Note: The following review DOESN\'T contain spoilers.
Akira is a very controversial piece of art — but a piece of art regardless. It isn\'t easy to watch it, and it isn\'t easy to review it, either: Akira the movie is such an ambitious and influential project that grasping it in its entirety is far from being trivial.
Akira\'s story is among those where you need either high intuitive and perceptive abilities to understand everything that goes on, or to watch it several times. It doesn\'t really help that Katsuhiro Otomo stuffed almost 2000 pages of story into 2 hours of screen time, but at least the movie
has considerably good re-watch potential, which might help to release part of the strain.
What we have is a post-WWIII Tokyo of not-too-distant future, led by greedy politicians and torn apart by terrorists trying to bring down the corrupt power and biker gangs that roam the streets. There is no usual hi-tech cyberpunk fantasies about living online, free information or global communication — just a demonstratively dystopic setting involving modern society abandoned to rot on its own. This is driven up further by the secret military experiments in attempts to magnify and control human psychic powers, which actually led to the WWIII in the first place. These social, political and semi-scientific, semi-mystical aspects mix and intertwine as a couple of teenagers get accidentally involved in all this mess.
Where Akira definitely wins is the art department, being a clear milestone in animation. It\'s been almost 20 years since its release, and I\'ve yet to see many movies, especially anime, drawn with this amount of detail. There are very few still shots, every movement is scrutinized and animated at 24 frames per second, creating a remarkably fluid image. Dialogues are all lip-synched and everything looks as natural as it was possible to do at the time.
Character design can be called dubious, but personally I like it, since it\'s considerably truthful to actual real-life images, where people actually tend to have noses instead of some weird pointy bumps, and eyes that don\'t take half the entire face. Most of the characters are pretty much ugly, and it helps them match the gloomy setting really well. The only weak spot in it is considerably small difference in facial design, which is why some characters (especially younger ones) look similar to each other.
Sound and music
Akira is actually rather silent most of the time. However, when the sound plays, it\'s almost always highly dynamic and spot-on. Most of the soundtrack is dominated by industrial beats, minimalistic ethnic motifs and chants, and is intended to set the certain ambience in the movie, so you\'ll likely fail to enjoy it too much outside of it. But for what it\'s worth, the sound work is really good in the movie, especially considering the time of its production.
I can\'t say there\'s too much to it when it comes to characters. The movie\'s limited length (compared to manga at least) didn\'t leave too much for character development, so you mostly see more-or-less clear manifestations of certain archetypes rather than complex emotional and psychological twists, even though not all of them are simple to read through. Some appear initially negative but proven to be decent later, while others appear good at first but eventually show themselves to be corrupt.
Pretty much the only characters who let you get some insights into their backstory are Kaneda and Tetsuo, especially the latter. Both are almost equally confused by the events engulfing them (kinda like the viewer, actually), and it\'s very interesting to track their relationships throughout the movie.
This is a very subjective matter, but personally, Akira is one of the most enjoyable movies I\'ve ever seen. It has a lot of shock value (assuming you\'re shocked by immense amounts of graphic violence), it has furious action, it has plot riddles, it has mystery, drama and horror elements, all presented in a coherent (but sometimes overly gruesome) manner. Some people regard Akira to be a gratuitous bloodbath, but there\'s much more to it than the amount of gore, it\'s just that those people are unable to look deeper than that. There is a lot of symbolism ingrained underneath the visual layer, and it takes some time and effort to find all the links to cultural and other contexts.
That being said, if you enjoyed watching it for the first time, chances are you will enjoy it the second time around, and probably even more at that. The final 20 minutes literally eat my head from inside every time I rewatch them, much like End of Evangelion or other similar movies. And for this alone I think it deserves its 10.
Overall, I\'m still of the opinion that Akira is a masterpiece and deserves watching, whether you like anime (or any form of animation, actually) or not, at least for its great cultural and historic value. There are many movies and cartoons that are far more enjoyable, and it\'s not like Akira is the absolute limit of anything and everything. But as more and more titles surpass it in various respects, Akira stays like the Colossus of Rhodes, being a great achievement on its own and one of the most influential landmarks in the history of anime for years to come.
Akira is a film adapted from the manga series of the same name by Katsuhiro Otomo. The film was a huge success, even outside its native Japan, and is often heralded as one of the all-time greatest anime ever produced. I first saw this film in 2007, and I have no desire to see it again. I know "classic" anime and I tend to not mix very well, but I cannot understand why this film was and still is championed as a "great" example of anime. The only thing great about this film is how it teaches you what NOT to film in an action
It's the future in Tokyo, or Neo-Tokyo, and everything has gone to Hell. The streets are a warzone between gangs, the government, and everyone else. In between all of this are a number of children with psychic powers that enable them to do pretty much whatever they want. One of these children is a teenager from a biker gang named Tetsuo. He and his friend Kaneda get caught up in the government's attempt to . . .
I'm sorry, I'm giving this plot way too much credit. Do you want to know what I recall this movie being about? It's a series of one senseless act of violence after another. Sure, there are scenes of expository dialog, and an important flashback, but this is pretty much the entire movie right here: someone gets the crap beaten out of them. Someone else gets shot. Someone else gets exploded. Someone else gets the crap beaten out of them. Throw in nonsensical psychic powers, among even more people dying whether they deserve it or not, throw in one of the worst endings in cinematic history, roll credits. The film does not even bother to explain most of the things that happen. It's pretty much like all those mindless action flicks that plagued Hollywood in the 1980s, except animated. Then again, Akira was made in 1988, so I guess it was just following the leader in this regard. 3/10.
Akira is famous for its fluid animation. Indeed, it is the oldest anime I've seen that has motion as fluid as what you would expect from an American animated film. As gruesome as the violence is, it is well-crafted. So why then does this only get a 6? Two problems. One, the coloring. I know, this is a bit unfair, seeing as how Akira is a pre-digital anime, but the coloring is drab for the most part. At times, it is fitting of its dystopian setting, but other times, it's just, well, drab. And two, this film has some of the most bland character designs I have ever seen in a theatrical animated film. It's like the filmmakers weren't even trying in this aspect. This and the coloring bogs down my score, but at least there's no choppiness in the animation. 6/10.
The sound is alright. The soundtrack is eccentric, but works. The sound effects do their job. The ending credits song is lame retro 80s synth fluff, but it could've been worse.
I got to see parts of Akira in both Japanese and the English dub by Geneon. The Japanese dub is superb. Unlike most anime, Akira's Japanese dialog was recorded before the animation work was completed, much like an American animation. Unfortunately, because of this, foreign language dubs look off compared to the original. Now, dub purists are probably thinking, "But . . . but . . . Johnny Yong Bosch! Wendee Lee! Joshua Seth!" Yes, I love them too, but honestly, if for whatever morbid reason you do decide to watch Akira, you're better off seeing it in Japanese with the subtitles on. 7/10.
Characterization? What characterization? This, along with the threadbare plot, is what killed Akira for me. Who are these characters? Why are they doing the things they are doing? Why should I care for them? Only one character gets any such development, and that's Tetsuo. We learn his motivation and his desire to strike back at the world, and why he and Kaneda are conflicted with fighting each other at the end, but that is it. Seriously, that's all the characterization you get in this film. When a character dies, you don't care for them, because you know nothing about them. The characters whose names I even remember are Kaneda, Tetsuo, and Akira, and that's only because the first two keep shouting each other's name, and the last has his name in the title. Like, for example, who was that girl Kaneda kept hitting on? The one that, thanks to the lackluster character designs, looks like a boy? What was her purpose in all of this? What about all those government guys? The rival biker gang? The other children with psychic powers? And why does Akira do what he does in the ending? None of this is either elaborated, or done in a way to make me care as an audience member. 2/10.
Enjoyment: If all you want to see are brutal, pointless acts of violence, then you're in luck, because that's exactly what Akira delivers, in spades. If you want more than that, you're going to be sorely disappointed. I know this is a compressed adaptation of a manga, and the manga is supposedly better, (I don't know, I haven't read the manga version of Akira) but couldn't Otomo have made the anime at least stand on its own for those who haven't read the manga? As it is, it is a confusing mess, chock to the brim with sensationalized violence. Now, mind you, I don't mind seeing mature content in my entertainment. What I do mind is seeing "mature" content used only as a means to shock and awe the audience. That's all Akira does, and somehow, it managed to delude a large number of anime fans into thinking it was "deep" and "meaningful", when all it really is is a crappy 80s action flick that dissolves into nothing by the end. That's about as much sense as I can make out of the ending anyways. 3/10.
Now before any of you say "You just hate Akira because you didn't see it back when it first came out!", I want to point out that that is a moot point to make. My favorite film by Hayao Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky, predates Akira by two years, and is a much, much, MUCH more enjoyable film than this. And also, Katsuhiro Otomo would go on to make the film Steamboy, which, unlike Akira, actually has a proper plot, characters worth giving a damn about, really nice coloring, and slightly less bland character art. So really, there's no point in seeing Akira anymore, except to laugh at it, because as far as I'm concerned, the anime version of Akira is nothing more than a joke.
Often hailed as a classic, I can kind of see where the praises are coming from: this kind of hard hitting, apocolyptic anime always seem to attract acclaim. But personally, I couldn't really get into it that much. Or perhaps it's because I just didn't get it.
My main problem with "Akira" is the vagueness of the story. I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of these abstract, philosophical stories to begin with, but "Akira" also suffers from a lack of completeness, which only exacerbated my confusion even more. I was watching it with a friend and he was having to constantly explain what to
me what was happening using knowledge that he'd accumulated from reading the manga (and in fact he didn't fully understand everything either as he hasn't read all the manga). My own view on this is that an anime like this should be able to stand on its own - I shouldn't have to go digging into the manga just to understand what is going on.
The visuals of "Akira" was supposedly amazing at the time. But if it was, stylistically I don't think it's aged particularly gracefully, though it hasn't done too badly either. Some of the background scenery still looks great, but the characters designs have an odd, "wobbly" kind of feel to them.
Even though I didn't find the music particularly to my taste, I appreciate the fact that it tries to do something different. The chant heavy soundtrack used had a primitive and alien feel to it. In the context of the anime, it worked quite well in a weird way and didn't sound out of place. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the voices, which sounded rather horrific on the dub, with the sub sounding a little but not much better.
Other than Tetsuo's character, which was quite well done, I found the rest of the character to be a little wooden, which probably affected my enjoyment of this anime a bit. And as you probably will have guessed by now, I'm not too impressed regarding the grand, complicated plot underneath that's nigh on impossible to follow unless you've read the manga.
If you like those philosophical kind of anime, you'll probably enjoy "Akira". I can't deny that it's an interesting watch, but for me, that's about as far as it goes.
So I finally got a chance to sit down and watch it, namely the English dub. What do I think about it? It was pretty good for an anime that came out in the 1980’s and it holds up pretty well to this day. I was very surprised that the show was actually directed by the writer of Akira as well. Not many people can write a manga and get to direct it as well when it comes to movie. This means that the show would have come out how he wanted to and not changed around as it went from hand to hand. Just
how close is this to the manga? Well as of now, I have not read the manga so I can’t answer that.
Some things do bother me with the story and mostly with the characters though it is more based on my preference of character then anything else. I just think that the biker gangs felt a bit forced. I never been in one, never even been near a gang like that before so I can’t say for sure but I think they wouldn’t be so open with what they were doing for so long without already being caught by the cops. I may just be analyzing it a bit too much but it just got on my nerves. That also goes for Kaneda always trying to get into Kei’s pants.
The main story had a very deep underlining meaning both in psychology and in humanity itself. It’s hard not to spoil anything about this when most of it happens at the end but I do have to talk about this. There is a back and forth aspect that seems to happen of what science could learn but at what price. It’s there when they mess with Tetsuo’s brain and the results that happen after. Let me tell you, the results were not pretty. We are always striving for learning more about ourselves and to push ourselves to the max but at what price do we pay for such an idea? Are we even willing to push us to a point that we ourselves are not considered human anymore? And what would happen if such a power was placed in the hands of someone who didn’t fully understand how to use it? Something that Kiyoko says in the show rings pretty true no matter what you’re talking about. I went something like ‘when you are given this much power, you must chose how you use it.’ Sort of similar to Spiderman’s Uncle telling him ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ but the idea is still the same.
The animation was rather gory and bloody for the most part with a lot of dark depressing textures. The place they lived really did look like a back ally pig sty but I believe that was what they were going for. For the time this came out, the artwork is rather good and I was surprised by just how much detail they put into the background as well as some of the movements. They even placed the streaks from the tail lights of the bikes in. I don’t think I have seen that much detail put into a show that was hand drawn except for Studio Ghibi’s movies. While the design of the characters were pretty realistic as far as anime can go without not looking like anime, they were still rather simple and it is understandable when people have to draw them time and time again. Once in a while, the lighting and shading didn’t work all that well and I don’t remember much shading on the ‘children’ except for the wrinkles.
The voice acting was surprisingly well done for the time it was dubbed. I can understand why this movie was what got anime going in America because the voice acting was what I would of imagined the characters to sound like. Because of the somewhat realistic artwork and the constant yelling that characters did, the lip sink suffered slightly. I can only say slightly because what they did do; they did a damn good job in doing it. One person who stood out really well was Kiyoko’s voice actor (The female little child) Melora Harte. For those of you wondering, I did watch the 1988 release of the dubbing and not the new 2001 version; at least I believe it to be.
I can truly understand why this is called a cult classic, being as a symbol of ‘greatness’ in the anime world. As the years have not been all that kind to it, it may not hold that title for animation and voice acting but its story is still something that should be kept in the minds of those who watch it. If you haven’t watched it, you are missing out even if you don’t like this stuff.
'Pioneering', 'classic', 'groundbreaking', 'compelling', 'masterpiece' - all words which describe this film upon a quick Google search.
I had very high hopes for Akira - as anyone would - after endless recommendations from friends and being touted as the most important anime film of all time. But after watching, I was incredibly disappointed. THIS is supposed to be the most influential anime film? THIS? Never in my life have I witnessed something so mediocre be so overrated.
Let us discuss the various aspects of the film
The plot could have a lot of promise - a secret government project of scientists experimenting upon humans in order to
give them telekinetic powers. However, it is executed horribly. Little is explained in detail, the narrative is basically a wild goose chase of everyone trying to find Tetsuo and stop his powers spiralling out of control. There are more explosions and violence than actual narrative points and honestly, its just a big big mess. If you just enjoy people shooting at one another and an irritating teenage boy getting incredibly angry and blowing stuff up every scene, then I guess maybe this is for you, but quite frankly Akira offers little else.
Okay I know the manga was written in the early 80s. BUT WHY DOES THE CHARACTER DESIGN HAVE TO BE SO INCREDIBLY UGLY???? Kaneda, Tetsuo and some other guy from the biker gang (no idea his name because Akira doesn't care about characters at all- but more on that later) all look TOO ALIKE and it took me half of the film to be able to decipher between them. Also, why does the girl look exactly like Kaneda? Did the illustrator have literally no creativity at all? STUPID!!!!!
What characters? Absolutely none of the characters are developed, likeable or interesting. They are all incredibly two dimensional, most of them barely have a personality, and quite frankly I didnt even care if the protagonist Kaneda lived or died by the end of it. The withered little children were the only characters who even slightly intrigued me, yet we never find out any backstory for them.
I honestly can't express what a disappointment this film is. I often heard people talk about how much Kanye West loves Akira and now, it makes sense - an incredibly overrated film for an incredibly overrated man.
It kept me mildly entertained, but I think that's only because I watched it with a friend and had lots of snacks - had I been alone, I would've turned this off way before the halfway point.
I've been watching anime for years and I have to say Akira is one of the best pieces of work i have ever came a crossed. The animation and action sequences hold up very well in comparison to some of the animes coming out to date. The pacing is almost perfect and the art and music are simply a work of art you really feel like you're in that world. Classics are classics for a reason and Akira is a classic anime.
Caution there might be a few spoilers contained in this review.
The movie starts off with a large mysterious explosion which destroys Tokyo, the movie
then begins 31 years later in Neo Tokyo. Akira for the first 20 minutes or so follows a punk high school bike gang and takes you through a bit of their daily routine so you can build a relationship and relate with their characters. Right off the bat you're introduced to 2 of the main characters in the movie, Tetsuo and kaneda. Kaneda is the leader of the bike gang and is more or less what you would expect from a lead anime character he has a big heart never gives up. As far as Tetsuo goes he is portrayed as a weaker character that is often taken care of by Kaneda. Following a clash with a rival bike gang the tone of the movie changes, as an unknown kid is introduced to the plot the movie switches from punk bike gangs to a more complex story about mysterious abilities, government experiments and cover-ups.The movie uses alot of references about the war and bombing of Hiroshima, if you follow along closely you will see there references used such as when Testua blew up and created that nuclear explosion, well the same area in which that took place is when Hiroshima was bombed from the americans. Although it doesn't have a direct story telling of the bombing, there is references used that point to a post apocalyptic setting and the history of war and military power.
Directly following this Kaneda and the rest of his gang are dragged off to jail while the unknown kid and Tetsuo are taken by the government. The action in Akira is very well paced at no point do you feel overwhelmed with continuous fight scenes or long drawn out scenes of talking either. From art direction to music this movie is a masterpiece especially when you factor in when it was made. It is a very violent and dark movie well in it's right though as the violent and dark overtones are needed to portray the story properly, this is not a Disney movie and to spite the art style is not really a movie for children simply because besides the violence there is no way a child would be able to follow the plot, nor would they be appropriate for a child.
I think it is important to point out that while I enjoyed the movie a lot there are some things that had a few issues with nothing big enough for you not to watch the movie but that should be mentioned non the less to make this review as thorough as possible. The first of which is the story, while it is complex and you get a pretty good understanding of what's going on I felt that it could have delved deeper into the history of Akira and some of the other characters. At times it seemed like they were trying to compress something much larger into a 2 hour and 5 minute movie. How ever, if you read the manga, the original story is far greater. So i really recommend you check out the manga if you want to see how the entire story is portrayed. It is much longer. Its a shame that a movie was cut so short.
Akira is one of the best anime movies I have seen in all my years of watching anime. It is in all respects a classic that should be seen by people interested in or thinking of getting into anime or who's already an anime fan but haven't seen it yet. If you like action or complex stories then you will enjoy Akira, it's a solid mixture of both never giving too much of one and too little of the other and while you probably won't fully understand the story from the movie or relate with some of the characters it's a minor spot on a beautiful work of art. But you should definitely check out the manga as thats the original story and where the movie took place from. The manga is fleshed out alot more and dives deeper into Japanese modern history, the war and the characters.
I hope this review helps clear up the argument or debating on if this movie is a movie worth checking out! In all honestly i can say you probably won't be disappointing!
Oh Akira, where would anime be without you? Would Ghost in the Shell ever have come about without your cyberpunk aesthetics that influenced anime more than any other work, this side of Blade Runner? Would The Matrix have ever come about without either of those two works? The answer is probably no, and so I do have to offer some thanks to Akira for helping to inspire people from inside and outside Japan.
That said, I still think that Akira is largely a hodge-podge of crap.
The first few moments of Akira are breathtaking. We take in the lights, the sights and sounds of neo-Tokyo, a hauntingly
familiar yet eerily distant dilapidated, frustrated city, rife with neon lights, traffic noise, and trash.
Sadly, it's all downhill from there.
See, Akira is a trilogy of 6 hours or so wrapped up in a 2 hour film. It introduces new characters, violence, and important plot devices faster than the motorbikes the characters blaze down the highway with. For a lot of people, this rushed pace, combined with the "weirdness" factor is going to be a turnoff. It is actually rather surprising to me that this anime is as popular and mainstream as it is, because I do not consider it very accessible at all.
The terrible pacing, sadly, becomes a bit of a snowball affect, or feedback loop. The more that is introduced the viewer, the more that needs to be introduced to try to clear up the former, but it doesn't really work out and now you're left with all kinds of new ideas that all feel horribly underutilized or misused. It doesn't help that the dialogue feels a bit like 80s Dragon Ball Z; lots and lots of yelling, little substance or insight into the characters or plot. Banal might be the word to use.
On that note, the central love story of sorts that is introduced halfway through the film is developed so fast, you might not even know it exists until you sit back and think about it for a bit, only to realize it was way too sloppy and feels forced. The characters never had much experience together, but before you know it, their trying desperately to save one another at their own peril.
To be fair, the original manga is a large scale work, but that doesn't eliminate all the blame for this mess.
Problem is, because there are so many characters and loose ends regarding them, it's hard to feel attachment, or even repulsion towards any of the characters. It feels sort of like they are all running like a chicken with their heads cut off, if I can use that term. Kaneda is not a compelling protagonist, and his rivalry with Tetsuo and his rise to power is suitably mishandled and tough to swallow. And the bottom line is, most of these characters are stock stereotypes. Kaneda is a bit of a womanizing gang leader. Tetsuo is... well, we don't really know what he is, but it's apparently enough for him to threaten every living thing on the planet. And yell a lot at Kaneda and everyone else.
A lot of people seem to like the soundtrack and sounds of Akira. While I admit the roaring motorbikes and city noises are great, the music seems inadequate. It peaks at all the wrong times, trying to drum up drama when there is little to go on. Perhaps part of it has been lost in translation over the years and it was more effective in the 80s. I myself am not convinced.
It's all too bad, because their are interesting ideas here; themes of fear of technology, class struggle, and more, but once again, they're rarely actually explored; merely hinted at by the film. We're not ever told why it's relevant or why we should sympathize or feel antagonistic at any of them, besides the shock use of violence. When you throw in the psychic powers and government conspiracy and the like, the whole thing just feels bloated without having real substance. It's a film lacking exposition; the aged psychic children, and powers, Akira, it's all barebones and too little to go on. Relevancy is never established.
I can't leave without saying that the violence is over the top, and not in a cool, stylized way. It more borders on ridiculous. But maybe that's fitting in a film as ridiculous as this. For me? I'll try to find something more thought out and compelling.
Akira is a 1988 Japanese Animated film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo based on Otomo’s manga of the same name.
In the year 1988 a mysterious explosion destroys Tokyo while supposedly also causing World War III. 31 years later, in the year 2019, a new city, entitled Neo-Tokyo, is built which is in a state of constant chaos due to constant skirmishes between rival biker gangs as well as barrages of anti-government attacks carried out by various revolutionary groups. This is the stetting of Akira.
Within this setting the plot focuses on two major characters. Shotaro Kaneda, the arrogant leader of a biker gang, and his childhood friend/rival,
Tetsuo Shima, who throughout the film develops strange psychic powers that are frighteningly powerful and prove to cause much destruction.
The first thing that most people will probably notice is the animation of this film because it is of an extremely high quality. Japanese animation, or anime as most people call it, is sometimes criticized for having “limited animation”. Japanese animators generally don’t aim for the same fluidity of motion that, say, American animators usually do. Plus they are often guilty of cutting corners by doing things such as giving characters static faces while they are talking. To be fair though the art in a lot of anime is usually a bit more detailed than what is usually seen in American animation. With that said however none of these criticisms can be applied to Akira because every scene has extremely detailed and fluid animation that, in my opinion at least, rivals that of Disney. If someone asked me to show him or her the animation of Akira I would show a river because that is how fluid it is.
One reason why the animation is especially impressive is due to the fact that a majority of the film takes place at night. Now this might not seem like a significant point to some so let me explain. Similar to those who work on shooting live action films, animators, while working on scenes that take place at night, have to deal with lighting, or at least with presenting the illusion of lighting. This is something that can lead to animation becoming more complicated since, not only do animators have to worry about drawing shadows in realistic ways, they also have to use more colors in order to make everything fit in with the supposed lighting in scenes. It is for this reason that many animators try to avoid doing scenes that take place at night. But rather than taking the easy way out the animators working on Akira toughed it out and made sure that every scene at night was colored in a way that gave the illusion of realistic lighting and the results are truly astounding. It is for this reason that I have the upmost respect for those who worked on animating this beast.
In fact it is because of the animation that I recommend watching this film with the Japanese voices, even if you prefer to watch anime with English dubbing. This is not because the English dubbings available are bad per say, it is just that Akira is a very special case. For almost all anime the animation is finished before all the dialogue is recorded. What this means is that the animation for the mouths in anime aren’t done in a way that follows the delivery given by the voice actors. Instead the animation is usually edited after the voices are recorded so that the mouths move within the time in which voices are heard. This means that mouths will just open and close during certain intervals. Because of this it generally isn’t that jarring to watch an anime with an English dubbing since the Japanese voices wouldn’t really fit the animation for the mouths either. With Akira however the Japanese voices were recorded beforehand so the animators were able to animate the mouths so that they follow the delivery of the Japanese voice actors. For that reason alone I believe that everyone should watch this film with the Japanese audio since it not only will fit the visuals, but it will also allow viewers to really appreciate the extra bit of effort that the animators put into the mouths.
And while I’m on the topic of audio let me just say that the soundtrack by Shoji Yamashiro is pretty amazing. Many of the tracks have a unique combination of techno, traditional Asian instruments, and distorted singing/chanting. This ultimately culminates to create music that is intense enough to accentuate a lot of the chaos that ends up happening on screen while also sounding very unique. Although it should be noted that there are one or two somber tracks that do help calm down the mood on the rare occasion that the film decides to take a breather.
While Akira might stand out from its peers because of the technical quality of its animation, the animation is not the only reason why the film is well known among otaku. The other, and possibly more significant, reason why Akira stands out from its fellow animated brethren is due to its level of violence. In the years that I have been watching animated works there are few non-exploitation anime and films in general that approach the sheer amount of violence that Akira showcases. At times it seems like the film can’t go five minutes without having some violent act taking place, weather it be an explosion, a bout between rival biker gangs, governmental forces gunning down rebellious citizens, or Testuo using his powers to plaster the ground with someone else’s guts. But while the violence might seem a bit gratuitous to some, I actually think it is an ultimately positive aspect of the film. Neo-Tokyo is supposed to be a chaotic and brutal city and if people weren’t getting beaten and murdered left and right then the city would hardly seem as brutal as it does within the film. Plus it also does good job of making the audience never get too comfortable during the intense action scenes since you are always aware that death is never far away from anyone who lives in Neo-Tokyo.
Even though Akira is a very unique and technically impressive film, is isn’t without some flaws. The film is a 2-hour adaptation of an over 2000-page manga and while the film does manage to condense the central plot into the allotted run time, this does seem to present a few issues. First of all, since the film has to cover a lot of material in a relatively short amount of time the pacing is really jacked up. I can really only think of two or three scenes in which the audience is really given a scene devoid of either really exciting action or plot exposition. Now while some might argue that this is a good thing since it means that the film never gets boring, it is also a factor that may serve to confuse some viewers.
Now while I am a firm believer that the majority of scenes in a film should serve to move the story along, at least when talking about plot-driven films, I do recognize the need for quiet time where not much is happening. While these scenes might seem boring and meaningless to some, I believe they can serve an important purpose within many films and stories. They give the audience a chance to take a breather so that they don’t get overwhelmed with plot details or action as well as giving them a chance to reflect on what has happened thus far. But in Akira it seems that almost every scene has characters either spouting plot exposition or participating in some really intense and really bloody violence. This means that the viewer can’t really take time to think about what they had just seen, since there aren’t any scenes that don’t serve to either put the characters in danger or move the plot along. This can be seen as an especially big problem for Akira since many may be tempted to step away from the plot to just admire the fluidity of the animation or the extremely beautiful and densely detailed backgrounds. This is probably one of the major reasons why I see a lot of people call the film confusing. It also doesn’t help that some of the dialogue is a bit more cryptic than it needs to be.
Also, the film doesn’t address some details with the amount of explanation that some may desire. For example, within the film there are a number of people who are fighting the government in a revolutionary movement. While the government of Neo-Tokyo is shown to be rather inept in a few scenes of the film, it is never really explained why people are so angry with the government. Many other details like this such as the affect that World War III on the world, the nature of Tetsuo’s powers, and where these angst-ridden teenagers go when they aren’t hanging out with each other go on unexplained. While I’m sure some won’t mind, I know I certainly didn’t when I watched this film for the first time, I recognize that some may get annoyed with the lack of explanation that the film gives pertaining to some details. While I would’ve hated it if this film were to be bogged down by too much exposition I feel that the film would have been improved if some of these topics were more thoroughly explored. At the very least it would have given the world of the film more depth. Plus it is not like Katsuhiro Otomo didn’t write this story without thinking a lot of this though. Having read it in its entirety, I can truthfully say that the manga did go more in depth with certain aspects of the plot, such as the anti-government movement that various characters are a part of. This leads me to believe that the reason why a lot of things in the film were left unexplained was more due to time constraints than lazy writing. Personally, even though I am usually a strong opponent of people splitting up stories into parts, I believe that the plot of Akira might have been better if it was split between two films. This would have allowed Otomo to provide the audience more calm and soothing scenes, while also providing time to add more depth to the world.
And for my last form of criticism I will just warn people that at a few moments during the third act of the film the dialogue devolves into characters just screaming each other’s names really loudly.
But while these things are certainly flaws, I can’t ignore that they somewhat serve as a double-edged sword. While the unrelenting pace and lack of explanation might serve to confuse and aggravate some viewers, I can’t deny that they also make the film seem even more chaotic. The most common tagline that I’ve seen in promotional material for Akira is “Neo-Tokyo is about to explode”. This tagline I feel perfectly encapsulates the feeling that the setting gives off. Saying that Neo-Tokyo is about to explode suggests that things are building up, that the city is practically bursting with problems and its soon gonna let it all out in a glorious explosion. In a sense the plot and pacing reflects this very chaotic feeling. Within the film the viewer is shown countless problems which are plaguing Neo-Tokyo. These include, but are not limited to, gang violence, poor education, trigger-happy government forces, trigger-happy revolutionary forces, as well as a government in which nothing ever gets done. While the scatterbrain way that the film decides to show the audience all these problems certainly do hurt the plot, at least in my opinion, I also feel they help the setting seem even more doomed. The kinetic pacing of the film as well as the sheer amount of the problems it shows suggests to the viewer that Neo-Tokyo is a city full of problems that no one really has time to solve. The fact that said problems aren’t really ever given full explanations ultimately hinders the audience’s ability to think up solutions to these problems thus they reach a sort of unsolvable status within the minds of viewers. This all ends up making Neo-Tokyo seem all the more ugly and all the more hopeless. In no way am I saying that these points make up for the ways that the flaws within the writing detract from the film’s quality. I’m just saying that it is flawed in a way that does help reinforce some ideas about the film’s setting. Neo-Tokyo was a city built to help Japanese citizens deal with the destruction of Tokyo. It is then is ironic that it seems to be a city constantly on the brink of destruction, at least as it exists within the year of 2019. But while it is a setting that is constantly in a state of turmoil, I am still able to find things to enjoy every time I visit.
While the screenplay might be badly written in terms of plot, it does a surprisingly good job with creating sympathy for the protagonists of the film. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t too fond on a lot of the characters when I was first watching this film a few years ago. Kaneda, Testuo, and friends seemed like completely unlikeable violent and arrogant teenaged boys who liked to spend all their time hitting rival bikers with steel pipes. But as the film goes on and you learn more about these character’s pasts and their environment, you begin to feel bad for them. While you may be repulsed by their violent tendencies, you realize that these are kids who had to deal with living in the horrible dump that is Neo-Tokyo. Thus they had to deal with all the problems and oppression of the city has while growing up. Because of this, I at least, gained a strange understanding for the anti-authoritative attitude as well as a strange sort of sympathy for the characters. There are also a fair amount of scenes within the film that really show that these characters have a sense of camaraderie and that they actually do care about each other. This in turn makes it easier for the audience to care about them since most of the characters all seem to put at least some significance on each other’s lives. It is also easy to feel bad for these characters since they end up getting involved in a lot of conflicts that they don’t personally want to being in and then just end up suffering because of it. Kaneda gets involved with an anti-government group not because he actually believes in their cause. Rather he just joining them because the government has taken Tetsuo away from him and he believes that following the group will allow him to protect his friend. Similarly, Testuo never really chose to get psychic powers, he just sort of got them and because of that scientists take possession of him so that they can study him. Inevitably these powers end up causing harm to his mental state, his physical state, and the lives of those around him and in that sense his character is extremely tragic. By the last third of the film, despite the fact that I found both characters to be unlikeable at first, I had quite a bit of sympathy for both Kaneda and Testuo and was really rooting for both of them to reach a happy conclusion. This in the end makes it all the more sad when the tragic and self-destructive aspects of their friendship become more apparent. I must also admit that part of the reason that I was able to feel sympathetic towards these teenagers was partially due to the character design. There is just something about the art, probably the more roundish heads, which make the characters seem more juvenile and thus easier to feel sympathy towards, since you think, well they probably don’t know any better. While Akira’s violence might make it seem like it doesn’t value human life all that much, it’s characters do ultimately give the film a sad emotional core.
Now before I begin to wrap this review up I cannot forget to mention the significance of his film. Akira was the film that introduced a lot of Americans to Japanese anime and it is likely that if the film was never made and was never release on home video in America, the international anime fan community would never be as big as it is today. Plus, while Akira was certainly a landmark in terms of Japanese animation, one can see its influence on many American films such as Chronicle and The Matrix. Akira might not be quite great enough to be considered a masterpiece but it has certainly left an impression on culture, or at least the nerdy side of culture, which can still be felt today. Also I must say that the film has what might be the most epic and craziest climaxes that I have ever seen. In fact, I would say that the climax alone makes watching the film a worthwhile endeavor, at least if you aren’t particularly squeamish.
Akira is a film about a lot of things but above all it is a film about destruction. Within the film one can witness the destruction of many human lives, of body parts, of friendships, of cities, of governments, and of societies. Heck, some might even argue that while watching, you can see the film’s plot get destroyed before your very eyes. Yet it is ironic how a film about so much destruction was able to lead to the production of so much beautiful animation, to the creation of some very real and sympathetic characters, as well as, arguably, an entire international community of fans. Perhaps like the phoenix, Akira is a film that proves that new life and thoughts can be born out of death and destruction. Akira is not a perfect film. It’s writing is too flawed for me to give it that high of praise. What Akira really is though is a thrilling, destructive, bloody, and melancholic roller coaster ride and while it may be a ride that is held together by duck tape and staples, it is one that I thoroughly enjoy every time I experience it.
Over one Billion Yen. Ten million dollars. This was the price the industry paid to create timeless animation. This was the toll Katsuhiro Otomo paid to adapt almost two thousand pages of his magnum opus. One which he struggled to finish. Every page taking more time than the last. Each penstroke weighing heavier on his hand. All culminating in a dinner with Alejandro Jodorowsky, director of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, as he was coming off the heels of Sante Sangre. The dinner is what eventually made Otomo close the final chapter to Akira.
Yet this was two years after the release of the
film. Two years after Kaneda's cardinal motorbike was brought to life. Screeching tires were given more frames, plumes of smoke began to move, a sound was given to still images. Otomo didn't stop there. There was no use for mere adaptation, a recreation, a facade of the real thing. He wanted to bring something original to the medium. That billion yen he pocketed was to be used. Don't cut away from the animation, don't hide the imperfections. Improve upon them.
738 pages of design were turned into over two hours of entertainment. The actors brought in didn't lip sync. That wasn't what Akira was going to be. Established norms in the industry were of no concern. Otomo was here to transgress. Pre-scored dialogue was utilized. Actors offered their full range of emotions, not just what was required for their voices to match the already animated characters. The entire film was made around that. Characters were drawn to match the actors. A symbiotic relationship between artist and art.
160,000 cells. Each one reliant on the last to complete the cut. Kaneda walks to his bike. Tetsuo grasps his capsules, as a reference to his now-defunct gang and the drugs in hand. Kinetic blasts of telekinesis showcased in smooth effects animation crack the pavement. A soundtrack by an entire collective, music that literally breathes with the film. A panting, tired chorus back-ends tension, carnivalesque, chirping vocals sting during the climax. It's all symbiotic. The sound director, Shoji Yamashiro intercut the same song cycle throughout the entire film. Each layer of the music adding on to one another creating cacophony during the third act.
Hundreds of cuts within a narrative that folds in on itself. Fades linger, yet never overstay their welcome. It's brisk, not simply to adapt the long source, but to convey a mood. The tension doesn't melt because there is no time for it too. The bike doesn't slow down, so neither should you. From one scene to the next, from laser beams to jail cells. It's all as fluid as the animation. Each cut is purposeful, the lingering fades, paused, still, like reminders from a turning page. The last glimpse of a moment in the past. Seyama's editing persists through continuity, broken only once to outline an abrupt meeting.
Take a backseat to Tetsuo and his best friend Kenada. During a usual gang conflict, Tetsuo has a chance run-in with an esper boy. Explosions, gunfire, and the military descend upon them and take Tetsuo with the boy esper. From there, Tetsuo discovers his own innate powers. Ones which he uses to rebel further, to finally take a stand for himself. He becomes a figure for the people, the same ones that want to so vigorously fight against the norm but their strength is limited. He represents the outlook of many, both fictional and real. Tetsuo finds himself, a physically weak boy always protected by his best friend, lost. Lost in the rebellion, the reform, the need to be who he wants to be without understanding the true cause of his innate desire.
Aesthetic sensibility may be subjective, but aesthetic influence is not. Akira's palette is dusky, old, and cracking. The city has spots of neon, the lights are bright, yet the story that's told isn't. We follow roaming gangs, we follow Kaneda, Tetsuo, bikers, dealers. Through delinquent schools that are of no meaning, relationships that exist from necessity, carnal desires that eat away at a society still unrecovered from the trauma of the past. The Akira. A gleaming, blinding eruption that destroyed the entirety of Tokyo, yet spurred life that forever exists as a shadow of what it was. The city of Neo-Tokyo is filled with people remembering the past. Remembering what was. Ignoring the present. Hoping for the future. Hoping for another Akira, hoping for anything, physical or not, to change their lives again.
Parallels to Hiroshima and Nagasaki are common in Japanese entertainment. The post-bomb society of Neo-Tokyo is a grim reminder that while many may like to forget, their every move is motivated as an expression of rebellion against the past. This society is a reflection of the truth behind the false visage put up by Japan. These bikers, the ones that fight and kill each other aren't of major concern to the police. This is a common facet of this society. The old city looms, both literally and metaphorically. People riot for tax reform yet the change never comes. Dystopia, cyberpunk sensibilities, these are elements prevalent in so much sci-fi, yet in Akira's case, birthed from a culture not afraid of these changes, but familiar with them.
Now we look forward. The timelessness of classic, 2D animation is on display. While Akira may have been an immensely expensive product and heavy risk for Japan at the time, it was one that so easily paid off by not looking dated whatsoever. Undoubtedly within the late-80s aesthetic, Akira breaks the notion that "old can't hold". Easily comparable to the aesthetic achievements of 2001: A Space Odyssey, not simply due to audacity and success, but due to the methods employed not being remotely commonplace. Yet, much like so many revolutionary products at the time, Akira struggled for recognition. Both in terms of viewers and appreciation.
"Unmarketable to the west." Spoken without vision, without an eye for achievement. Who else but Steven Spielberg, a visionary creator behind some of the most beloved films of all time, to say such insipid and close-minded remarks. Such an astounding, inspirational name incapable of recognizing originality and non-insular creation. Spielberg, of course, paid recompense for such remarks, not through apology but through homage. Blatant as can be. From unmarketable to marketing, Kenada's signature bike features alongside Spielberg's blockbuster, Ready Player One, in one of the most titular and exhilarating action scenes of the year. That's enough, Steven, apology accepted.
Inception, The Matrix, Chronicle, Stranger Things, all products of Akira. Each one borrowing, with love, to create their own deviations from the film. Each element taken is another expanded upon. From simple homages, such as Kanye West's "Stronger", to creating entire characters based on the concept, with Stranger Things. It's not that it wasn't marketable, it's that the market took time to recognize. So's the forever churning gears of inspiration, a budding seed to a bursting cacoon.
Take one step into an art piece inspired by many that inspires many. That's the beauty of entertainment. Kubrick may hold responsibility for some Akira, much like Otomo holds responsibility for some Midnight Special. The world design makes up for the character design, the meta-narrative makes up for the base narrative. It's the images that stick with you, the idea that style is somehow lapped by substance is ignorant. Style, in this case, is the substance. It's images that eat away at your thoughts. A bulbous, disfigured, horrific amalgamation of flesh and wires that acts like fertilizer to the roots of creatives and their eventual ideas. If there is anything to love Akira for, it's that.
First off the story is taken from a well developed manga.. A six epic manga style story that can actually be considered an ominbus but still just a really big manga. xD
Start out with cool biker gang and leader on cool bike. But wait a minute .... who's that other biker gang coming to harass them. Just some random gang for action?! Important to the plot? Why heck no. Not in this movie. In fact, this biker gang that for some reason choose to dress like the Jokers from Batman Beyond come in and mess with our heroes and are never seen from again.
all this a strange boy walks out into the street. And he appears old. Real old. Heck maybe it will be explained later. Seems important to the plot to have a kid, who is like fifty walk out onto the middle of the street. And there are cops surrounding the kid. Uh oh, story is picking up. Ain't it.
Tetsowo (whatever) crashes and Kanda and the rest of his gang go to jail or back to school pen for juvenile delinquents while Tetsowo goes to a hospital.
Kanada sees a pretty girl .... that looks like a boy and springs her and his friends out of jail or wherever they were, by causing a riot. Pretty clever our hero. He tries to hit on her but she will have none of it. In fact, it turns out she works for some kind of resistance. A resistance, oh boy where is this going?
So to sum up, we have an old looking kid that the government is interested in. A rebellious biker gang, two in fact and one has a cool looking bike the other dresses up like clowns. and A resistance! 0.0 A resistance a against what? It's so secret not even the audience knows. I think they want to bring down the government. From how this movie played out you'll never know it.
But Kanada's got that nice tough guy image who won't rat out this do nothing resistance, so they let him go.
Meanwhile Tetsowo leaves the hospital. He just walks out. But not before the army just ran some test on him to see if he was psychic? Why they do that? Just because?
Well Tetsowo goes to see his old girlfriend but a couple of nameless bad@$$ street punks see him and because he's weak and a punk, he gets his butt whooped and she almost gets raped. Thank goodness, Kanada is there in just the nick of time.
Oh yeah, Tetsowo is doing drugs because his guts just open up and spill out onto the sidewalk. As he realize it's all an illusion. The army comes and takes the druged Tetsowo away leaving behind his friends, important to the plot, they die by Tetsowo hands er mind ... gee I hope I didn't let loose any spoilers making it Kanada's job to go out and kill him.
So now Tetsowo is in another hospital and freaky stuff starts happening to him. More drugs, yes! but more old kids!! Is the cause of these weird events, and not drugs. Drugs given to him by the military of Japan to keep his powers in check, so it's okay that he's doing drugs. Oh did I mention that one of the old kids is the kid he crashed into 0.0 This kid who ran away at the beginning now seems content to live at the army base. WHY?? Maybe that old little psychic girl decided to give him some. She seems quite chummy with that fat old kid psychic one. I think he ran away because he wasn't feeling the love in the group. It's up to your imagination of why he ran away in the first place and got hit by Tetsowo.
Meanwhile the leader of this army and a scientist is going over the data about Akira and how Tetsowo matches. They comment on how strong Tetsowo should be compared to Akira. All in the present tense. Mind you. Which will become important and will seem very odd later on.
The leader of the army wants to know whats the best way to control Tetsowo for the good of Japan. And there's a few bits of him talking to show you that he isn't out for power but rather to protect japan.
Back at the hospital, Tetsowo has gotten rough with the three old kids and through this shake down of old child-like little people, he learns that he has psychic powers. And again he walks out of the hospital but this time he kills a number of people just because he can.
Uh oh he is enjoying it.
He goes back to the bar and kills everybody. Including his former biker gang. Wait! I forgot to mention the bar at the beginning. No wait, the bar was only seen for about a minute and it didn't have Kanada or Tetsowo in it, just random people who where going to die 30 mins later in it. Yep, I was right to leave it out.
Completely not important to the plot. Like a lot of things in this movie.
side note: The biker gang at the beginning is the clown biker gang. We finally find that out. Now that the story is almost complete.
From the shake down, Tetsowo learns about Akira. I forget either from the old kids or the army leader he learns about this guy named Akira and he sets out to free him. Of course, a bunch tanks get in the way. No problem for the newly powerful Tetsowo. The army doesn't want him to awaken Akira, but he's going to do it anyway. He's such a bad boy. ;)
After tearing up half the city, Tetsowo finally gets to Akira, only to learn that he's dead. Wait what?!
So the army built a vault and sent tanks and missiles after Tetsowo to keep him from waking up .... a dead kid. A brain in a jar no less.
Okay at this point, I'm really pissed off.
Kanada hot boy looking girlfriend gets possed by this guru and she talks about a bacteria with the power of a human to help explain Tetsowo to the audience and to a revengeful Kanada.
Not only does this boy looking girl gets posed but she also through her contacts with this useless resistance is able to get Kanada a laser rifle.
It's laser time kiddies.
Kanada tries to avenge his fallen comrades with laser action and the Army leader tries to shoot Tetsowo with a laser cannon orbiting in space. Wait? Why didn't he do that at the beginning when those tanks weren't working ... oh well, who cares.
Well both attempts fail and Tetsowo gets more powerful but wait, what's this .... He's turning into a monster. A monster that's eating up all of Tokyo! And he's now crying out for Kanada to save him.
but wait what's this those three old kids have come out of nowhere to save the day.
Kanada gets sucked into the monster and the three old kids go into it to rescue him.
inside the monster known as Tetsowo there is a montage of his early childhood of being bullied and about the kids, who got old and never grew up. At least physically.
I have watched this thing five times. Everybody loves this movie. I keep on watching it thinking, maybe this time I will see the thing everybody else sees or I will finally understand something i didn't see before. I just keep saying to myself why did I waste my 90 minutes on this crap. In reality, the only thing I found is that people invent something that isn't there. I did agree with one person's interpretation of the movie but I still didn't like. It just fails on sooo many levels story wise.
OK... I'm sure you can tell by the scores I gave this anime that I found this anime to be RIDICULOUSLY overrated. I've watched it maybe 5-7 times in my life. First time was just to watch what all the fuss was about, 2 through the last was "maybe I missed the reason why people thought this was so great." the very last time I saw it, I remember saying "Nope, I was right. Still weak."
When people say "arguably the greatest film of all time", I'll be first in line to be on the arguing side. The two main characters of the story are both
whiney and lame. The ending was creepy and gross, and if this anime weren't drawn so damn beautifully then I would bet lots of money that it would lose a substantial portion of its fanbase.
It was the very first full length anime movie I ever saw. I was in my early teens, and luckily for whoever enjoys reading my reviews I was born with that "there's gotta be better than this" kinda curiosity and gave other animes a chance. Next film was Ninja Scroll, much better, much more entertaining.
So yeah, Akira... summed up in a gesture... I give it an apathetic shoulder shrug any day of the week.
I first watched Akira a long time ago and the first time I watched it, I will admit, I was very confused and very creeped out at a lot of parts. I watched it again a few years later and this time I understood it much better and could actually sit through watching it without squirming and the overall concept of Akira is extremely fascinating, it really is a good movie with a lot of meaning in it, and it is extremely moving, as well. The storyline takes place in a place where most of would recognize and not totally feel out of place, but
the overall feeling of the place is dangerous and reckless and not a place you would necessarily want to be, but a place you could definitely imagine yourself being. It starts off kind of normal and then suddenly takes a very odd turn in being very science-fictiony and going into many deeper meanings of children, loyalty, family, love and believing what's wrong and right.
The animation is very good for when the anime is from and even now, watching it makes it feel better because it does have older, rougher animation, giving the feeling of the anime an even more dangerous and unfamiliar one.
The music is very good and also goes extremely well with the movie and the voice actors are excellent in English and Japanese.
You must remember, this movie was made in 1988. If you're going to critique it accurately, you must take this into account. This anime led the way for the growing popularity of anime in the West, with Akira considered a forerunner of the second wave of anime fandom that began in the early 1990s. One of the reasons for the movie's success was the highly advanced quality of its animation. At the time, most anime was notorious for cutting production corners with limited motion, such as having only the characters' mouths move while their faces remained static. Akira broke from this trend with meticulously detailed
scenes, exactingly lip-synched dialogue — a first for an anime production (voices were recorded before the animation was completed, rather than the opposite) — and super-fluid motion as realized in the film's more than 160,000 animation cels. Notable motifs in the film include youth culture, delinquency, psychic awareness, social unrest and future uncertainty weighed against the historical spectre of nuclear destruction and Japan's post-war economic revival.
In a nutshell:
made it possible for you and I to watch anime
Not only for its time, but even still today, its suspense, paranormal structure, and plot are highly regarded.
This anime definitely deserves its spot among the classics. The details and politcs of the film coupled with its interesting characters and mind-boggling themes make it highly enjoyable to watch time and again. But be warned, this is most certainly NOT for everyone.
One thing that is sure to turn many viewers away, and that should be mentioned, is that this anime is rated as it is for a reason. If language, graphic violence, protrayl of drug use, and sexual stitautions bother you, then stay away. There is an attempted rape scene that I find to be difficult to sit through. The world in which this
movie occurs is a very corrupt one on all fronts: morally, socially, politically, psychologically, and physically. It is very dark at points as such. However, they do not go over the top to make you terribly uncomfortable, I feel. The aim, while it does want to shock you, is not specifically geared towards grossing you out. Yes, it looks at the darker vices dwelling in human nature, but it's not as in your face about it as, say, Elfen Lied. Everything unsettling about the movie is all meant to enhance and make more real the world in which it occurs, it does not go beyond that. I'm not sure how best to explain it, but let me put it this way, Elfen Lied did not sit well with me and I didn't like it, but for some reason, Akira, while also full of violence and sinister themes, I enjoyed. The evil undertones of the Akira world make it seem real and less repulsive, if that makes any sense.
Another thing that can turn people off is the art style. Personally, I very much like the art style, but I will admit that the first time I encountered it, I was a bit reluctant to keep watching. It's very unique and the aim of the film isn't to make really pretty characters to look at but realistic ones. The buildings and vehicles of the film seem to have a life of their own and were awarded just as much thought and attention to design as the characters. For this reason, Kaneda's motorcycle, the coolest design of one I've ever seen, I consider to be a favorite character of mine; yes, character. The bike is so full of personality that it deserves character status.
While I would argue that the film does have some amusing moments, it is not at all light-hearted. Plus, said amusing moments are mainly amusing to me because I get a kick out of sarcastic, satirical humor. So, you humor lovers won't get much out of this one. It's also not for you romance people. Romance, while present, is not one of the main drives of the film and is almost tacked in as a short of after thought. This one is mainly for those of you out there who like to think about things or watch something and ask "What....the....". If you like Stephen King novels, then I'd wager that you'd like this, even though it's not strickly horror. That is just an opinion of mine. I am a Stephen King fan and if you think about it, Akira has an attitude akin to one of his books. If I'm wrong on that though, sorry.
The major themes of the film seem to be the nature of friendship and betrayl and how far man can truly force his evolution and pursuit of progress before it overtakes him and leads to a regression. Basically, it's about limits and knowing where they lie.
I forewarn you now that the one big downside of the film is that many, many things go unaswered and unaddressed. This is likely because the film attempted to condense a manga of monsterous proportions into a single movie. As a result, the two are very different. In fact, while Akira the manga actually deals mainly with a boy named Akira, Akira the movie awards the same boy I think a total of a minute of screen time. It might be even less. I'm including dialogue spoken by him as well as the images shown of him. The movie is really more about Testuo, an underappreciated social outcast and weakling gone berserk, and Kaneda, a street smart but book ignorant punk who's head of a street gang. The relationship between the two and polarity of their characters makes their interactions highly entertaing to watch.
All in all, I would recommend this movie. You should try it out if only to say you've seen it.
Critic's Log - Earthdate: December 3, 2012. Review #25: AKIRA
The time has come, This is my 25th review and I have a special movie to talk about. I will now review the 1988 landmark anime film... AKIRA!
In the year 2019, 31 years have passed since the outbreak of World War III. In the city of Neo-Tokyo, all authority is waging a never-ending struggle against underground forces that virtually rules the shattered city, A top-secret child with amazing powers of the minds breaks free from custody and accidentally involves a biker gang in the project. The incident triggers psychic
powers within one of the bikers named Tetsuo, and he ends up being taken by the army and being experimented on. Tetsuo's mind has been warped and he is on a path to destruction.
To be technical, this is a TMS Entertainment production and this anime film is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (who also created the manga of the same name). It is also a landmark anime for one obvious reason. For 1988, the animation blew everyone away. When I first saw Akira, I was blown away. I knew it was made in 1988 before I saw it but I find it almost hard to believe that it was made in the late 80's. It has fluent animation, the action scenes sometimes looks badass. I love the Bike Chase scene in the first 15 minutes of the film. The animation still looks amazing. If you didn't research this movie on Wikipedia, I'll tell you this then. This anime film has more than 160,000 animation cels throughout the two-hour experience. There was a whole lot of effort put into the making of this film. This film was one hell of an achievement.
The animation is not the only good point in the movie, although it may be the contributing reason on why most people would like this movie. The music by Yamashirogumi Geinoh really fits the movie well. I like some of the ominous themes in this movie. The music is mesmerizing throughout the movie.
As far as voice acting goes. This will be a lengthy topic to discuss. Oh well, here goes... The Japanese Cast is not bad, in fact it's pretty good. Mitsuo Iwata is fine as Kaneda, Nozomu Sasaki is good as Tetsuo, and Mami Koyama is not bad as Kei. There's a lot of seiyus that are not really big names but they play their roles just fine. Here's a little fun fact about the subtitled version, the voices were recorded before the animation was finished. Also, the animation staff focused on matching the characters' lip movements match the dialogue (which was a first for an anime production). As far as the English Dub goes, there are actually two dubs to Akira. The Streamline dub (which was from the 90's) and the Animaze/Pioneer Dub (which was done in 2001) I will actually state my opinion on both dubs. It is going to be very difficult for me to comment on the Streamline dub because I know there are some people that have grown up watching the Streamline dub and they actually liked it. I am more familiar with the Animaze/Pioneer Dub because that was the first dub I saw. I have seen a little bit of the Streamline dub and I tried to get used to it. There are some people that like the Streamline dub and there are some people that don't like it. I personally didn't like the Streamline dub, I'm sorry for those that like that dub, but the voices sounded way off to me. I was surprised that Cam Clarke voiced Kaneda though. So what do I think of the Animaze/Pioneer dub? I think it's a good dub. Johnny Yong Bosch fits the role because Kaneda is a punk and Johnny was a perfect choice for Kaneda, Joshua Seth is also great as Tetsuo. Wendee Lee was also good as Kei but I felt Kei sounded a bit older than her age in this dub, this is just a minor nitpick but Wendee Lee's performance was pretty good. as far as other performances go, Jamieson Price was great as the Colonel, and there were some well-known dub actors in the movie such as Michelle Ruff, Michael Lindsay, Mike Reynolds, William Frederick Knight, Skip Stellrecht, and Steve Blum. The Animaze/Pioneer dub is good, but I sort of prefer the subtitled version on this one. Kevin Seymour really did a good job as ADR director in which he didn't disappoint in the later dubs that he worked on with animes such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Code Geass. I've said enough on the voice acting
As far as characters go, the characters (in a way) have personalities that would fit the setting of the story that which the movie presents. Kaneda is a street punk that has a sense of humor. His best friend Tetsuo really has some problems which I really can't blame him too much for since he has a inferiority complex. I almost found Tetsuo as a whiny little bitch but there is a slight cool appeal that I see in Tetsuo and it was somewhat fascinating to see Tetsuo progress in character development. Kei is an alright character of all the bunch, She doesn't have too much development compared to how she developed in the manga. The Colonel on the other hand is a pretty good character from start to finish. He may be tough and ruthless but he has his reasons. I like how he is pragmatic to recognize the danger that Tetsuo's fledgling powers pose. I also like his sense of honor that reflects on the Military. Call it a soldierly sense of honor if you may. I like the Colonel. The other characters are pretty good for the most part.
The story of Akira is a bit hard for me to describe because the animation is what most people remember about Akira. There's definitely a lot of style with some substance to go with it. The story does have a post-apocalyptic setting and most of the scenes you see or will see does fit that setting. It's obvious that this is an adaptation of the manga of the same name and Otomo-san took some liberties from turning his 2,162 page manga epic into a 2 hour film. It's not completely faithful to the manga but since Otomo-san directed this film, I don't have much room to complain. I will say that the manga has a far more complete story, this movie does have a story but it can be a little hard to remember for some people. I guess it's good for the most part. There are times I just get blown away by the animation and totally forget about the story.
Akira was available by Pioneer/Geneon before it went out of print, it was later picked up by Bandai Entertainment until they went under. It was rescued by Funimation. At the time I'm writing this review, it will soon be available from Funimation. The manga by Katsuhiro Otomo was available by Dark Horse Comics until the rights expired and it was picked up by Kodansha Comics. The Akira manga is available from Kodansha Comics. An American live-action film was in the works but it is in development hell.
With all that said, Akira has incredible animation that ended up as one of the most popular anime films today. This film has garnered a cult following which I think the animation contributed to that. The music is mesmerizing and a tripfest in some themes. The movie has a couple badass characters as well as some badass moments. The story may have not been faithful than the manga but it is directed by the creator of the series so there's really no need to complain about that. This is a really cool movie and anyone that likes anime should see it. You won't be disappointed for the most part.
I give Akira a 9 out of 10, It is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to leave a comment.
Critic's Log - Post-script: Well, I just got to 25 reviews and an Otaku's work is never done. Even though I don't get paid for posting reviews, I do have fun writing reviews and posting them. Feel free to check out my other reviews that I have posted if you feel up to it. I also want to thank some of my friends that I have or made throughout the time I had making these 25 reviews. With that said, That is all I have for the time being and have a great day.
Well this film was definitely an experience. It took me only a few minutes to realize the animation was superb. It really was a visual delight. The opening sequence was just the tip of the iceberg of what was in store for this one. I adore surreal movies and this bizarre ride of utterly beautiful and horrific imagery had me glued to my tv for just over two hours. The characters themselves are so-so in my opinion with the exception of Tetsuo who was at once creepy and lovely. I watched the film on adult swim also so I saw it with the new and
improved dub. As I said, the stand out was Tetsuo, but I also really liked the Colonel. Surprisingly, I didn't so much like Johnny Yong Bosch's Kaneda. It was a lot of yelling and his character was very back and forth with his emotions. One minute he was scared and the next he was flirting and laughing with Kei. It was a bit weird so I may need to sit through it a second time with the subs.
I may need to watch it again anyway because the plot was a lot to take in. It's truly an "epic" experience of a sci-fi feature. Unfortunately, I had not read the manga and have heard it explains in better detail, so I was confused in some parts. One thing I did love was the ending. The symbolism and religious undertones were flawlessly placed along the way and it was perfectly open for interpretation which I love. The music was brilliant as well and the intense violence was gorgeous. it was beautiful and dark and shocking which are things I enjoy in my movie experience.
Overall, I really liked this film. I would recommend it for sure, but go in with an open mind. 8/10 stars.
What is the most famous anime of all time for casual viewers that aren't really huge otaku? If Akira isn't number 1, it is certainly in the top 3. When Akira was first released in the US, it quickly became a cult classic and a "movie that everyone has to see". I went to China and bought (for 1$ each) a massive criterion collection of classic films like Bicycle Thieves, La Dolce Vita, The 400 Blows, Ikiru, etc. Guess what came in that collection? fucking Akira! What is it that makes this film SO good? I will attempt to answer this in a few paragraphs.
review contains spoilers! Skip the plot section if you haven't seen Akira. Seriously though, how have you not seen Akira?
One thing that needs to be said about the plot is that a LOT is left out from the original manga. That means that much of the background info about the world of Akira is never answered in the movie and you will probably be left with many questions. The main plot is that a bike gang in post WW3 Japan are engaged in a turf war with another bike gang called the Clowns. Our bike gang is led by the charismatic and likeable Kaneda. The runt of the gang is a frustrated, psychological mess named Tetsuo. Tetsuo is always getting picked on and wishes for great power so that he could experience being on top and pushing other people around. After a motorcycle crash caused by a bizzare smurf creature running into the road, the government experiments on Tetsuo and gives him super psychic powers to try turn him into a government controlled psychic weapon. All the smurf creatures are actually children that were transformed by the Japanese government. Tetsuo predictably uses his powers to wreak havoc and be a massive dick. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Tetsuo was an evil little shit to begin with! The psychic counsil of smurfs decide to tell Tetsuo about a former powerful psychic named Akira, even though they say they don't want him to find Akira. Tetsuo obviously starts immediately searching for Akira. Kaneda and some chick named Kay now need to stop Tetsuo's rampage, but this is easier said than done. In the end, Tetsuo is only defeated after the Smurfs resurrect Akira, who summons a black hole that seems to wipe out Tetsuo and most of the city, besides Kaneda and Kay for some reason. The film ends in the style of Kubrick's 2001 with a mind bending WTF sequence and heavily hinting that Tetsuo has become a Godlike being in another universe. I feel sorry for that universe!
The main characters are the fairly righteous and honorable gangster Kaneda and the weak, frustrated Tetsuo who becomes increasingly insane and corrupted by power. It is interesting that many of history's most horrible dictators were once abused children that felt powerless and angry just like Tetsuo. This makes Tetsuo a fairly realistic villian and far better than the average 80s anime villian that was simply evil because...why not? Now why the government was so stupid that they gave someone obviously evil and mentally unstable Godlike psychic powers is anyone's guess. Akira does have more than a few plotholes, especially since it is a VERY condensed adaptation of the original manga.
The soundtrack is certainly...unique. I really didn't like it though. It is very hit and miss avant garde style of music.
When this first came out, it was one of the most incredible looking animated films the world had ever seen! Even today in 2014 it looks visually stunning. The number of colors, the animation, the character models. Everything is absolutely spectacular. The amazing and often surreal visuals are the highlight of Akira. If it was just a novel with no visuals, the story and characters are fine, but not good enough to give it such long lasting cult appeal. It is the visuals and imagery that steal the show and make Akira such a classic of anime and film in general! Akira looks so fucking cool my crazy Russian ex-girlfriend bought a motorcycle and got a motorcycle license immediately after watching Akira. Driving around on a motorcycle weilding a metal pipe makes you look like a badass!
There has been talk for 20 years of a live action American remake of Akira. Eventually we did get Chronicle, which is extremely based off Akira and has the Tetsuo/Kaneda relation between the 2 main characters. The runt of the gang gets corrupted by his new powers and goes on a killing rampage in the same style as Tetsuo. When the Tetsuo character is wandering around killing people in a hospital gown with the exact same camera shots as the original Tetsuo's hospital rampage, it is pretty hard to miss. Hell, when the Kaneda character screams ANNDREEWWW as a blatant homage to the original infamous scene, everyone in my entire theater started screaming TEETTTSSSUUOOOOOOO! Despite the relative success of Chronicle, no "official" adaptation is likely any time soon. Honestly I don't think a live action film can capture the surreal visuals of the original that made it so special. Chronicle already did a great job remaking the plot and characters, but those weren't what made Akira truly great. Like I mentioned, the plot and characters are good, but it was those trippy visuals that took Akira from simply good to legendary!
Akira is the worst anime movie I have ever seen. Have you ever wanted to see what would happen if Yuasa decided to inject black tar heroin into his blood supply while directing Devilman: Crybaby? If so, this is the movie for you.
Story (2/10): The classic case of incoherency masked by "you need to be highly perceptive to understand it". Tetsuo gets chased around for like an hour and that's all that happens. Random characters get killed with literally zero contribution to the plot. It's like the violence was just thrown in there to make the movie edgy or something. The ending is also absolute
Characters (1/10): Bland, pointless, and undeveloped. No character backstory, no personality anywhere, nothing. I don't even know what else to say here. They don't exist?
Art (8/10): Now that was some really good animation. Akira's like a Makoto Shinkai movie: visually amazing with a pathetic narrative. These were some of the best action scenes I've seen in anime. Only thing I can criticize is the horrendously ugly faces of the characters, but they fit with the dark theme of the movie, so I'll let them pass.
Sound (6/10): I never knew an asthmatic person wheezing to some intense instrumental music could be considered an OST. The more you know.
Overall (3/10): Why did such amazing art have to get wasted on this over-glorified, "only 300 IQ rick and morty viewers will understand the genius of this film" pile of trash?
Contrary to many opinions, this movie is quite bad. Firstly, the whole background story about Akira itself is never explained, which causes alot of confusion during the movie. Then there is the static characters which just drag down the plot line, because you have no idea why or how they are connected to it. The movie itself contains very little action until towards the end, but even then it gives little satisfaction. In many ways this is like dragon ball but on a much lower scale then even that. So, if you are looking for a good movie with psychological stuff in it, seek elsewhere,
because this movie is just flat-out boring.
Breathtaking, imaginative, and ground breaking. Even these few words don't really justify the late 1980s film "Akira".
Film is a lot different than serialized works because execution is key. This is not to state that execution isn't important in a serial, but just lesser in comparison. A movie doesn't have a elongated run time too double back, and fix issues. Execution is something that "Akira" suffers from. This is a large tale with many different layers, with an expansive lore base, and a fleshed out world. Sadly 2 hours isn't quite enough, and quite a few things are left vague compared to the Manga.
After a couple of viewings however there is enough within the film to piece the entire puzzle together, but an extra couple of minutes of run time could of helped. This aside "Akira's" overall plot, and setting are really imaginative. By the time the credits rolled I was taken aback by what I just finished watching. The film not only left a impression on me, but on the industry as a whole.
Captivating almost doesn't do it justice. Age usually isn't kind to older works when you go back too a certain point. Dodgy frame work, and overall lack of detail become noticeable with these films of the past. But not with "Akira". Brimming with creativity "Akira" delivers a vibrant dystopia filled to the brim with overwhelming attention to detail. Every gunshot wound, and gory mutilation is jaw dropping. This for me at least is the films strongest aspect. It feels like you are watching moving art. Now the character designs have that realistic kind of feel, which is a plus because it adds to the overall effect of the film.
The OST is funky, wacky, and demands your attention when it's playing. This is both good, and bad. I found the score to be highly original, and fun. But the issues lies in the fact that it is just plains ridiculous, and jarring during some ques. I loved it, but be weary it's not for everyone. Now the voice cast across the board did a stellar job. Special shout out to Iwata, Mitsuo who voiced Kaneda. He was smooth, ridiculous, and a lot of fun, and his voice contributed to a lot of this.
This is another issues with the film. With so much to tell a lot of the characterization that was present in the Manga got reduced down to a couple of scenes. Even then it was only for a few of the characters. Such is the way with a film adaptation, but luckily I still feel it did a good job with how much time they had. Kaneda was the ever likable protagonist, and a bad ass to boot. I found myself pulled into every scene he was in. Tetsuo is the other main character in this story, and one of the central focuses of the tale. Both were unique, and likable in their own ways. Now from the supporting cast there isn't much. I did however really like Colonel Shikishima. For a good chunk of the movie I was actually on his side, but besides him the rest left much to be desired for. They were enjoyable, but didn't have much under the hood.
One of my favorite Anime films, and in my eyes a true classic. "Akira" left an impression, and lived up to its praise.
This film is truly unique, and a classic that stood the test of time. With a few execution problems, and a little lacking in the character department this film still deserves its acclaim. I would highly recommend this to just about everyone for it's an experience that one should form their own thoughts on. Anyways those are my thoughts, and as always thanks for reading.