Plot – A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by two teenagers and a group of psychics – Akira.
Director – Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Released – 1988
Widely considered to be one of the best anime movies ever produced, Akira, was one of my first experiences exploring this genre and one I’ve constantly felt the need to revisit and rediscover ever since, Wonderfully using symbolism and at times surrealism to explore the themes of religion, politics, culture wars and coming of age in a time when new age beliefs are clashing with traditional values. All shown through the eyes of a biker gang in post-apocalyptic Tokyo city.
Artistically, Akira is a beautiful movie. This is a film that highlights the beauty of hand-drawn animation when combined with computer animation, with most of the visuals, character designs and settings faithfully adapted from the original manga. But with this loyalty to the source material comes some issues, namely the complex plot and complicated motifs that can leave you confused and even after repeat viewings you may need to check out the print version to fully understand some of these elements.
The other issue that stems from the film’s adaptation from the manga is the lack of character development. Akira was never expected to be as big overseas as it ended up being, the filmmakers clearly expected that most of the audience would be familiar with the characters through the manga and thus wouldn’t need as much development for the emotional connection to form, which sadly isn’t the case for western viewers like myself.
Packed with metaphorical messages and warnings that are as relevant today as when it was first released, this apocalyptic take on a future world is often as confusing as hell and a little all over the place at times, but neither the less an Iconic and beautiful piece of art, that’s rightfully gained a cult following over the years and formed a wonderful introduction to the interesting a varied Anime genre.