Akira

Movie (1 ep x 125 min)
1988
4.159 out of 5 from 34,410 votes
Rank #876

Following the disaster wrought upon the world by a mysterious being called ‘Akira’, Neo Tokyo is now in social and economic turmoil. In such a decaying city, feisty Kaneda and his shy friend Tetsuo survive by running around in a biker gang, chasing local rivals and generally evading the police. Everything changes, however, when Tetsuo crashes into a strange-looking boy during a bike chase and the military ends up taking him away. When he eventually returns to his friends, he’s no longer the same weak little boy they always knew – in fact, a military experiment has turned him into something beyond human imagination. While the military is intent on reclaiming its specimen at any cost, Tetsuo is sick of being bullied around and is about to show everyone, including his friend Kaneda, exactly who is boss.

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Reviews

VivisQueen
8

StoryI have been staring at my computer screen for what seems a decade, trying to sum up what Akira feels like to watch - after a considerable period of hesitation, I offer the following graceless suggestion: think Ghibli on acid. Although relentlessly brutal and disturbing, Akira remains strictly philosophical at heart with its exploration of human evolution set against a backdrop of human decay. As such, it has that energising creativity to be found in Ghibli productions; and yet, due to the level of bizarre savagery, it also makes me feel like I'm experiencing a rather bad hallucinatory trip. Opening with a stark ‘beginning of the end' setting reminiscent of many parts of the world even today, Akira quickly establishes a dark, unnerving mood. Rather than alien invaders or malfunctioning supercomputers, Neo-Tokyo suffers from good old-fashioned social disintegration; the city is a place where violent demonstrations and wannabe messiahs sprout like weeds, and all the while the authorities are struggling to hold onto power. Being a fan of cynical portrayals of humanity, I immediately connected with Akira's world and found myself easily swept away despite some of its plot-related lapses. Moreover, Akira's individual scenes are brilliantly directed. First and foremost, it offers plenty of action sequences with fluid, fast-paced stunts and gory violence. Squeamish viewers will probably not appreciate such detail but I find the violence is rarely gratuitous and actually enhances the story's emotional impact; specifically, the explosive psychic battles provide the plot with some valuable momentum. However, even the ordinary non-action scenes are wholly gripping due to the tense characterisation and world detail. For example, Kaori at the laundrette remains one of my favourite moments for no other reason than the disheartening features of the room and the realistic touch of the girl on the telephone in the background. As hinted above, not all is perfect, and at least one qualification is in order; cramming in six manga volumes of politics, metaphysics and the end of the world, it probably comes as no surprise to say Akira's plot progression is far from seamless. For instance, after waking up to find himself in a strange hospital, Tetsuo stumbles to his escape, turning up at his girlfriend's place a couple of scenes later without explanation of how he got there. Granted, these ‘gaps' are rare and, being absorbed by the milieu, I get the impression that I have not missed much, but they are inelegant nonetheless.AnimationAkira's only ‘imperfection' animation-wise is its age, although, in more important respects - colour scheme, character design, motion etc - not one thing needs amending. With detailed hand-drawn images and such a high quality concept, this movie doesn't come off bad at all in comparison to more recent features. For anyone suspicious of 1980s interpretations of the future, fear not: far from having a cheesy concept where bad hair and even worse clothes dominate the scene, Akira opts for a timeless gritty feel. On the one hand, the character designs are simplistic; Kei the terrorist, for example, is difficult to recognise as a female at first because of her rather androgynous design, and, apart from a couple of too-short trousers, the clothes could belong to any futuristic era. The details of the city environments, on the other hand, are remarkable; everything from the use of shadow to the weird skin tones in neon lighting helps to give Akira a manic depressive appeal. As mentioned before, this attention to detail also extends to the blood and gore used liberally throughout.SoundBoth the Japanese and the English dubs are of a high calibre in terms of drama, but the Americans outperform the Japanese in terms of suitability. Kaneda's Japanese voice, as an example, just seems too reedy for a street-wise leader of his age. Complementing the twisted mood of the movie is a unique experimental soundtrack which mostly involves percussion music and spooky chanting. This one is worth owning if you like your music a bit ‘out there'; for example, the high-octane bike chase is accompanied by a breathy piece with dramatic power drums and some of Tetsuo's crazy scenes use a rather discordant but chilling choral theme.CharactersUnsurprisingly, Akira leaves absolutely no room for kind-hearted altruists. Most of the characters are either acting for explicitly non-ideal reasons or their motivations are left unsaid, so warming to any of them is a pointless exercise at best. However, a cast does not have to be likeable to be good, and despite each character being rarely more than one-dimensional, the cast as a whole makes for a believable mix of creepy villains, antiheroes, and tragic victims. Still, only the three centremost characters, Kaneda, Tetsuo, and the Colonel, are actually memorable in their own right. Kaneda is a street-wise brat who knows how to handle himself, but what strikes me the most about him is his sense of humour; he is genuinely amusing when he talks back to police officers and his flippant remarks help alleviate the tension at all the right times. Still, while he is admirable in that delinquent way, he is not the kind of person you necessarily want to spend more than ninety minutes with. His best friend, Tetsuo, on the other hand, gives the impression of a victim frustrated by the lack of control in his life. The traumas and transformations he faces as a result of his godlike development make for some of the best scenes of the entire film. Arguably the most complex character is the Colonel because, in the midst of all this madness, he is the only one willing to make pragmatic, commonsensical decisions. Interestingly, this does not make him the good guy in any strict sense because his uncompromising methods leave a lot to be desired, and, as with many of the other characters, I am undecided whether to cheer him on or not.OverallAkira is an action fest kind of movie with an unexpected philosophical and sociological depth; sure, plot progression is disjointed on occasion and the cast is not phenomenally sympathetic, but I could offer Akira nothing less than a high score. As a thrilling sci-fi with a unique ‘brink of madness' approach, it makes a powerful and lasting impression.

mustardbomb
4

Time is a funny thing. A veil more than a man-made concept, it is the ultimate in distorting, masking and outright changing our perception of the world around us. Go ahead, go revisit a Looney Tunes episode, you'll find it awful. Or perhaps take another look at the Titanic film your parents rented as a kid, you'll appreciate it. So yes, Akira, right, this is a review. The point I'm trying to make is, the perception people have of something can evolve over time, often beyond its merits. Something's legacy can often grow past it's own shadow, and we remember it as more grandiose when we should. Akira falls victim to this. Not bad by any means, but something mediocre has since been seen as something "epic", to use a trite word. So why is this? Well let us take a trip back to somewhat glorious 1988. Peepshow, Suffer and Green had all just been released and the world was finally getting an animated film from Japan that wasn't all robots or shenanigans. Anime fans from all around flocked to their local nickelodeon to see said film, Akira. Their thoughts upon leaving? "Well that was pretty good." By and large, nothing beyond that. How it grew to the "gold-standard" that it holds today I'll never know. The direction, the art, the voice acting, hell, even the writing, virtually none of these qualities excel to the point of influence. So that's out, but what about pure enjoyment, or simple likability? Well, for "my first anime", sure. But a serious fan of the medium? No sir, not at all. So where to start? Well, how about our bland framing device also known as the plot? I'd rather not, to be honest. The less I spend talking about this thing the better, but the people must know, and on I press! Combine the silly gang antics of West Side Story with a touch of over-the-top Mad Max and perhaps a bad episode of the Twilight Zone (Read: All of them) and you have Akira's ridiculous story. (And if these combined elements sound good to you, please finish asphyxiating yourself, as you're obviously halfway through and already brain-dead.) Oh, and a silly, Napoleonic revenge plot. Joy. Does much more need to be said? It's ineffective, it's silly, and it just tries to tie together the numerous set-pieces scattered throughout the film. It has clearly taken a back seat to some of the other elements in the movie, and that will simply not cut it. The art, thankfully, fares better, but it still falls under our "mediocre" umbrella that is the true nature of the film. Everything is drawn technically well, but it has no style of it's own. It's very "color by numbers". This is a man, this is a building. It is *not* the artist's own person, or the artist's own building, and that is a rather missed opportunity. Not to mention every frame of the film has that grainy, low quality tint to it that colored every piece of '80s animation. Not a particular fault of the filmmaker's, but it does detract from latter day enjoyment. Sadly each character who is animated is there in sight only. We don't feel their presence, nor we perceive them as a representation of a person. They are cartoons, and nothing more. The lack of personality is simply staggering given the film's (Unearned) legacy. Damsel in distress Kei, McGuffin Akira, blind rage Tetsuo or needless asshole Kaneda. They are all interchangeable with thousands of thousands of characters from other shows. We watch all of them "do", and none of them "be", and that is a trap plenty of amateur screenwriters fall into. Voice acting is equally bland, no outstanding performance on either end of the quality spectrum. So why, we ask, do people love this movie so much? Much like the adoration of Led Zeppelin, it is mob mentality. A few people like it, some silly sheep bah in agreement, and suddenly half the world holds something near-worthless in high esteem. Is it deserving? No, shoot no. But should you watch it? Ultimately, I'd say yes. It may not be the greatest animated film of all time, nor the worst one, but there is obviously a large grey area here, and it can fall anywhere therein for each viewer. We can all develop our own opinions, but reviews are here as a guiding source, and this reviewer says it's worth taking a look at. If only to get the legions of sheeple off your back for not having seen it already.

ClubFoot
10

Remember when you liked this movie in your childhood just because you wanna see some action and violence rather than understand the story? Because we've grown up, you finally watch this movie again and there is something deeper if you look below. Akira is one of the anime that raises the name of anime in the international world. It can be said as the golden age of anime where names like Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Shinichiro Watanabe, Mamoru Oshii and Hideaki Anno have been famous until now. Akira can be classified as one of the anime before there is a term said 'anime was a mistake' and before otaku culture rules that which resulted in major changes to the anime. It takes so many inspiration even many Hollywood directors who want to work on the live-action. But, this is not something familiar to now. Why is modern anime no longer looks like Akira? Well, it's more like the time has been leased where such names no longer exist for a new generation and welcome for them where you can find a lot of otaku culture that has become mainstream among pop culture. The story focuses on 2019 where 31 years after the nuclear explosion in Tokyo that brought the world to a WWIII. Kaneda and his gang members are always involved with an adventure with other gangs where they hit and make a mess with each other. Pretty simple for movie anime like this that focuses on one person with all sorts of stories throughout it but the story is not focused for him and not him who takes the spotlight. Katsuhiro Otomo made Neo-Tokyo as a major character where all of them were protagonists and antagonists in the city. The story doesn't focus on Kaneda and his friends but focuses more on everything that happens in the city. The government, anti-government, revolutionary, mystery, psychological, hopeless, experimental, all of that he made into one story that produces Akira. Well, this reminds me of Stanley Kubrick's masterpieces such as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining, all made into one and here it is, Akira. Not surprisingly, this anime is one of the pioneers for Hollywood for animation, novels, and movies. Again, many famous directors want to remake this film and it's not surprising that I initially thought it was just a motorcycle gang that seemed cliche. For people who are still unfamiliar about anime or movie, it's pretty confusing if they try to understand what this story is about, what is Akira, who is Akira, why do people praise Akira as a humanity savior, what really happened in this movie. Back again in 2001: A Space Odyssey, people used to think that this was the worst movie of all time because it didn't provide an in-depth detail about the story. Just like Akira that needs some interpretation if you try to understand the story or just read the comics. In addition to interpretation, the premise of this movie seemed to criticize what will happens in the future. This is 2018, 30 years after this movie was made and everything in Akira is impressed to be brought into reality where a new generation is more broken, the government seems repugnant as well as its society, chaos that happens around us, the emergence of a new religion that misleading people and nothing else can be trusted anymore. Well, that's what Katsuhiro Otomo wants to show according to my thoughts, combining things that often occur and taboo into a movie called Akira. The art kinda reminds me of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner with the three-dimensional cinematography about post-apocalyptic. In addition, each frame shows every detail ranging from the background to the moving and talking characters that are so smooth from broken glass, wall, city, the use of lighting, and others. One of the scenes I like best is when Tetsuo creates a replacement mechanical right arm for himself, like Fritz Lang's Metropolis. By the way, that awesome freaking scene between Kaneda and Tetsuo is one of the best scenes ever in the anime. Explosions, laser shots, chaos everywhere, all become one as you will never get something like this again. Although the modern anime shows some interesting action too, Akira is in a different level because of this part seems realistic. The soundtrack kinda looks like some loudness everywhere. Sometimes, some scenes remind me of Martin Scorsese's movie where he often uses a loud sound effect followed by a silent. It's dynamic and the music placement is so precise, supporting all of that sometimes minimalistic but also occasionally ambiance. The seiyuu is great by the way, overalls. No one wants to show it all and it all comes with a good part. One of my minor problems is sometimes I can't hear what the character dialogue because of the placement of the music is very loud and sometimes is not right. But, it's just my minor problem and I don't think is annoy my satisfaction. Love the development of the characters 'cause they really good at developing it. For example, the characters that appear at the beginning of a non-sense impression that doesn't introduce himself and instantly dived into the story may be a bit confusing to know who is that and who is this, where they come from. One of the most unique among all characters is the conflict between Kaneda and Tetsuo that fight each other but show a pitiful flashback. Not spoiler, you'll get a slightly complex relationship and both have their respective values. It's enough to introduce all the characters because the relationship between both of them can be said as one of the best recognition and well-development character in this movie, from the beginning to the end. As one of anime that's seen as one of the gems for Hollywood intake an inspirational, Akira is an anime that prioritizes more for adults. The diverse animations, action, and gore combine of symbolism and criticism, Katsuhiro Otomo blends everything into a movie that will always be remembered. No more anime with a type like this anymore after the otaku culture ruled it but I also don't put hate with modern anime because some are great and some seem imposing. Not to mention, sometimes it has excessive fanservice and storyline that getting more weird and weird. Movies like The Matrix may never exist if Akira and Ghost In The Shell were never made. An anime that will never die and forever it never. It's a worth watching if you want some blood, gore, and action but it's more than that.

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