Akira (1988 film)

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Original movie poster.

Akira, known in Japan as アキラ [Akira] is an animated movie 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. 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.

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, 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

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 a punk kid, is completely fearless at all times and amazing skilled.
    • Tetsuo, shortly after learning he has super powers, becomes manically evil.
    • 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

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