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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Transcription: Akira (1988) Film Review

Fig.1 "Akira" (1988) Poster

Produced in 1988 by Katsuhiro Otomo, "Akira" is considered a classic and a landmark in the Japanese sub-genre of animation known as anime. Based on the acclaimed Manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo himself, "Akira" is the highest-budget anime film ever produced at the time and one of the most expensive animated movies made in Japan. Making an international splash with its flawless animation and, to a lesser extent, splashy violence and apocalyptic story, becoming an overwhelming, breakthrough, animated science-fiction tale, that is both visually stunning and deals with recognisable human characters.

Fig.2 "Akira" (1988) Still

Years ago, Tokyo was destroyed by an unknown force that sparked WWII. Now, in the middle of the 21st century, Neo Tokyo has been rebuilt on the ruins of the old city. Ravaged by aimless youths and bike gangs, rife with political intrigue, cults, and the undercurrents of revolution, this new city a sight to behold. Its the tale of Tetsuo and Kaneda, childhood friends who grew up inseparable until Somewhere in the underbelly of the city, Tetsuo, runs into a strange boy. The boy is part of a military experiment involving psychics, and a mysterious project knew as AKIRA. When Tetsuo begins to manifest psychic powers, along with bizarre hallucinations, he becomes a target of a shadowy government organisation dedicated to stopping a repeat of the incident that destroyed the city once at any cost.

Fig.3 "Akira" (1988) Still

Stories that take place in these settings tend to have the same atmosphere: crime out of control; corrupt government; revolutions, science and technology worshipped as gods. This film takes a bit of all these aspects and many more, mixes them together so what we get is a good sense of an abstract reality and an intense reality.  Basically there is really no single plot driving the film. Critic Rafael Ruiz states "Akira works wonderfully as a tone poem of the narrative, capturing the look and emotion of the original story through brilliant production design, fluid animation and direction." (Ruiz,2004)

But on the other hand critic Marc Marshall in his review explains why some viewers have a confusing experience when watching "Akira" " When you try to pack all that into a single film, you get an incredulous tangle of information, characters, and sociopolitical interplay. You also get a very confusing movie--it is, frankly, a narrative mess." (Marshall,2006) With all these things going on it's not surprising that many viewers find the films narrative confusing. But for those that have read the Manga itself probably do not have much trouble deciphering what is going on in the film.

Fig.4 "Akira" (1988) Still

It's a convoluted story compacted down from over 1,800 pages into two hours and a lot of story is lost yet almost too much of it is kept. So it not surprising that "Akira" contains a high proportion of mind-blowing images and scenes, making it a truly intense experience. In one review Critic Damian Cannon writes "The most phenomenal aspect of Akira is the quality of its animation; it's smooth, crisp, dynamic and colourful. Always the story moves on with pace, unhindered by the fact that it's all animated (in fact this aspect may have precisely the opposite affect). This wonderful fluidity conceals an incredible attention to detail and sub-surface complexity, the fruit of tremendous effort by the Akira team." (Cannon, 1997) Style and substance run neck and neck in this thrilling landmark film that just refuses to become dated. So there is no doubt that "Akira" is ground-breaking work, that deserves the credit.

Fig.5 "Akira" (1988) Still

List Of Illustrations

Figure.1  Otomo,Katsuhiro (1988) Akira Film Poster. Figure.3 Otomo,Katsuhiro (1988) Akira Film Still. (Accessed on 11/02/2012)
Figure.4 Otomo,Katsuhiro (1988) Akira Film Still. (Accessed on 11/02/2012)
Figure.5 Otomo,Katsuhiro (1988) Akira Film Still.  (Accessed on 11/02/2012)


Cannon, Damian (1997) Akira (1988) Film Review. (Accessed on 11/02/2012)
Ruiz, Rafael (2004) Akira Review. (Accessed on 11/02/2012)
Marshall, Marc (20060) AKIRA. (Accessed on 11/02/2012) (Accessed on 11/02/2012)
Figure.2 Otomo,Katsuhiro (1988) Akira Film Still. (Accessed on 11/02/2012) 

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