ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Akira (1988) Review

Updated on April 18, 2017

Akira

Akira Screenprint
Akira Screenprint

Akira (1988) is a cyberpunk, science fiction animated film directed and created by Katsuhiro Otomo. The film is based on the manga of the same name. The movie's takes place in a society where technology and lawlessness coexist. It's a dystopian future where motorcycle gangs rule separate territories of Tokyo and espers (psychic individuals) cause citywide fear. In 2019, teenager and motorcycle gang leader Shotaro Kaneda (Cam Clarke) is caught in a battle between his best friend Tetsuo Shima (Jan Rabson) and a powerful psychic Akira.

Story

Kaneda and his red motorcycle
Kaneda and his red motorcycle

Akira takes place after a psychic singularity (caused by the powerful esper Akira) destroys Tokyo in 1988; 31 years later in 2019 Neo-Tokyo the threat of Akira has risen once again. 2019 Tokyo is a lawless, futuristic society. The small city now resembles a megalopolis. Bosozuku (Japanese motorcycle) gangs rule the streets and fight for territory. Technology has advanced to the point where holo-projection and orbital weaponry. Other areas of science have benefitted as well with the creation of drugs that can prolong the lifespan of an individual. However, the vacuum created by the incident has allowed the city to overrun with crime and mischief.

Another threat in the movie are the government scientists and their imprisonment of espers. During a brawl between Kaneda's gang (the Capsules) and another Bosozuku gang, Tetsuo crashes his bike in an attempt to avoid hitting an esper. Tetsuo is extremely hurt and eventually hospitalized. Soon after, it is discovered that he is developing psychic powers on a massive scale. Colonel Shikishima (Japan Self-Defense Forces) and Kei (revolutionary member) along with the Capsules fight to get their friend back and ultimately prevent him from being consumed by Akira.

Art

Kaneda holding orbital weaponry.
Kaneda holding orbital weaponry.

Character Design

The artwork and character design in the film are really unique. The characters faces are noticeably round with huge, slanted foreheads and slanted eyes. Their appearance is very "Asian" in the argument that most anime characters look American. Also, bodies are drawn muscularly with broad shoulders. Not everyone looks this way though, some are subtly drawn differently which allow the character designs to clash in an interesting way.

Animation

Akira's trippy nightmare sequence
Akira's trippy nightmare sequence

The cel animation featured in the movie is gritty, life-like and full of character. The colors in the film don't particularly pop out and instead have a washed out tone to them. However, in contrast to the grittiness of the film itself, it works. For the animation itself, the characters' faces when they talk contain little intricate details that make them life like. The cheeks, mouth, and eyes all move independently and even more with subtly. As for other elements, including lights, science fiction elements, and psychic abilities the film is very detailed. In regards to the English dub, it does it wonders since the voice actors performances come to life as a result of such beautiful animation.

Cinematography

Kaneda and Tetsuo riding in Neo-Tokyo during nighttime.
Kaneda and Tetsuo riding in Neo-Tokyo during nighttime.

Sometimes the cinematography allows the viewer to experience some of the film for themselves. The motorcycle scenes mounts the camera in the first-person view where all you see is the winding road in front of you. The nightmare sequence uses the first-person view to show the horror of being plunged through twisted hallways. Also, low camera angles are frequent allowing the film to appear larger than life.

Science Fiction

Tetsuo powers up.
Tetsuo powers up.

The science fiction featured in the film is extensive and sometimes grotesque. What causes this Sci-fi film to be different from the others are the presence of psychics called espers. Espers are psychic individuals who don't (usually) have control of their supernatural powers. However, when they are in control they can make the impossible, possible. Feats such as flying, mass growth, singularity blast, explosions, and more are show in the film. The added element of the supernatural truly makes Akira a memorable Sci-fi watch.

Music

Akira's soundtrack is tribalistic and filled with instrumentals. The music hosts a vast variety of percussive instruments which reverberate to create one single harmony. Added with the harmony are the lively chants which continue to escalate. There's also splashes of classic Japanese music. With everything combined, there's an overarching sense of spiritualness which pleasantly washes over you.

Tone

Tetsuo falling
Tetsuo falling

The film can be graphic and requires a mature audience. Akira does not stray away from showing moral corruption or wickedness. In one scene, the girlfriend of one of the members of the Capsules is almost raped in the middle of a territory war. In another, a man is shot dead in front of a crowd by police with blood and flesh spurting everywhere. The film makes it clear that the world depicted is not a pretty or happy place.

Conclusion

So what makes Akira a cult classic? The film is science fiction to a T. There are singularity explosions, psychic entities, espers, technological advanced megalopolis, etc. But, what truly makes it memorable is its mature tone and depiction of a dystopian culture. It doesn't pull any punches in its narrative and adds extra drama with its friend vs. friend storyline. As a result, it is a film brimming with tension, grit and excitement.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)