There's a lot to say about this movie. It is largely responsible for resurrecting anime fandom in the United States after years of stagnation. It is regarded by many as not only one of the best Anime, but as one of the best animated movies of all time, and I would have to agree.
The story of this movie's creation is a highly unusual one. It was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo as an adaption of his 2,182 page manga epic of the same name. Eight massive Japanese entertainment companies came together as the Akira Committee to fund and promote the project, and it was worked on constantly for the greater part of a decade. The movie consists of 783 scenes and a ridiculous 160,000 hand-drawn and colored animated cels.
The movie opens with the sight of 1988 Tokyo being destroyed in complete silence by what appears to be a nuclear explosion. The plot moves inexplicably to the newly built, Neon-lit city of Neo Tokyo in the year 2019. A teenage biker gang, led by 16-year-old Shotaro Kaneda, has gotten into a fight with a rival gang, the Clowns. A breathtaking, gruesomely violent motorcycle duel ensues through a large part of the city. During the fight, Kaneda's best friend Tetsuo Shima crashes his bike and seriously injures himself after nearly running into a hideously aged looking child standing in the middle of the road. Military helicopters arrive and arrest Kaneda and his gang, while at the same time taking away both Tetsuo and the strange child without explanation.
Kaneda and his gang manage to talk their way out of trouble and are released the next morning. They begin to worry however after days pass without any sign of Tetsuo. Meanwhile, doctors examining Tetsuo at a secret military installation discover that his mental frequencies are very similar to something called "Akira". Tetsuo is held hostage by the military, but soon manages to escape. Once loose in the city, Tetsuo begins to have disturbing hallucinations and discovers his awakening psychic powers.
What ensues is an epic struggle between the military and a crazed Tetsuo, who becomes more and more powerful as he rampages through the city, following the telepathic call of Akira. Meanwhile, Kaneda, in hopes of finding Tetsuo, has joined forces with a group of terrorists who want to release Akira.
I don't want to spoil anything else. The plot of this movie is incredibly complex and is something that should be experienced without me ruining anything. It's unlike anything you'll see today, in the age of cheap CG kid's fodder thrown together to make a quick buck. This film was a labor of love by all involved and it shows. The amount of detail in the drawings and all the different things going on in each and every scene is amazing. This film is a thought-provoking, ultra colorful roller coaster ride that anyone who calls themselves an anime fan owes it to themselves to see. We can only hope that the upcoming Live action adaptation does this movie justice. It probably won't, but we can hope.
- Epic story that blows away most movies, animated or otherwise
- Fluent, incredibly detailed animation
- Solid Dub and English translation
- None come to mind. It's pretty much the perfect movie