Sunday January 24, 2010 21:18

Movie #0009 – Akira (1988)

Posted by Michael


Directed by: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Starring: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
Second Viewing

Synopsis: Neo-Tokyo, 2019 — a government agency experiments with giving children psionic powers, with potentially deadly results.

I’ve actually been meaning to revisit this movie for a while. I originally watched Akira a few years back — it was one of the first animated films from Japan (more concisely known as anime) that I ever saw, and it really solidified my admiration for anime, and also (if I’m remembering this right) helped to reignite my interest in animation in general. So obviously, my memory of this film is that it was really, really good. But did it hold up?

Yes. Yes it did. I’m a sucker for films that present a dark, dystopian take on a future society (stuff like Blade Runner and Brazil) and this is one of the best. The film’s vision of Neo-Tokyo in 2019 is always visually stunning. And in fact, this whole movie is a definite visual treat — from the haunting opening moments of Tokyo being decimated in a nuclear blast, to the bizarre, somewhat baffling but still-awesome conclusion, this is a movie that always looks really good. The animation is top notch (plus, it’s kind of refreshing to watch old-school traditional animation with very little computer assistance) as is the visual design of the film.

Of course, there’s the narrative, which is condensed from the 2000+ page comic (which I have not read). It starts out simply enough, with the shenanigans between two rival motorcycle gangs, though as it goes on it becomes somewhat more complex, leading up to a conclusion that probably raises as many questions as it answers. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, though. Did I understand everything about that ending? No. Did I enjoy it? Definitely. As I said in my post for 2001, I think there’s something to be said for an ending that leaves some things ambiguous and invites debate.

Buy the movie at Amazon

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