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Akira [RSC Film Club 39]


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The first film of 2022 will be our second animated film, and that is Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, nominated by @djw180.

Akira Movie Poster | 1 Sheet (27x41) Original Vintage Movie Poster | 8118

An absolute landmark in the history of animation, Akira is a cyberpunk film about a biker gang getting involved in military experiments exploring the limits of telekinetic power.  Incredibly detailed backgrounds of the towering, neon drenched Neo-Tokyo set the standard of what cyberpunk looks like and the soundtrack, a mixture of the traditional and the futuristic, perfectly sets the mood.  And then there's the finale, which I'll leave you to experience for yourself.  I only watched this recently but I'm glad for an excuse to re-watch it as this was a hell of a trip.  

akira GIF

you called for me, didn't you?  and I heard you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I knew nothing about this when I picked it, just took it from a list of 'best animated films of all time'

It's very good animation. At times quite staggering to think about how much effort must have gone into drawing some of the scenes. The setting reminds me of Bladerunner and Final Fantasy games (hardly surprising). The story gets going straight away, there is no gradual build up or introduction to the characters, it's just straight into the biker gang taking on a rival gang. I did find the plot confusing towards the end though, and never really understood what was going on with the character from the biker gang who appears to have the special powers, the three prematurely aged children and who or what exactly was Akira. But that didn't detract too much, it's the sort of thing you can just watch, especially the end, and not worry about the story that much.


8 / 10

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  • 1 year later...

Akira (1988)

I have to admit that  I'm not a huge fan of feature length animated films in general, whether they are CGI animated or hand drawn. I mean, I wish I could watch the trailers for Avatar 1 and Avatar 2, and feel some excitement, but I don't. I do have some animated favorites from over the years, such as:  Antz, A Bug's Life, Osmosis Jones, The Secret of Nihm, An American Tail, The Transformer Movie, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, Cars, and Toy Story. As a boy, of course I watched the superhero cartoons, the Voltrons, Scooby-Doos, Looney Tunes, Thundercats, He-Man, etc. 

So when people started showing me anime comic books and recommending movies, I noticed that most of the reason the material was popular was the graphic deaths and dismemberments throughout the comics. But, for me, that was like so tame compared to the material I had been consuming since I was an 11-year old boy. Holy man, by age 13, my watch list would have made all your parents blush. Watching a leg get chopped off in an anime cartoon did not have the impact of seeing the same practical effect in a gory film for me so I have always passed on anime films. 

So it is no surprise that I had never watched this Akira film, despite knowing it is considered one of the greatest animated features, for it's cultural impacts, in fact, I recently watched Nope (2022) and the "Akira slide" is performed by one of the characters in that film, naturally, I chuckled when I saw it in its original anime form.  

Let's begin with the positives, and what was to me the best part of the film, the animation. The artwork was tremendous, the art direction of some scenes were brain candy. The way some scenes just pull away from the landscape and you get that sense of scale really made watching this very entertaining. I watched every scene intently because I just didn't know where the action was going to come from. The way the animations morphed, don't know if that's the proper term, but the way the drawings melted into one another was very cool and how the drawings gave a sense of velocity was also a cool experience. 

The violence was depicted very tasteful and thought the blood animations were pretty accurate for drawings and really got across the ultra-violence in the attacks. I thought it could have been a little gorier but we already know Im a sick f*c. I loved the tumor baby monster at the end, I thought he was creepy and sad at the same time. 

I wish there were more positive things for me to say besides how the film went on to inspire and introduce a fresh new genre to the masses. But I'm going to keep my review about the stuff on screen only. 

The most frustrating thing while watching this was having to rewind to see if I had missed something in the dialogue because we jump from one sub-plot to another without any warning. We meet characters that seem important since we see minor character developments, but they go nowhere. Take one of the corrupt businessmen, he gets the news that the Akira is coming, so he starts to stuff money and what I thought were stock certificates, he then takes a bunch of pills and dies on the street. I guess that was to symbolize greed and how money won't save you if you aren't taking care of your body and only your money? I still don't know. 

I found myself very confused about the Akira element in the film, there is this amazing build up and then its just some body fragments in jars. Then I know that Akira and Tetsuo had a bond because both were experimented with by the government and is why Tetsuo became so powerful but honestly, I still don't know if I was in the right set of mind to watch this but I felt the story wasn't great. 

I hate to disappoint the big fans of this animated film, but I found it overrated. The animations were entertaining but the way the story was told just missed the target for me. I have no desire to rewatch this in order to clarify stuff. I was very surprised at how much people really praise this film. For me it was just okay, probably because of all the things the film had going against it for me from the start. 

In conclusion, I appreciate what Akira did to the introduce the genre to America and the world. I have seen anime bring people of all races and lifestyles together and for that, I have to give it immense credit but as far as keeping me engaged or looking forward to exploring the Akira universe, it just fell short.

Final Verdict...3/5... I enjoyed the animations mostly. The story and the way it is told wasn't enough for me to consider this a classic in my eyes. I'm sorry I found the whole story overrated and convoluted because I was expecting more from that element. I can see how young people would find this incredible because it can be the first violent animated film they ever watch and in that sense, yes, it would blow their minds, but as an adult who has consumed so much real life violent material, Akira was just an intensely drawn ultra violent cartoon with a thin story line and mostly uninteresting characters.

Edited by Con
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