Title – Akira (1988)
Director – Katsuhiro Ohtomo (Steamboy)
Cast – (voices of) Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Tessho Genda
Plot – Neo-Tokyo 2019, a world changed forever after World War 3. In this city biker gangs roam the streets and political unrest is normal. Life for bike loving teenagers Kaneda (Iwata) and Tetsuo (Sasaki) changes forever when they get embroiled in a government program that threatens to hurtle the world to another catastrophe.
“The future is not a straight line. It is filled with many crossroads. There must be a future that we can choose for ourselves”
Review by Eddie on 9/04/2014
Disclaimer – the below review is for the English subtitled version of the movie
Akira is a film with a mighty reputation, an anime movie that has transcended it’s genres typically more niche fan base and found itself as not only an important part of pop culture but a movie that in its own right is a peak example of the anime industry and a in many circles a respected Sci-Fi classic. Having to admit straight of the bat my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to the Japanese Anime/Manga world Akira is my first taste of films like this and perhaps one of the only ones I will ever partake in.
Undoubtedly a stunning looking film (which is a fantastic feat considering it was hand drawn 26 years ago) Akira is a film filled with more interesting imagery and ideas than a film that melds all of them together into a cohesive or overly satisfying whole. Director Ohtomo’s vision for the 2019 city of Tokyo is a fine work of art, a world brimming with neon advertisements, biker gangs, rundown city landscapes and bright clothes. It’s a world that is eerily familiar to us in this modern age and could be compared to an animated Blade Runner in its visual aesthetic and it’s no wonder that names such as James Cameron dream of one day turning this film into a live action blockbuster. This world which feels so alive is the reason that Akira became such an iconic piece of entertainment for its story leaves a lot to be desired.
Watching Akira today the story feels overly familiar with it basically falling down to what people do when they receive great powers, they either do good or they do bad. The arc of the story can be seen now days in anything from Spider-Man through to Chronicle. Whilst this power play scenario centres the film, seemingly brushed aside arcs such as biker gangs, political unrest in a post-World War 3 world, disaffected youth and various other elements go by quickly and without much comment and one feels the film would of benefited from more of this and less creepy stuffed toys and wrinkly looking man children, but then again that is perhaps a key element to the films bonkers charms.
Akira is clearly a film that more often than not people relate to and respect and thanks to its bucket load of ideas is never dull. Whilst I didn’t personally connect to the film in any type of meaningful way Akira is a beautifully animated film and a film that still acts as a unique entry into the Anime cannon and if you’re like me and have not delved into the world a decent entry point to all its strange glories.
3 not so innocent teddy bears out of 5