For most of us older Anime lovers, Akira was one of the first anime we watched. Originally released in 1989, Akira was well ahead of it’s time; generally heralded as groundbreaking in the West.
The building of a twisted story, a complex world that twists violence, gore and a harsh look at how awful things can happen to people (deserving or underserving).
Akira taught me that just because it is animated doesn’t mean it’s for children! I was recently invited to the screening of the 4K remaster by Manga UK and I realised I had not picked up half of what had happened in the film. What it really meant.
The film is based in Neo-Tokyo 2019 (with the quarantine has been I wouldn’t be surprised if we are only a few years off the complete chaos). After World War III, the world is crumbling down and Tokyo is being rebuilt. Two teenage rebels, Kaneda and Tetsuo, run into a secret government project to create telekinetic humans as weapons. Tetsuo is transferred to an institution and learns of Akira… Chaos ensues.
*Soft Spoilers Below*
I know a lot of people new to Akira find it a tad confusing so step-in expecting some Blade Runner-esque vibes. The plot does get a bit fiddly so trying to summarise is like trying to tie laces with your ear.
Your main characters are Kaneda and Tetsuo.
Kaneda is the impulsive, brave friend who acts impulsively and gets himself into trouble. He met Tetsuo when they were orphanage together and sets up a bike gang ‘The Capsules’.
So basically, Tetsuo is a bit of a dick. He shows perfectly how power in the wrong hands can go left. Maybe it is too simple to dismiss him as being an ass without looking at they background they give us. He has a one-sided rivalry with Kaneda, clearly from an inferiority complex, the flashbacks show how he relied on Kaneda since they were children.
The film starts chaotic, we start of running through a torn down Tokyo with a man and a child, they give us bambi death and then BAM! we meet Takashi our first Esper (ESPers are a trio of psychic-powered children). Honestly, seeing the Espers for the first time had me guffawing into my hand- Takashi is giving me Michael Jackson in Thriller.
From then on the gang run into government operatives who take Tetsuo. Kaneda’s need to protect and look after people leads him getting embroiled in the government plot and trying to stop Tetsuo from destructing the world.
More madness ensues.
Even giving the bare bones of the plot The reason why people issue with it being very complicated is the fact they have tried to cram a whole manga into a film. This resulted in losing a lot of the story and building of relationships that the graphic novels had. However, stick with it, it is honestly a masterpiece of a film! Also definitely watch the 4K remaster!
If you have any other animes you recommend or would like me to watch let me know!!