveying the character's emotions.  Her delivery is solid and believeable throughout.
Goodson is less strained in her vocal portrayal of Kaori, but while she tries to make an effort at putting emotion into her role, it didn't sound very natural. It doesn’t help that the character’s dialogue is not all that compelling to begin with, given that she has little to do in the film.  Overall, neither role is particularly outstanding, but Ruff is the better of the two by far.

YAMAGATA (Michael Lindsay, AniMaze dub; Anthony Mozdy, Streamline dub)Taller and lankier than Kaneda and perhaps even more sarcastic, Yamagata is a bit of a bully and an ally, in that while he treats Tetsuo like the runt of the pack, he also expresses concern for him after the latter crashes his bike.  He is also the only member of the Capsules to be murdered by Tetsuo.  In the Animaze dub, he is voiced by Michael Lindsay, who brings a noticeably scrappy but youthful sounding tone which works in favor of the character.  (After all, he is a teenager.)  But what I really liked about his performance was the enthusiasm he shows; his lines are delivered with a genuine liveliness that really gives one the impression that he was having a great time with this role.
If Mozdy’s take on the Colonel is lacking, his Yamagata makes that role sound like Shakespeare. His voice wavers between sounding goofy and/or artificial, and his dialogue ranges from Shatneresque “That. Peabrain!” or rushed with no real energy. His performance is both exaggerated and off from the start, and it delves into pretty forgettable territory fairly fast.

KAI (Anthony Pulcini, AniMaze dub; Bob Bergen, Streamline dub) – Aside from Yamagata and Tetsuo, the only other member of the Capsules we're allowed to get acquainted with is Kai, who seems to have a close friendship with Yamagata.  Aside from Kaneda, Kei, and the Colonel, he is another survival of the cataclysmic climax.  In the AniMaze dub, Pulcini is quite convincing in this character, sounding both very natural and youthful.  He also puts a lot of emotion into his lines, especially in one of his grieving scenes toward the second half of the film.  The same is true of when he embraces Kaneda at the end of the movie and inquires about Tetsuo.
As for Bergen… while his voicing of the character is less distracting than that of Masaru (see below), it's still a very, very lacking performance compared both to Pulcini and the rest of his resume.  Aside from sounding like he's, again, cold reading for most of the show, his emoting moments are not very convincing or natural, coming off as forced more often than not.  The crying scene at the end sounds exaggerated as well.

RYU (Robert Buchholz, AniMaze dub; Steve Kramer, Streamline dub) This character doesn't have many scenes, but from the start it becomes clear that he is the leader of an underground resistance movement trying to overthrow Neo-Tokyo's corrupt government.  It's a bit strange to hear Gene Starwind from Outlaw Star voicing this character, but surprisingly, it works very well.  He has a great "leader" voice and delivers his lines in a very firm, controlled manner.  His final scene in the movie is also very effectively done--Buchholz provides the character with the appropriate weariness required for that moment.  I wouldn't say this is one of Bob's finest roles, but his overall performance is very strong and quite fitting.
Kramer’s voice isn’t terrible, but his acting feels more like reading directly from the script with no genuine emotion. This is not a good showcase of what he’s capable of (he turns in a much better performance as the interrogation officer whom Kaneda calls “old man” -- “pops” if you’re watching the Streamline version), and it doesn’t help that his character is mistranslated as “Roy”. At best, it’s a mediocre performance.

DOCTOR (Simon Isaacson, AniMaze dub; Lewis Lemay, Streamline dub) -- Obsessed with solving the mystery behind Akira, this character is compelled to continue experimenting on Tetsuo... to the point where he disobeys the Colonel's order not to do so when the situation gets eccentrically worse.  It's tempting to say that he comes close to being a major villain, except he's not actively evil, but corrupt from his ambitious plans.  Isaacson's quavering tone lends itself very well to the elderly appearance of the doctor, and he does an excellent job of portraying the Doctor as a somewhat mad but surprisingly sympathetic character.  You can feel the obvious concern in his voice for his subjects as well as the gleeful enthusiasm for his work.  One is reminded of Isaacson's work as Dr. Laughton from Metropolis, but the actor succeeds very well in making the character his own.
Lewis Lemay’s vocal tone is a tad raspier than Simon’s, which is vocally sound.  But like everyone else, he sounds very, very dry, as if he's simply reciting lines from a play with no depth of emotion or comprehension of the material.  In particular, his final moments toward the end of the film suffer from some unintentional humor, probably because of the laughably scripted "cosmic rebirth" (which frankly, doesn't make any sense) or the confused manner in which he delivers it.

KIYOKO (Sandy Fox, AniMaze dub; Melora Harte, Streamline dub) -- As one of three withered children, Kiyoko is also the most clairvoyant.  When we first meet her, we learn that she has dreamt about the eventual downfall of Neo-Tokyo on account of Akira's resurrection.  She can also speak directly to Kei through her mind, causing the latter to recite her directions/exposition to an obviously confused Kaneda.  In many ways, she is still a child, but she is also adult, as well.  How do you portray such a character?  Sandy Fox rises to the task, and she does a solid job of conveying the character's nature, although it should be noted that in order to sound youthful, she raises her voice to a nasally-sounding pitch.  This is a risky choice as it could cause for some aural discomfort.  She sounds especially strained when Kiyoko is warning Tetsuo in a worried tone not to continue on his rampage.  Despite that, her actual acting never feels forced, and Sandy fares especially well during normal dialogue.
Melora Harte’s version is less high-pitched than Sandy’s, which probably works in favor of her character’s withered appearance. At the same time, though, her delivery is inconsistent and all over the place, ranging from an ineffectively delivered, lame-sounding “That’s enough” to a forced, stilted, unbalanced staccato speech.  I don't know if that is due to poor vocal direction or a lack of understanding about the character, but either way, it's not a very inspired performance.  Neither choice is ideal, but Sandy fares much better overall.

TAKASHI (Cody MacKenzie, AniMaze dub; Barbara Goodson, Streamline dub) -- Of the three children, Takashi is something of an unintentional catalyst.  It is his psychic powers that causes Tetsuo to crash, even though he's really trying to shield himself out of fear.  When he is horrified by a person's death, his reponse is to scream, which in turn causes a skyscraper to collapse.  In AniMaze's dub, he is voiced by Cody MacKenzie.  This was probably his first dubbing role, and as such, there are some places where he sounds a bit green, particularly when he's relaying Kiyoko's warning to Tetsuo about awakening Akira's power.  As he gets more comfortable with the character, though, I felt that his delivery improved along with it.  One of his best moments is toward the climax of the film, where he tries to stop Kaneda from leaping after the transformed Tetsuo.  Here he sounds very natural and genuinely worried.
As far as Goodson's take is concerned, I didn't find her particularly effective.  Aside from a lack of genuine emotion, she sounds surprisingly nasally and unconvincing.  I'm sure she could have done a much better job if the production didn't feel so rushed.  One thing that both VAs have in common is that their weak point is a scene about nine minutes in when Takashi reacts with a scream to a terrorist being gunned down.  (This scream, incidentally, causes a tower to collapse.)  Goodson makes the scream raspier sounding than Cody's (which does come across as a little too "polished" sounding), but otherwise that moment is underwhelming and unnatural in both dubs.  Despite this, I still maintain that Cody is the better of the two vocal performances overall.

MASARU (Cody MacKenzie, Geneon dub; Bob Bergen, Streamline dub) -- Masaru is the most authoritative of the children; that is to say, he acts as their leader, as evidenced in the scene where he implores Takashi to come back with them at the beginning of the movie, and later on, when he motivates his friends(?) to attack Tetsuo.  As with Takashi, Masaru is also voiced by Cody MacKenzie; as with that role, his voice is very convincing and for the most part, acquits himself extremely well.  That said, there were a couple of places where I felt his delivery seemed a bit stiff, notably his first line in the film and, toward the end, his "Hi... Akira." (Then again, it would be difficult to imagine how to convey the appropriate response to that pivotal moment.)  I do cut him slack, though, because otherwise his delivery sounds very natural and solid, and if there are any moments of awkwardness, it's not grating enough to bring down his performance as a whole.
While I can see what Bob may have been trying to do with his Masaru, he otherwise comes across as a very strange choice for the character and sounds completely off half the time. Yes, there are a few moments where he's effective, but overall it's not one of Bergen's finest moments. I steer around that argument for Pazu in Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky because he is basically a teenager and either approach (higher or lower pitched) is fitting, but Masaru is a much younger kid (despite having a weary appearance to him) and to have him sound like Grumpy from Care Bears on helium is very distracting.  With all apologies to Bergen, this is not one of his finest moments.

NEZU (Mike Reynolds, Geneon dub; Anthony Mozdy, Streamline dub) -- A minor antagonist, nasty Nezu is the "mole" in the executive council who secretly funds Ryu's terrorist movement to take down the government. Because he only has two scenes in the movie, it's a little difficult for his role to really take character.  Of the two takes, though, Reynolds in the Geneon dub is the most effective; he has a wheezy quality to him that I thought was fitting for his onscreen appearance, and he sounds appropriately slimy.
Mozdy, on the other hand, sounds too exaggerated and cartoony, just like many of the other characters in the older dub.  That his performance is also negligible is also unfortunate.

Other roles in the AniMaze dub are provided by many other California regulars:  Robert Axelrod has a brief role as a terrorist who is gunned down before we have a chance to know him (Shimazaki), John Snyder is the bartender, and Matt Miller, Mike McConnohie, and many more round out the cast.  With the exception of a few lines that seem a bit one-offish, the rest of the cast in AniMaze's dub sounds very solid and are directed extremely well.  The older version's minor characters have a very strange, raspy quality, which, while probably appropriate for a satirical comic book, today sound very hard on the ears.

It's the translation, though, where AniMaze's dub really shines.  As mentioned, Akira is an EXTREMELY difficult movie to follow, and, with all apologies to I. Michael Haller, his adaptation didn't do much to clarify the multiple subplots running alongside the central arc.  There were also several instances in his script that I felt really needed work.  For instance, there's one scene in the early quarter of the film where Kaneda and his friends are punched across the face by their school teacher.  In Streamline's dub, the teacher in question simply shouts "Shut up!" to each of them one by one.  The resulting scene, as such, sounds very confused and even laughable.  By contrast, AniMaze's script (which is based on a fresh new translation of the Japanese script) uses the word "Discipline!" for each time the teacher strikes.  Hearing this, the audience is given a much better implication on what Kaneda's friends are being reprimanded for--according to the liner notes on the DVD, it is a form of capital punishment in vocational schools.  This is one of the many subtle examples which brings the story to a much more believeable tone.

Two other examples include a brief moment where Tetsuo starts to have grotesque hallucinations while the voices of the children shout "Akira!" in his mind.  In Streamline's version, he shouts "I'm... not Akira!" which, again, caused for confusion and seemed like a last-minute scripting issue.  The new dub replaces this line with "I don't know who that is!" which is similarly cryptic, but it's less head-scratching and feels more natural.  In another scene much later on in the film, when Tetsuo is confronted by Kei (who is possessed by the children), after the latter warns him not to press on with his powers any further, Streamline's dub has him shout "stupidity!  Utter stupidity!"  I didn't know what he was reacting about and I had even forgotten at that point that Kei was possessed.  The new dub solves this problem by having Tetsuo shout instead, "It's the KIDS talking!  You're those brats, right?!"  Not only does it remind the audience that Kei is not herself, it's also closer to the subtitled line.  Based on these examples, it is obvious that the scriptwriters involved with the new dub really gave their new script a lot of thought, although considering the time and money put into the current version as opposed to the first one, it really isn't surprising.

Also worthy of mention are that the characters' names are pronounced correctly; so for those of you who still believe that Akira should sound like "A-Kir-rah" and Kaneda as "Ka-nay-da" or Takashi as "Ta-kah-shi" as the older dub describes them, they are not enunciated the same way in the Japanese language track.  This time around, though, we hear "A-kee-ra", "Kah-nae-da", and "Taka-shi".  While the change may seem disorienting, it also shows how much research the AniMaze team did in order to get the names just right.

Is AniMaze's dub of Akira flawless?  Well, for all its accolades, there is one noticeable problem that makes it fall just slightly short of perfection--the lip-sync.  Unlike most other Japanese animated features, Akira had its Japanese dialogue recorded first, and its mouths are more synchronized to its actors, a pratice very similar to Disney animated features.  As such, the words don't always match very well in the dub.  On the other hand, considering the difficulties of ADR and the challenges the writers must have been faced with in getting around this problem, it really doesn't harm the new dub at all.  Only the most carefully trained eye will notice any minor imperfections.  For the most part, though, it's professionally accomplished.  (The older dub is even worse in the synching department, with lines coming across as either mistimed or stopping before a mouth is finished flapping, at least according to one scene in the film where the children are confronting Tetsuo in the hospital's baby room.)

Despite that, the overall effect of AniMaze's dub of Akira ultimately succeeds in making the film fresh and arguably much more accessible even to anyone who may have found it complicated the first time around.  It is definitely an excellent entry for the folks responsible for efforts like Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain, and countless other dubs.  It even converted this once skeptical writer into a fan.  As for the Streamline dub, it may have been passable for its time, but many older dubs from the '80s to the mid '90s have not aged so gracefully over the years, and this is no exception.  I understand that there are many who will disagree with me, but if I ever want to experience Otomo's tale, I'd rather hear AniMaze's version.  If the average viewer gives it a chance, I'm sure they'll have little trouble agreeing.

(Incidentally, both dubs are now available on Funimation's DVD/BD release.  It's up to you to decide which one is to your liking.)


  1. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece (I actually think it's a little overrated,) but that's partly because bloodfests aren't normally my thing. I also thought the story felt forced at times, almost unnatural. Then again, I honestly think that Otomo's a better producer than a director (I loved Metropolis and loathed Steamboy.) As well, I've always thought of Tetsuo as more a tragic villain than an antihero.

    Once again, solid work...

  2. Akira was never really a favorite of mine either, even though I do respect the impact that it had on American audiences. You're probably right about Tetsuo being a tragic hero—I thought of that myself.

    Even so, the newer dub at least makes the movie much more easy to understand plus the vocal direction, acting, and recording quality is much stronger. With the older dub I was even more confused.

  3. Akira is a favorite of mine, although I do not claim to be an Anime fan, and have found little Anime that interests or engages me as much as Akira did and continues to do. I am fan old Streamline dub. Its the one that I saw on HBO when I was 13 (and I loved the raw, unflinching violence, although it did shock me). I can hardly watch the new dub. In my opinion, although the translation is more accurate, and the pronunciation of character names is spot on, the pace of the dialogue stutters and the slang seems to have been softened. I do not know whether adaptations of the script were also meant to better 'explain' the complexities of the plot to the audience, but for me it seems like the newer translation tries to soft-pitch the movie's content, making it easier to digest and more palatable for a wider audience. What attracts me now, to the older dub, after experiencing the new one, is how strange the language is... a lot of it didn't make sense, which is perfect for a post-apocalyptic world set 30 years in the future (at the time it was written) when you're dealing with the inner politics of street gangs, the intrigue of a decadent political structure and the hard-science of pure atomic extra-temporal life energy. I think that, on aesthetic grounds, you could make an argument that the original dub flows with the story better and echoes the tone of the film at large in a much more satisfying way. I would also argue that it's better acted.

    Of course, that said, I think that most people's preference (mine included) is deeply connected to their first experience with the film.

    It would be wonderful to do a blind study with anime fans that have not seen either version, showing one group the Streamline version first and the other the AniMaze dub first (you could use the remastered AniMaze film with the Streamline dub, so image quality would not affect the subjects' responses; I obviously have no problem with the remastered visuals) and then later, after a period of days or weeks, show them the opposite version. I wonder what their impressions would be.