A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop.
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Twenty one years ago, an anime was created that would shape the future of most films and anime to come. That anime was Akira. Based on Katsuhiro Otomo's hit manga, Akira was one of the first anime's to really make an impact on the western world and for very good reason.
Firstly I can say with some safety that you will never see any film quite like this and you will never forget this film either, with its blend of futuristic visuals, dramatic score and epic scale it is not a film you will quickly forget. With dark social and political themes such as war, terrorism, rebellion, human testing and nuclear weapons, this is a film that can be as socially relevant today as it was when it was released twenty one years ago, showing that it is not just an excellent sci-fi film, but also has very important messages it needs to deliver to society.
The film begins with an explanation of how Neo-Tokyo was created due to world war three, then we see our two 'heroes' , Tetsuo and Kaneda. After a series of very unfortunate events Tetsuo is carried off to a secret government facility, where we discover he has god like powers just like the eponymous Akira that destroyed Neo-Tokyo thirty one years earlier. This is the catalyst for the films major events and sets the audience up for something spectacular.
The animation may seem slightly dated now considering it is twenty one years old, but in fact it has so much detail and each frame and scene is beautifully animated that you won't even notice. A few scenes that will stick out, with out trying to give too much away, are some of the most memorable, for instance, when after a failed terrorist attack, we see a grenade casually discarded and we almost forget about it, if it wasn't for the fact we see it go off in the distance after some key dialogue. Nothing in this film is left out and everything is remembered down to the smallest detail.
Another key scene which any film fan would have to see is the attack of the twenty foot teddy bears, I can't say where they come from or what they really are, but it is one of the most fantastically strange and quite creepy moments in a film I have ever seen to this day.
The moment that everyone will gasp in amazement at, is the final transformation of Tetsuo, when we finally see what he becomes it the one of the most ingenious and disturbing images with an outcome no one could have predicted. These moments truly make you realise that film makers and animators do not need to rely on CGI graphics constantly these days to get a dramatic effect, painstakingly hand drawn detail can sometimes be the best option and Akira is the one to show them how it's done.
The soundtrack is a mixture of techno, classical and sounds almost like something a cyberpunk would listen too, not surprising considering that this film has heavy tones of cyberpunk thrown in everywhere, you just need to look at Kaneda and Tetsuo's bikes for that proof. But the soundtrack itself adds to the drama and is used at key moments, best shown in Kaneda's theme, when he is riding his bike across the highway and the song plays. A moment where film and soundtrack are perfectly in sync with each other.
As for the acting I cannot really comment, as there are three versions of this film and I have only seen the 1988 English Streamline dub, as there are different versions out there I recommend watching them all, but as for the version I saw, it was well performed by all of the cast and the two actors who played Kaneda and Tetsuo (Cam Clarke and Jan Rabson), really bring the characters to life and make the audience pay attention when they are on screen.
Akira is a film that is important to the film industry in many ways, it was one of the first anime's released in the U.K and started the anime trend in the U.K, so we have a lot to thank Akira for over here, but it also showed that animated feature films can be just as deep and involving as live action. If you want something that you have never seen the like of before, watch Akira now before it is remade and the magic is gone, you will not be disappointed that you did.