Akira (1988 film)

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Original movie poster.

Akira is an animated film based on the Akira manga and first released in Japanese theaters 1998-07-16. It was directed by the manga's author and illustrator, Katsuhiro Otomo, and produced by Ryohei Suzuki and Shunzo Kato. Like the manga, the movie has a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk theme set in the city of Neo Tokyo which has been rebuilt after being destroyed in World War III. The film follows a biker gang led by Shotaro Kaneda, who gets caught up in a secret military experiment. Kaneda's fellow gang member, Tetsuo Shima, has suddenly gained telekinetic powers after visiting a military hospital and becomes very unstable and dangerous. Tetsuo, who was bullied all his life, is unable to cope with his powers, and he begins destroying the city in a rampage looking for Akira, an extremely powerful and dangerous esper, who he believes can explain his powers to him. Everyone tries to stop Tetsuo before he wakes up Akira.

Although I haven't read the manga, I'm told that the movie differs from it considerably and ignores a large portion of the ending.

Personal

I had heard about this anime for many years before watching it, and only knew it from the cover which shows Kaneda near his red bike. I always assumed it was an action biker movie, and, when I finally watched it while in the mood for mindless action, I was surprised that it was much more gritty and epic.

Status

I do not own this movie, but I have seen the subbed version.

Review

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • I like the design of the cityscapes, motorcycles, and Tetsuo's monstrous form.
  • I like how Tetsuo, when he realizes he is super powerful, dons a red cape.

Bad

  • The film is extremely trope heavy and highly formulaic, for example:
    • Colonel Shikishima is the badass military man who gets right up in the action without flinching and never even attempts to defend himself, yet somehow also never even gets a scratch.
    • Kaneda, despite being just a punk kid, is completely fearless at all times and amazingly skilled.
    • Tetsuo, shortly after learning he has super powers, becomes manically evil. There is no slow descent into madness.
    • Doctor Onishi is too interested in scientific advancement to consider stopping Tetsuo, even after he knows he'll destroy the planet.

Ugly

  • I did not like that Tetsuo's girlfriend, Kaori, is not so much a person, but rather a plot device to help the viewer sympathize with Tetsuo. Her sexual assault was totally unnecessary, and her death was pointless.

Media

Posters

Covers

Fan Art

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Akira
Japanese アキラ Akira Akira

Links

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