Akira Review: A Revolutionary Yet Confusing Anime.

4 and a half stars
is the film that many credit for setting off the anime bomb around the world, with numerous people becoming aware of the capabilities of Japanese animation because of it.
Knowing this, and seeing it being advertised for a limited time on AnimeLab, I had to check it out.
And, after seeing it, I can say that I realised why Akira is considered such a revolutionary anime but was also left very confused by it.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, and based off his manga of the same name, the 1988 film is set in our own year of 2019, and picks up in the decades after a massive explosion in Tokyo sparked World War Three.
Now named Neo-Tokyo, the city is plagued by corruption and gangs.
One of these biker gangs is headed by Shotaro Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata) who leads on his signature, futuristic motorbike.

akira bike
Kaneda’s bike has become a symbol of the cyberpunk genre. 

After the gang inadvertently stumble across the escape attempt of a secret organisation’s test subject, Kaneda’s friend Tetsuo Shima (Nozumu Sasaki) is taken away for experimentation.
This draws Kaneda into a world of weird science with telekinetic powers, super powered children, and some serious “Oh, God! Kill it with fire!” body horror.
All of these features combine into a crazy, complicated and confusing story that, somehow, I still find to be very thought provoking.
It’s strange.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt so confused yet challenged, in a good way, by a film.

Akira’s ending is both challenging and gruesome, helped by the amazing animation for the time.

Along with this, Akira has some stunning animation because every single shot breaths with movement and style.
This not only makes for some intense action sequences but some grotesque moments as well, especially at the end when the body horror is put on full display.
However, Akira is still an overstuffed story with way too many side characters to keep track of or care about.
This does make sense considering the anime adapts a six volume manga in two hours, and was made years before the manga was even completed.
Although, it does not help that I sometimes ended up confusing Kaneda for his love interest Kei (Mami Koyama) because of their very similar designs.

Kaneda and Kei’s designs are so alike that sometimes their clothes were the only things I could use to tell them apart.

Still, despite these problems, Akira is still a great anime film, not just because of its thought provoking material and amazing animation but also because of what it did for anime itself.
I have heard that Taika Waititi will be directing an live action adaptation so it will be interesting to see how that turns out, and how his style of film making will be added.
Personally though, I think it would be more interesting to see an anime adaptation of the entire Akira six volume manga.

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