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|Index||383 reviews in total|
216 out of 235 people found the following review useful:
Landmark Japanese animation that opens boundaries and minds., 29 March 2005
Author: jpt27 from Brighton, England
'Akira' is an astonishingly influential film, easily as much so as
cinema's touchstones Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction. Its impact is made
more difficult to judge, though, given that it was made more than
sixteen years ago, and didn't make an initial impact outside of Japan.
Oddly, this made its influence even more profound, benefiting from
'word of mouth' and the influx of cheap VHS at the end of the Eighties.
It's also gained enough of a following to warrant being digitally
remastered, at a cost of over US$1 million, as a 'Special Edition,'
which I am basing these comments on.
Rather than suffering the humiliation of being advertised, Akira filtered, like a software virus, into the bedrooms of what would become Generation X. Hollywood began to sit up and pay attention after teens began abandoning the pap of the day like Last Action Hero, and started seeking out something different, dissident, and Akira finally had its audience. Japanese animation now has a firm presence in our media, and so many paths lead back to the cultural genesis of Akira. Finally, its role in the history of film was cemented with the release of last year's mega-hit, the Wachowski brothers' The Matrix. Without Akira, there is no Matrix, and with no Matrix, you have to wonder how very different Western cinema would be today.
So what is Akira? It's a Japanese animated film, an adaptation of 2,000 pages worth of graphic novel by Katsuhiro Otomo and set in the futuristic world of Neo-Tokyo. Rebuilt from the ashes of World War 3, it's a technological dream of neon, computers and soaring science, mated to the social nightmare of corrupt politicians, a rampant military and an oppressed working class. Add to this the rise of a powerful breed of psychics (or 'psionics') capable of various degrees of telepathy and telekinesis, and somehow linked to a top secret military project known as Akira, and Neo-Tokyo seems ready to explode. You can almost feel the heat, the sweat, and the grime, courtesy of the borderline-masochistic attention to detail in every frame of every scene of animation.
Akira is all about hyper-reality, which later became known as bullet time. Animation, and more importantly imagination, allows impossibly kinetic and 'free' camera movement. The style rams home every car crash, explosion and death defying stunt. It's not the easiest film to watch in one sitting, nor indeed, at all, but you'll come away knowing where the inspiration behind so many late Nineties blockbusters came from. More importantly, you'll appreciate how mediums come to influence other mediums, and barriers such as language and culture can be hurdled with ease.
It's not just an action-fest either. The main arc of the story is that of Tetsuo, who begins developing psychic powers but doesn't understand what is happening to him or the responsibilities that come with such godlike power. This opens the door to some genuinely moving scenes of film-making endeavour and artistic triumph, as Tetsuo wonders if he is losing his mind and eventually lashes out against anyone and everyone. The standout scene in the whole film, for me, should be mentioned about here. Whilst under observation in a hospital bed, Tetsuo hallucinates being attacked by childhood toys. Dreams and reality are folded into each other and so it remains for much of the rest of the film. Horizons peel away and reality itself seems to disintegrate, fragment after animated fragment, as Tetsuo battles his way to downtown Neo-Tokyo and prepares to face Akira, whatever that may mean.
The only other character developed to this level is his best friend Kaneda, who in a number of small, well-judged scenes, comes across as bright, breezy, confident and heroic, and on hand to reason with Tetsuo. No matter what point Tetsuo's powers escalate to, and no matter how much he is wanted by the police and the military, Kaneda just wants his old friend back, and it is this hope of redemption which gives the film its emotional backbone.
Other strengths include the intelligent use of sound. A minimum of scoring is used: mostly Japanese drums and percussion, and some voices during dramatic parts. More interesting is the use of silence, absolute flat silence, during key moments. It fits in very well with the themes of psychic/telepathic powers, and in a more general way, the vivid hyper-reality of the film's delivery. Put it this way - when you dream, you dream in a silence of implied words, and Akira knows this too.
I thought the dialogue was excellent too. The street kids have catchy and sardonic street lingo ("Tetsuo's our friend! If anyone's going to kill him, it should be us!") The military are represented by a titanic general whose lines have gained a certain amount of hilarity during translation ("You hedonistic fools! Can't you see it is utterly pointless to fight each other!") I found myself eagerly awaiting the next punchy exchange between players, which is something that Hollywood has been missing recently. In seven out of ten films I see, the dialogue is truly awful. How difficult can it be to get two people to talk naturally?
'Akira' is not for everyone. In the first twenty minutes we have strong language, an attempted rape and the kinetic carnage of a fight between rival biker gangs. Some will simply not tolerate this in an animated movie which is, despite all efforts, going to be viewed by younger children. Even if you can stomach the unsavoury content, you might be beaten by the sheer oddness of Japanese culture. (They certainly have an unhealthy obsession with seeing Tokyo laid to waste.) But if you can skip over these points and see the overall genius of Akira, you may just appreciate Akira's place on the pantheon of modern culture.
188 out of 270 people found the following review useful:
Be careful with this film., 16 January 1999
Author: Ryuji Henderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) from University of Michigan
*Stereotype: Akira is a gratuitous bloodbath.
Maybe, but it's also a hard-nosed societal critique. Gore fans get what they want, but they have some morality shoved down their throats, as well. Most people who hate this movie watch it with a predetermined mindset. . . It takes thought and patience to piece together its sophisticated story.
*Stereotype: Akira rocks!!
The animation equals or exceeds Disney's best, the music is awesome, and the characters are complex, but "Akira" has its flaws. Chunked together from a long pre-existing storyline and filled with gritty violence, "Akira" draws fanatics too bloodthirsty to appreciate its message, and scares away critics intelligent enough to understand it. It takes a very open mind to enjoy this movie.
All in all, be careful with this movie; it's not for everyone. Just ignore the hype on BOTH sides and judge for yourself. I recommend the subtitled version; the dub's voice actors suck and anyone who'll understand this movie is obviously smart enough to read.
126 out of 153 people found the following review useful:
A Masterpiece of Epic Proportion., 11 September 2002
Author: neoxman from Miami, FL
Visually Astonishing, Dark and Original is what best describes Katshuiro
Otomo's Masterpiece `AKIRA'. Now here is an animated film that is way
of his time, the film was released in 1988 even before Disney created
computer FX's in their animated features. AKIRA is one of my favorite
of all time it has beautiful visuals, great animation, an extraordinary
story and a wicked soundtrack. I have read the entire AKIRA manga comics
yes it makes the movie that much easier to understand but with the new DVD
edition which contains the correct dubbed version that allows the viewer
understand the film a little easier. I first saw AKIRA back in 1994 when I
was 14 years old and ever since then I have collected great anime, at
I was confused but yet intrigued and consumed by the plot, I wanted to
what the story was about. Finally after 4 times viewing the film I
understood the plot and the message Otomo wanted to deliver in this
The story is fascinating it takes place in the future in the city of
NEO-TOKYO were citizens live in a constant chaos of an urban revolution,
while the youth lives reckless on the dark streets gathering in bike gangs
the government proceeds with the so called `akira project'; a mayor step
scientific discovery based on human energy.
AKIRA is a movie about betrayal, love, loyalty, anger, and fiction. For those who do not understand it is a movie about the universe and how us humans connect with it, we use about 11% of our brains but what if we were able to use 40% or even 100% of it, what then? And what if some of that percentage was damaged by hate, depression, or anger, this is the case of TETSUO who is the center character of this film. The possibilities are far from anything we can imagine, `AKIRA' provides a fictional possibility that self energy exists within all of us and that is just as delicate as it is powerful.
This is an epic proportion animated feature, the action sequences are creatively amazing, the plot is very intriguing, dark and character driven like no other film. It is one of a kind and even after 14 years we have yet to see anything like it whether is an animated or a feature film.
86 out of 105 people found the following review useful:
Trademark Manga for the Western culture, 23 October 2001
Author: toji from Australia
Without a doubt the necessary injection of Manga culture Western audiences needed. Personal objections (or should I say appraisals) aside, Akira deconstructs the form of narrative and character development that we had all become accustomed to through Hollywood and produces a reasonably honest translation of Katsuhiro Otomo's Manga epic, with mass deletions of unnecessary characters and plot avenues. The story is complex enough to keep western audiences attention, yet simple enough to digest whilst taking in the wonderfull animation and excellent soundtrack (a collection of traditional Japanese instruments and modern day synthesised electronica that allow for elements of cinema to establish themselves for the audience) The conflict between the two main characters, Tetsuo and Kaneda is ultimately superceded by the films namesake, the mystery of the boy Akira, and as with very few films Hollywood produces it leaves it's more labour intensive thinking until the end. A delight to follow, with periods of intense action and thought provoking predictions of a neo society, one would like to think of the film as the pipe dream of one who predicted such tragic events as of September 11. Akira, whilst violent for the medium, is a lush metropolis of gang warfare, a psuedo examination into the possible, and a fantasy tale of elements long lost in modern cinema. A cool, entertaining piece littered with cult visions and awesome bikes.
72 out of 97 people found the following review useful:
The One and only Anime classic -- 10 (classic), 22 March 2005
When I first grabbed the cover box for AKIRA off the shelves of my
local video store, I had never heard the word "manga," (Japanese comic
book) nor "anime" (Japanimation) for that matter. Back then I would
have given that movie a 9 (excellent), since it was like nothing I had
ever seen before, was true graphic violence, but was still a bit too
long and too hard to understand. Ten years later, having watched a slew
of other anime productions, I would have given this movie an 8 (very
good) from memory had I not seen it again yesterday. After seeing AKIRA
for the first time in the original Japanese language, I have come to
fully appreciate its cultural and artistic merit.
Ten years ago, I watched the English dubbed AKIRA and understood absolutely no Japanese. Ignorance of the language made for funny jokes with my brother ("Just as my bullet was reaching the red line! You think you're so tough") but added nothing to the movie. Ten years later I understand both the language and the country, thanks in part to AKIRA, and I have finally realized that Katsuhiro Otomo had created a classic. While critics may know the director Kurosawa, it may take another 10 years for the name Otomo to make its way to the forefront of American cinematic consciousness.
From here on out, I have nothing but praise for this historical milestone. No other hand-drawn movie I have ever seen is done as meticulously. The pillar lined coliseum comes to mind. It's apparent on first viewing that an immense amount of effort was put into the hand-drawn animation. It seems as if every detail within the frame is in motion. This stands out in the ANIME industry, where so many directors don't bother with effort and instead choose to have a still frame frozen over five seconds. In my mind AKIRA's animation is peerless on an international scale.
Second, the Neo Tokyo depicted in AKIRA is definitely the one that should exist today. Nightlife is dark and violent. Fundamentalist Buddhist sects roam the streets chanting dogma and searching for answers. And most importantly, the medicated punk teenagers speak a crooked, thuggish Japanese slang that I haven't heard in any movie of recent memory. 1988 was Japan's heyday, what with the bubble economy and all, but since then the artistic vision of Otomo's AKIRA seems to have gotten stuck in an economic recession. I feel as if modern Tokyo and its Anime has diverged quite a bit from the Neo-Tokyo depicted in AKIRA.
My final comment is DO NOT rent the English dubbed version, as I did long ago. If by chance you've developed a familiarity with Japan's language and culture, AKIRA makes so much more sense, as it was animated for the Japanese language. The poor English dub job does nothing but distract BIG TIME. As Japan's economically exuberant and excessive 80's heyday fades further into the past, AKIRA will prove to be a relic of a cult imagination that may be fading as well. To watch it in English would be sacrilegious.
In homage to this classic, I've titled my homepage AKIRA-TETSUO, which is named after that demonic anger and guilt you feel when you fail -- the emotion that you can harness to wreak atomic havoc upon this green planet earth. No happy ending with this cataclysmic movie.
53 out of 67 people found the following review useful:
still the cornerstone of all modern anime, 8 February 2000
Author: cygnus x-1 from roanoke, va
i'll admit. Compared to the recent crop of anime, the animation in Akira
seems a bit dated and rough. But when you consider what came before Akira,
and the profound effect it had on all Japanese animators (just look at
everything that has come out since that mirrors the same style and themes),
this was justifiably groundbreaking stuff when it was originally
The film is very violent, and if you're an unfortunate soul who thinks that animation begins and ends with Disney, your eyes will probably be popping out of your head at some of the images. The plot definately requires the viewer to pay attention since it works with various themes on a lot of different levels to successfully propel the film to it's shocking and over-the-top conclusion.
A true classic in every since of the word and a great starting point for people wanting to get into Japanese animation. And anyone wanting to see where the current crop of anime is derived from, here it is..........
58 out of 83 people found the following review useful:
Best Animated Film Ever, 7 August 2005
Author: cmccann-2 from Canada
Akira is a film that surpasses all other anime, and is one of- if not the best animated film of all time, Akira has earned it's landmark as a break through milestone animated, The One thing about Akira is it is not for children Akira isn't gory but contains many bloody scenes as well as some strong language and a scene of partial nudity, other than that Akira is an excellent film. The film tells the story of young adolescent, oppressed by his cruel peers and the way they treat him, his name is Tetsuo, he is angry because everyone treats him like a kid, especially Kaneda, a close friend of Tetsuo. When Kaneda's biker gang accidentally enters a military operation, Tetuo is almost killed and then taken in by the government and used as a test sample, but these tests unleash Tetsuo's latent psychic ability, he then unleashes at the world that has oppressed him for so long with his new telekinetic abilities. It is up to Kaneda, with Kei and Kai, to stop Tetsuo's massive rampage, and so there starts a powerful thriller about human emotion and how it can lead to total corruption of the mind.
35 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Great Animation Film, 22 September 2004
Author: Petros Rodakinias from Volos, Greece
I only recently watched Akira (though I have heard a lot about it) and
I must say I am impressed (so much that I bought the DVD). This is,
beyond any doubt, one of the best animated films in existence. Visually
impressive, solid direction, with a compelling story (if a little
complicated), just the right amount of character development, good and
very appropriate soundtrack and an extensively detailed New Tokyo,
Akira manages to be as groundbreaking as it was when it was first
It's only drawback is that most people (including me) will probably have to watch it again (and again maybe) to completely understand the full story. Highly recommended (especially to anime fans). I give it 8 out of 10.
24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Every Anime fan have to start from a certain place., 22 December 2005
Author: Freddy from Denmark, Copenhagen
I was probably around 8, when I first saw Akira. It was my step dad who
asked me if I was interested in watching this Japanese cartoon. I
expected something like, my favorite children movies like The Lion King
or The Land before Time.
Akira however, was something else. At the time I was to young to understand English, since it was a second language for me. But I remember what kind of an affect it had on me. It was brutal, it was hard, it was edgy. The drums and Neo Tokyo lights flew through my little body as butter, as I witnessed death, gore and sadistic killings. Something my pure and innocent eyes had never seen before. And yet I was strangely excited. I was never tough as a kid. I was a afraid of the dark and often had nightmares about all kinds of things. But Akira, despite it's mature nature, just had me in awe. When I finally re-saw it many years later, when I was an old teenager, I was still in awe.
Akira is simply a wonderful and entertaining sci-fi movie. It was what introduced me to anime, and innovation in a hole new way. If you want to start watching anime or see, what all the fuss is about, then Akira is a good place to start. Even though it's over 17 years old today, it is still a fantastic and visually stunning animation. Even if you don't appreciate animation you owe it to yourself, to check it out. It has spectacular action, motorcycle-chase-sequences, mad scientists and tons of blood and shooting.
24 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
An anime that never ages, 15 November 2006
Author: da-most-wanted from United Kingdom
I remember the first time i watched this when i was 14, back then it
didn't mean much to me i just watched it because of the violence.
Growing up i cant count the number of times i have watched it but it
seems as though every time i watched it i uncovered something new in
the plot. On to the review then; There are two different dubs for this
film in English, the initial one i watched on VHS is much better then
the one on DVD. The voices match the characters and bring across
emotions very well in the VHS dub. In the DVD dub the voices seem alien
to the characters personalities, this may be due to the fact that I'm
used to seeing the film with the old dub.
The animation is very fluid, definitely a revolution in animation. The vast range of colours used really bring the metropolis alive. The start of the film where Kaneda and the crew are riding through the city you get to witness all sorts of sub-environments of the city, from tight alley ways where you can almost sense the deprivation to the bustling streets bright from the flashing neon lights.
The characters grow on you the further in to the film you get, at the beginning you can sense friction between Kaneda and Tetsuo, however as the film progresses you understand the past between these two characters and come to terms with their feelings. The colonel is also a very interesting character who seems to represent a beacon of hope constantly attempting to avoid the inevitable catastrophe headed for neo-tokyo.
The storyline revolves around two central characters, Tetsuo and Akira. It is heavily emphasised towards revealing what the next evolution of man is and whether or not the evolution would be in the best interest of man.
Closing comments, Akira is a must watch for any anime fan who appreciates a thought provoking storyline and dense characters.
Also watch; Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell:Innocence and Perfect Blue
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