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Why does everyone like Akira so much?
MyAnimeList.net Forum »» Anime Discussion »» Series Discussion »» Akira »» Why does everyone like Akira so much?

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#1
07-22-08, 8:34 AM

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Look, I've seen Akira twice now and I have read the manga so i am not one of those guys who only watched three minutes of the series and then dropped it. I actually made it through, crying all the way, and now I wonder: Why does everyone like Akira?

I realize that I'll probably take a lot of flak for this but I've just got to say it. The movie and manga brings nothing new to the genre at all. The animation is decent, not great. The plot is relatively slow, espiecially in the manga. But there is nothing in the series to make it majestic and godlike like everyone seems to think it is.

Sure, it was one of the first anime movies to actually be shown in American theaters but still there are better anime movies that were released about the same time, Case and point: Megazone 23, Vampire Hunter D, etc. So could someone just tell me, straight up, why everyone thinks Akira is so wonderful?
 
#2
07-22-08, 8:39 AM

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Megazone 23 and Vampire Hunter D superior to Akira?!
now how can anyone take you seriously?!

good day
Modified by urau, 07-22-08, 9:18 AM
 
#3
07-22-08, 9:13 AM

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FALLEN101 said:
The movie and manga brings nothing new to the genre at all.


What genre specifically? You do realise this came out in 1988, right? A lot of anime these days are influenced by Akira.

The animation is decent, not great.


Uh, never before seen animation techniques used and still detailed to this date, just decent!?

Look dude, sometimes people ask "why does everyone like Citizen Kane so much?" because they honestly just dont get it, and that's fine, but just understand some works are praised universally by critics and fans alike and retain long long followings, and this isnt random. There's a reason for it. You dont have to like it, you just have to understand it.

Why does everyone like Akira so much? Brilliant direction, unique music, fascinating themes, subtext and commentary on Japan, compelling character interactions and conflicts, unrivalled apocalyptic devastation, killer premise, basically its superb in all areas a moving picture needs to be.

Your like or dislike probably hinges on whether you buy or dig the plot or not. Are you a fan of cyberpunk?

You dont have to like a masterpiece, and yeah I do think Akira is a masterpiece of the anime medium. In movie-land, I dont like Gone with the Wind, but it's still a classic whether I like it or not, and I understand that.

Akira will always be heavily mentioned in History of Anime type books, there will be substantial chapters on the anime, and justly so. If you want to enquire further about why this anime keeps getting mentioned, I would recommend any book by Susan J Napier who could go into it better than me, find her stuff on amazon.com or something. (The Fantastic in Modern Japanese Literature is particularly awesome)
Modified by Beatnik, 07-22-08, 9:16 AM
"I'm starting to think mal is run by Xinil generating electricity on a bicycle." - idklol
 
#4
07-24-08, 10:45 AM

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Okay, first off I am a fan of cyberpunk anime, and cyberpunk in general. (Blade Runner is probably one of my favorite movies as is the book it's based on: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)

Also, I know that Akira did use some new techniques in its artwork. However, Walt Disney animation has had much more influence on anime than the techniques in Akira did. I know that it came out in 1988 as did Megazone 23 Part Two which I personally think has much better animation than Akira.

I know that you said it had "excellent direction" but I almost have to disagree. While they did do a good job of condensing the manga without losing too much I don't think the director really added anything to it. He basically just followed the look of the manga like what was done with V for Vendetta. Which I think is an excellent movie but I think that the comic pretty much directed it for them.

Also, I realize that it is technically "a classic" by anime standards. It was one of the first anime to be sent over to America and if I remember right, it was the first anime to be shown in theaters. I know this. So it should be in the textbooks for that reason alone. (And just so you know I love the movie Citizen Kane. However, Gone with the Wind isn't very good.)

However, I think that other anime have influenced the anime world much more than this movie has. Such as all the Osamu Tezuka (and I know I spelled his name wrong) stuff that was released long before Akira. If anything defined the anime genre it should be Astro Boy. Yet, this series doesn't have nearly as many fans as Akira and that is my problem.

Why is Akira so much more exalted than series such as Astro Boy?

Maybe that should have been my question to begin with.

(And thank you Cihan for at least answering my question instead of just blowing it off like the other guy.)
Modified by FALLEN101, 07-24-08, 10:51 AM
 
#5
07-24-08, 1:12 PM

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FALLEN101 said:
Why is Akira so much more exalted than series such as Astro Boy?

Maybe that should have been my question to begin with.


Hmm, honestly I dont think it is. Sure by most fans in our generation it might be, which is natural because people in any kind of entertainment medium will check out what's more recent than what's very old. But objectively, as in: those History of Anime books I mention, Astro Boy will have a longer chapter dedicated to it than Akira, for sure.

I do think Akira is directed brilliantly, I dont want to go into a big textual analysis (I've written a 40,000 word dissertation on the anime for uni) but it does tackle the transition from manga to anime very well. It's definitely not just the manga put on the screen, that's impossible because of just how long the manga is. The anime leaves most of the quasi-spiritual cultist super power stuff that's in the manga, and instead goes for a more political and philosophical approach. In my dissertation I basically sum up that Akira is commenting on Japan's relationship to modernity, there is so much going on in the anime that it can pass by a lot of people, because they're not looking for it, or are not aware enough of Japan's history to pick up on it.

One of my favourite things is the half-built Olympic stadium which is a reference to the 1964 Olympics held by a Japan that was on the rise after their defeat in WW2. Its juxtoposition like that throughout the anime that makes it so fascinating and not simply a bunch of kids blowing shit up. Akira is continually looking at Japan as a nation, and exploring its relationship to technology and modernity in the 20th century. Infact, its both looking back, and looking forward prophetically. All that bleak depiction actually came true soon after the movie as Japan's economy hit the rocks and they suffered a cultist attack on the subway. Susan J Napier says that Akira just captured Japan's anxieties and fears at the right time, and I have to agree.

It really is a remarkable film.
"I'm starting to think mal is run by Xinil generating electricity on a bicycle." - idklol
 
#6
07-24-08, 1:36 PM

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So much of the reason we talk about Akira is because of that second boom of anime fandom in the early 1990's. Sure it may not deserve it but, you have to admit most people have heard of Akira more than other series maybe even Astroboy in the US(Forigve me for I have sinned).

Anywho Akira is credited for meticulously detailed scenes, exactly lip-synced dialogue(they recorded audio then did the animation), and using more than 160,000 animation cels. Cihan went into the psychological theme and to me is the most interesting part as well.
 
#7
07-27-08, 6:53 PM

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Actually Cihan you seem to know an awful lot about the symbolism in Akira. I honestly hadn't read quite that much into it when I read the manga or when I watched the movie. (And normally I read into anime series pretty deep. If you want me to I can tell you about all the symbolism scene by scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion for hours.) Perhaps a rewatch is in order...

And about the direction, I did say that they did an excellent job of condensing the anime for the screen. The problem is that I didn't like the manga all that much. I just couldn't get into it no matter how hard I tried. (Although I did finish it ... eventually.) But yeah, they did an excellent job of not losing too much of the original message when transfering it to the screen and for that they should get props.

And I guess you're right about the whole second generation of anime thing. I just get so sick of the punks who are always spouting about how wonderful Akira is and how much it changed anime and then when you start talking to them about Astro Boy they just tune you out. One person I talked to about it said, "Dude, it's just some gay little boy in a speedo running around saving the world. It's gay and it did nothing for anime." I was about to beat the crap out of him.

I don't know I guess I just wish that more people would talk about Astro Boy or other great shows like that instead of Akira all the time. And thank you for the informative and well written comments. After the first guy's I was worried that everyone would just blow me off.

I might just have to rewatch Akira after all this.
 
#8
07-28-08, 3:36 AM

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FALLEN101 said:
Actually Cihan you seem to know an awful lot about the symbolism in Akira. I honestly hadn't read quite that much into it when I read the manga or when I watched the movie. (And normally I read into anime series pretty deep. If you want me to I can tell you about all the symbolism scene by scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion for hours.) Perhaps a rewatch is in order...


Honestly I didnt pick up on a lot of it when I watched it for the first few times either. The next time I did watch it, I'd already studied up on Japanese history, and had to force myself to textually analyse it properly, but two books by Susan J Napier were a big help too. The thing with dissertations is that you cant completely rely on your bibliography unfortunately so I had to pull some rabbits out of a hat myself, lol. Lucky for me Napier didnt textually analyse it or I would have had nothing to write about myself...

One person I talked to about it said, "Dude, it's just some gay little boy in a speedo running around saving the world. It's gay and it did nothing for anime." I was about to beat the crap out of him.


Hah, yeah you'll come across lazy people like that. I havent seen the early Big Ones of anime yet either, but I can still respect them for getting us to where we are today. Its why I recently finished the first two Gundam shows, just so I could say "Yep, I've seen them" but also see why these franchises are big in the first place.

I might just have to rewatch Akira after all this.


Susan J Napier, if you really want to go deep into anime. There's a billion books about analysing cinema, but hardly any for anime, for English-speaking readers anyway, so her stuff is essential and genuinely interesting.

You know, I dont think I'd even call Akira 'deep' either. I mean it's got a lot of subtext and metaphor, but when I think of the word 'deep' I think of something that's asking the viewer to do the hard work and figure things out for themselves, not figure the story, but what the story is talking about. I dont think there are many anime out there that have given me that impression. NGE asks a hell of a lot from the viewer, but it's not done well, its already well documented how budget restraints and other things gave the TV series an inconsistent ending, and the director keeps re-doing the whole tale over and over again. I see that series more of an accidental moment of genius, but not as a coherently deep piece of work, its too trite and on the nose at times, and the only thing the viewer is trying to figure out is the plot.

I think Mind Game and anything Ghost in the Shell related are the deepest anime I've probably seen...

But hey, I've gone off topic, yay. Here's a thread I made a while back about 'deep' anime. Looks like my idea of what deep is, is fluctuating, lol. Maybe I'll just listen to the me in that other thread because this post is not making much sense anymore... >_<
"I'm starting to think mal is run by Xinil generating electricity on a bicycle." - idklol
 
#9
08-02-08, 9:00 AM

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to tell you the truth, this was prob. one of the worst anime movies ever, second in my book only to my neighbor tortoro....though its very close.....
"Forged in darkness with wheat harvested from Hell's half acre. Baked by Beelzabub; slathered with mayonnaise beaten from the evil eggs of dark chickens, force-fed to dogs by the hands of a one-eyed madman. Cheese boiled from the rancid utters of fanged cows. Layered with 666 separate meats from an animal which has maggots for blood."
ATHF
 
08-02-08, 9:35 AM

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As someone who really wanted to love Akira, it was an incredible disappointment to me, too. The animation and art really were something special for its time, but the actual content of the movie was just awful. I enjoyed Citizen Kane for the genius it brought to film... the camera work and direction really was pretty brilliant, but they actually had some content in the movie, too! I cannot, however, feel the same way for Akira.

Renji, if you want an even worse anime, try "the Guyver." Embarrassingly, this came out after Akira.
 
08-03-08, 6:14 PM

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Thank you guys for actually agreeing with me that it wasn't that great of a movie. Plotwise, I just didn't like it all that much. It was just a general post-apocalyptic movie sort of like Mad Max or Rollerball, to me nothing special. Also, I just really hated the characters and I never really understood why Tetsuo wanted to kill his friend the main character. (I apologize, I cannot remember his name.)
 
08-04-08, 2:18 AM

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FALLEN101 said:
Thank you guys for actually agreeing with me that it wasn't that great of a movie. Plotwise, I just didn't like it all that much. It was just a general post-apocalyptic movie sort of like Mad Max or Rollerball, to me nothing special. Also, I just really hated the characters and I never really understood why Tetsuo wanted to kill his friend the main character. (I apologize, I cannot remember his name.)


As for the reason Tetsuo wants to kill whatshisface, I don't recall there being a reason either. There's probably something in there, but I'm not curious enough to watch it again and find out. If I had to guess, it'd be out of some sort of hatred toward his former self. Then again, it never made sense to me why some biker kid would suddenly decide to destroy the world, either (nor why anyone would call that a "good plot," though I'm probably missing something as it's been a while since I watched it).

And on the note of hating characters, Cihan taught me something interesting recently in a discussion of NGE (my other great disappointment of classic anime): sometimes you're supposed to hate the characters. When I rewatch NGE someday, I'm going to do so knowing that it's okay that the characters depicted are completely unlikeable, and I think that by coming from this direction I may see something different. When I think about it, I might have a similar reaction to Akira. This is a hard thing for me to do, because my approach to film and anime is very character-based and in Akira I see no one with any worthwhile personality (in NGE, the only character I found remotely likable was the insignificant Touji). I think that is what I hated most about it. Perhaps it is also what you hated?

By the way, that first person who commented? Yeah... the opinions of those who cannot give a reason for insulting you are probably not worth consideration.
 
08-04-08, 4:29 AM

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Throughout the film we see that Tetsuo is always being protected by Kaneda, so he's already got an inferiority complex, I think thats reason enough for attacking Kaneda once he's attained super powers. But along with that, the super powers come at a cost, they make his mind unstable. I mean they've pumped him full of drugs, so essentially the drugs make him psychotic, he's basically drunk on power. He doesnt really want to kill his best friend, he just doesnt want to rely on him anymore, but the experimentation amplifies his feelings into a rage.

This again goes back to my long-winded theory of the movie. You know how Japan's relationship with technology is never more blatant than with the nuclear bombs of 1945? So one of the messages in Akira is the usual "with power comes great responsibility", and what we see with Tetsuo is him, just like a country, gaining a newfound power and him being unable to control it, it takes a life of its own, the wires coming out of him slither around like they're alive, etc, it all grows beyond him and tries to destroy everything, so to make it simple for you guys: dont fuck with technology, it'll fuck you up.

Also, you can see Tetsuo doesnt really want to kill Kaneda at the end when the powers overtake him and he cant control it anymore, he's screaming for help and inside his memories at the end we see how strong their friendship really was.

mr_utopia_man, I think in Akira, there are quite a few characters you can relate to, namely Tetsuo, Kaneda, Akira and the three kids who we see in the last flashback. They're just kids who were messed around with by adults looking for ultimate power, so our sympathy is supposed to lie with them. Sure, throughout most of the movie you'll only observe them objectively, but bit by bit over the movie you should warm up to them and the last scenes of the movie should make you relate to them, because unlike all the adults in the movie, they're not monumental arseholes.
"I'm starting to think mal is run by Xinil generating electricity on a bicycle." - idklol
 
08-04-08, 7:08 AM

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Wow, I read the manga and watched the movie (Twice now, I'm so proud of myself. And I must add, it was a little better this time because I sort of knew what was going on and some of the symbolism that I missed the first time around.) but I still couldn't really understand why Tetsuo wanted to kill Kaneda. Even when I asked my friend Sorrow, who absolutely loves everything Akira, he couldn't really give me a decent answer. And at the end of it I wasn't particularly satisfied. Cihan, you definately give much better answers than him.

But still, I think it was a little extreme of Tetsu to want to kill Kaneda after all they had been through. I mean, sure he was a little overprotective of the people in the biker gang, that's what gang leaders do official ones or unofficial ones. For Christ's sake, the two were best friends until Tetsuo got on the pills and got the power, then his goal was gaining more power and killing Kaneda. I don't think he really watned to kill Kaneda just because he was too overprotective ... (Suddenly, a thought.) ... unless it was to prove to himself that he no longer needed Kaneda's protection because he was stronger than that. To him maybe killing Kaneda was symolic of becoming a man, like us moving away from our parents and going to college. He was getting away from the protection of his elders and protecting himself.

Wow, I think I just answered myself on that forming question. Tell me if you agree or disagree with that one Cihan.
 
08-04-08, 7:38 AM

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Its just an inferiority complex that's magnified by the super powers, the only logical outcome is to kill the person causing the mental anguish. By removing the guy who's protected you all your life, and even after you've gained super powers, is still being a smart-arse, of course you'd want to kill him!

But yeah FALLEN101, I can jump on the 'becoming a man' wagon too. Some anime books have called Kaneda's bike a phallic symbol, which is hilarious but probably true too. :D

But I think the bigger problem here is that you shouldnt look at all stories so literally. Tetsuo's conflict with Kaneda is more interesting on a thematic level than literal. You can look at it either way, both are explainable, but the thematic one is just more interesting.

Literally Tetsuo deep down resents Kaneda, enough to kill him when pushed (friendship can be complex people), and thematically Tetsuo is the successor of Akira, and my theory is that Akira represents Japan's identity.
"I'm starting to think mal is run by Xinil generating electricity on a bicycle." - idklol
 
08-04-08, 8:47 AM

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About the motorcycle being a phallic symbol in Akira ... I could definately believe that. (I'll have to tell my friend who loves motorcycles that the reason he likes them so much is because he feels the need to compensate for his lack of size ... that's a fun conversation starter right there.)

As for the thematic element in the fight between Kaneda and Tetsuo, yeah that's alright too. I mean, the fights between them are pretty cool but I don't know ... I just alway like for the enemies to have more reason for what they are doing. Sure, anyone can be a villain and do a decent job at it but the villians who are actually doing it for something, take for instance Mr. Freeze in Batman he's trying to save his wife, they are the villains that always seem to stand out more in my mind. I mean, if they are doing something wrong because they truly believe it's right then it adds another layer to them. You want to hate them but you just can't no matter how hard you try. (A great example of this is the villian in Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still) Whereas, the villains who do bad just because it's bad, they don't stand out near as much. (Unless they are totally badass, like Vicious from Cowboy Bebop.)

I don't know, it just seems that the inferiority complex does give Tetsuo a reason to do what he does, but to me it doesn't seem like a particularly good reason. However, I am willing to let it slide. I mean, the last battle when Kaneda gets the laser and is shooting at Tetsuo that is pretty cool, reason or not. And I love all the Bruce Lee movies, even though they don't really have much rhyme or reason to them. So yeah...

As for Akira representing Japan I do agree with that. The only real problem that I had with Akira himself is in the manga how he is portrayed as all powerful and then he dies from a simple bullet wound. I wished his death would've been more spectacular but then again after the bomb was dropped on Japan, that wasn't too spectacular of a way to go either.
Modified by FALLEN101, 08-05-08, 6:37 AM
 
08-04-08, 10:53 PM

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I don't know... it was very hard for me to appreciate them. I know they weren't entirely at fault, but they still just didn't have personalities that interested me. Tetsuo and Kaneda in particular just kind of seemed angry at nothing throughout the movie... it's not like the government cover-ups made them angry, because they were just being angry and fighting clown bike gangsters before that. Though admittedly I am not qualified to talk about it anymore as I can't even remember more than a couple scenes involving Akira himself.

A motorcycle as a phallic symbol... hehe. Oh Freud, what have you done to the world?

Akira himself as Japan is an interesting concept... I am almost sad that I don't remember him better. I would like to nitpick and make clear that it was atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima, but whatever. That is an interesting connection.

Sorry... today has been rather exhausting and I don't think my mind is being very clear, thus defeating the purpose of an analysis thread. My apologies if I am lacking in even more eloquence than usual. >_>
 
08-27-08, 9:16 AM

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wow after reading this thread i apreciate akira a bit more than i did before.
 
08-29-08, 7:40 PM

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I'm glad that it helped someone out. It helped me appreciate it more too, though I still can't say that I love it ... ah well, you win some you lose some.
 
09-02-08, 12:22 PM

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The movie and manga brings nothing new to the genre at all. ? are you serious?

This movie helped create everything that we watch today!
 
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