I was having trouble trying to figure out what I wanted to talk about for a Throwback Thursday post and then thought, maybe I should talk about what every anime fan SHOULD/SHOULD’VE watched… AKIRA! Akira is a gem in anime history and has paved the way not only for anime but movies like The Matrix and The Chronical. There are many reasons why this is a must watch for all anime fans and why it still withstands time as one of the best anime films of all time.
If you haven’t watched Akira, here is the synopsis provided by MAL:
Japan, 1988. An explosion caused by a young boy with psychic powers tears through the city of Tokyo and ignites the fuse that leads to World War III. In order to prevent any further destruction, he is captured and taken into custody, never to be heard from again. Now, in the year 2019, a restored version of the city known as Neo-Tokyo—an area rife with gang violence and terrorism against the current government—stands in its place. Here, Shoutarou Kaneda leads “the Capsules,” a group of misfits known for riding large, custom motorcycles and being in constant conflict with their rivals “the Clowns.”
During one of these battles, Shoutarou’s best friend Tetsuo Shima is caught up in an accident with an esper who finds himself in the streets of Tokyo after escaping confinement from a government institution. Through this encounter, Tetsuo begins to develop his own mysterious abilities, as the government seeks to quarantine this latest psychic in a desperate attempt to prevent him from unleashing the destructive power that could once again bring the city to its knees.
So, what is so great about an anime film from 1989? Pretty sure that’s what some of the younger generations would say. The thing is, Akira’s not only a great anime but also a great piece of cinematography. The way the story is told is mostly through how it is directed and less explanation. Many anime series have this problem where they need to keep the audience informed while Akira makes a judgment call and expects the viewer to understand what’s going. Some series make you feel as though they are questioning your intelligence by making things far too obvious.
One thing that many people don’t know is, Akira had all of its voiceovers and soundtrack completed before any animation happened. This is great mainly because you can see well done capturing of mouth movement and some mannerisms being transferred from the voice actors making it feel more natural. With the soundtrack being completed, the animators may have a better idea of what each scene’s tone may be making everything feel cohesive.
All of the action sequences are very well done but this film isn’t about the action. As much as I enjoy watching scenes like Kaneda jump on a motorcycle and kick someone in the face, this film is not a lump of Sakuga. If anything action is only used to present to the viewer how strong Tetsuo is and tell the story of how rough Neo-Tokyo is. So, for those Sakuga lovers, this may not be a film for you but give it a shot. The story should be compelling enough for you.
I’m not sure how big/important this is but I thought it was a great thing that I would love to see with more anime. Having the manga creator direct the anime adaption. I can’t really think of anyone else off the top of my head that’s done this except Satoshi Kon. I believe this was a key component of this films greatness. I know that not all mangakas can become directors, it’s a whole nother craft but imagine how great it would be if we have seen more of that in the anime community today.
So, go watch it if you haven’t! I recommend grabbing the 25th anniversary Bluray set. Here is a link to it on Amazon and If you have Crunchyroll, you can find it here! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. I would love to hear what your favorite anime films are! Leave them down in the comments below. To start it off, I recently fell for Paprika. Such a wonderful film!