It has been called one of the most influential films of all time. A movie that many feel is responsible for causing Anime to become popular in the Western world. Based on the Manga of the same name that consisted of more than 2000 pages, a lot of people still find this one of the finest anime movies ever created. I am ofcourse talking about the masterpiece called Akira, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, the man that also created and wrote the manga. So why is this movie so incredible, and still after all these years a classic that has withstood the test of time very, very well? I will get to that question shortly, but let me first start with describing what this movie is about, for those that are not yet familiar with it.
In the year 1988 a strange psychic event occurs that completely obliterates the city of Tokyo. Soon after, World War Three starts, and Tokyo is rebuild into a new city called Neo Tokyo. The movie itself picks up the story right after these events. It is now the year 2019, and Neo-Tokyo has become a city with wide scale riots and motorcycle gangs that rule the streets. One of these gangs led by the young Kaneda, one night gets into a fight with another gang called the Clowns. During the fight one of Kaneda’s best friends, Tetsuo Shima, nearly runs over a strange boy who is right in the midde of the street. Crashing his motorcycle, Tetsuo is seriously injured and is taken to the hospital. Once there it soon becomes clear that the boy he nearly ran over, was no ordinary boy but someone who possessed strange psychic powers. And it appears that Tetsuo has now somehow also received these powers. Meanwhile Kaneda desperately searches for his friend, while being pursued by secret government forces. However Tetsuo’s powers soon begin to grow out of control, and the event that destroyed Tokyo so many years ago might repeat itself…..
It had been a very long time since I had last seen this movie, but seeing it appear on Netflix was enough to make me rewatch this film. And it is still every bit as powerful as when I first saw it. The animation for this movie is simply amazing. In every scene there are so many things that are going on in the backgrounds, that you will probably see new ones every time you watch this movie. With so many details presented in each frame, the city of Neo-Tokyo truly feels like it is a character itself.
And speaking of characters, that is one of the other highlights of this film. The young and somewhat cocky Kaneda, the hero of the movie, is someone that is incredibly hard not to like. He provides most of the comic relief in this film, something that is very much needed as this movie can at times be seriously depressing because of it’s dark themes. Kaneda’s quest to find his friend is at times heartbreaking, especially during the final parts of the movie where he is forced to make some really tough decisions. Tetsuo is a character a lot of people might relate to. A person who has always stood in the shadow of someone else, and now comes into possession of something truly incredible. The powers change him entirely and it comes down to that age old saying: “power corrupts”.
The story of Akira is very dark, and it certainly is not a movie for everyone. There are some very brutal and graphic scenes throughout the film, and it definitely established at the time that animation certainly was not only for kids anymore. It is amazing that a film that was made almost thirty years ago now is still such an incredibly powerful movie. It’s fantastic animation, thought provoking storyline and dark and tense atmosphere make this an absolute must see for every anime fan out there. Akira is a timeless classic and will still be worth seeing even after another thirty years from now.
I give Akira a 10 out of 10 score.