Satan 2016 has come to an end. I won’t go into great lengths about why the past year has been my personal hell. I’m sure my fellow lurkers and followers noticed that posts on here have been scarce. I’m just gonna say that 2017 will be better and I’ll be able to provide more content again.
So let’s start with this pretty little thing that got released here in Germany in December 2016: The limited anniversary box set of the Akira manga. Anniversary because Akira was released in Germany for the first time back in 1991 – which makes this a 25 year anniversary. That’s also why this box is limited to 1,991 pieces and costs 199.10€. 200€ ($210) is quite the proud price. Let’s see if it’s worth it!
The box comes with 2 extras. One of them is the bag you can see above. This is also where I have to address the first problem (in my opinion) that comes with this release. Not off to a good start, eh? So good things first. This bag is by no means of cheap quality. It’s probably one of the most sturdy tote bags I’ve ever seen, so that’s that. The downside, however, is that the design – and most importantly – the size of the actual bag deviates from the promo pictures.
This is what the product picture on the publishers website promises. What you get is a bag half the size. It fits the box absolutely perfect so the size was obviously altered for the very reason of transporting the box in it. But what’s the point? A limited edition box is meant for display only. I’m not gonna drag it from one place to another and I most definitely won’t display a pretty box in a plain black bag. I personally would have preferred the larger inital design, as finding a use for a small tote bag proves to be rather difficult.
The box design, on the other hand, is what we were promised and looks hella fine. Black, white and red are the dominant colors and the look is rather fitting for a manga like Akira.
The artwork extends all around the box, with the title in Katakana on the sides. Don’t ask me why it was neccessary to put the publisher’s name twice. I guess they didn’t want you to forget where this classy collectors item comes from.
I personally love the way this box opens. It’s quite a unique mechanism that’s also nicely hidden when closed. As you can see, the black top of the box flips open to reveal the 6 volumes stacked inside. To protect the lids from wear and tear, they are reinforced from the inside as well, which, however, doesn’t make me stop from breaking out in a sweat every time I open them. I’m just so, so scared of ripping them off, I usually place an item underneath so the lids don’t have to support their own weight and won’t fold all the way.
Also, as a little advice from one collector to the other: Don’t you EVER lift this box by the black top. The fold is definitely the weak spot and I can’t imagine the lids supporting the woopin’ 7,5 kilos this box weighs. Believe me, this thing is heavy. Grab it by the lower red/artwork section and you’re safe.
Extra number 2 are these 6 postcards with artwork on it. I swear to god, postcards are the German publisher’s best friend. I could probably decorate a whole wall with postcards I’ve accumulated through various manga and anime releases I own. Maybe I’ll do that one day.
The overall design of this release is very simplistic and classy, which is a nice change in style from the usual colorful and cheerful manga stuffs that gets released over here in Germany. The arm has a nice metallic paint finish while the rest is matt.
The same black and white color scheme is used all around the individual volumes. They are around 26.5cm in height and 19.5cm in width with the thickness varying from volume to volume.
The volumes themselves are trade paperbacks and feel very sturdy and high quality. The overall matt print design is accentuated by the glossy translucent Katakana-title which can only be seen when held against the light (or if you’re lucky enough that the camera catches it huehuehue).
And if you thought “Oh well, black and white cover design obviously means black and white manga” then HA, THINK AGAIN! The manga itself is aaaaaall color. The volumes are what makes this edition shine in my opinion. Quite literally as well, as glossy paper was used for the pages. Add high quality print to it and you’ve got a real eyecatcher that’s a pleasure to read or just to look at. The type of paper that was used is probably also why the volumes (and therefore the filled box) is so freakin’ heavy.
Sadly enough, there’s a downside again. The volumes of this release are read western style. On the one hand, I find this quite nostalgic, as I am an owner of really old manga that are read this way (Card Captor Sakura being one of them). Yes, kids. There was a time when publishers wanted to ease us dumb fuc*s into the world of Japanese media by reversing the reading direction. So it is kind of fitting for a title like Akira?
On the other hand, if you’re already putting out a expensive af limited collectors edition, I expect the release to be on-par with modern standards, which is the “right” reading direction from right to the left.
Now here is the thing that bothers me most about this release, which includes both the bag and the western style reading. They never told us. You basically bought a box for 200 bucks and had to find out while unboxing it. The bag was folded and sealed together with the box, so there was no way of knowing that the design had changed. Nowhere in the product description or any kind of news article it was stated that the reading direction was the other way around. There was no way of knowing that. I could very well imagine that this would have been a deal breaker for a lot of people.
I assume that the average German manga reader is about the age of – let’s say – 16. 200€ is a lot of money for a 16 year old. Heck, 200€ is a lot of money for ME, and I’m 27. To be honest with you, I didn’t pay that much. Back in December I was working for a book store and got an employee discount. Otherwise I would have probably passed. For this amount of money – which is rare in the manga business – I expect to know what I am buying and I expect publishers to give me that information.
So the conclusion I’m coming to is as follows:
The release itself and especially the individual volumes are of very high quality. (If you understand German, of course and) if you can afford the price and you haven’t read the manga yet, I’d say definitely go for it. It’s a nice box with extras and it’s all color and a classic manga readers should have in their libraries.
For me, personally, it’s a nice box, but it’s not 200bucks-nice. I’m definitely happy that I could get this with my employee discount. The price I payed was completely fine and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wish I could tell people to buy the box used and for a lower price but I’m afraid the price will rise once the box can’t be purchased in stores anymore. It is limited after all.