[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B004O2AZHI][/pullquote] It could be said that Akira is the greatest anime of all time. Many people have said it, and upon watching it, it could well be. The story is deep, complex, and thought-provoking, the voice acting (both English and Japanese) is superb, the animation is beyond beautiful, and it really shows the power animation can give a film maker. Akira stands as not only a landmark in Japanese animation, but a landmark for film making in general.
Set in a dystopian Neo-Tokyo in 2019, and while the government is trying to re-build after World War III, the film revolves around biker Tetsuo Shima (Nozomu Sasaki Japanese, Jan Rabson English) and his psychic powers and the biker gang member Shotaro Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata/Cam Clarke), who tries to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the dangerous psychic Akira. Tetsuo, after discovering these powers, goes mad with power, and tries to release Akira once again. It’s up to Kaneda and fellow rebel Kei (Mami Koyama/Lara Cody) to stop Tetsuo from potentially destroying the world.
At no point is Akira a casual watch. The sheer ruthlessness of the violence is very disturbing, although Akira handles it very well. It only has extreme violence when necessary (even though it’s necessary very often) and it isn’t gratuitous in any way. The abusive police are difficult to watch, although it helps the viewer sympathise with the criminals and the rebels, and it takes a special kind of film to do that. Also, the very twisted climax is not for anyone who is squeamish, as the gore and gross imagery are very, very extreme. If anyone ever says to you that violence is not as disturbing in animation as in live-action, show them this. Right after Spawn: The Animated Series.
Akira is one of the first films to have it’s subject matter extreme psychic powers. Since then, there have been plenty of films about powers that can manipulate anything, and are on a terrifyingly huge level. They were psychic powers in films before, but none on this scale. No anime film since has looked as good as Akira. The set pieces are beautiful, and its cinematography is absolutely fantastic. The voice-acting is also very good, with this being one of the few films where the English dub is just as good as the original.
Although the ending is slightly bitter-sweet, it gives that uplifting feeling that only comes after watching a truly great film. The other film that is on par with this is Tekkon Kinkreet, and even that’s debatable. Akira is a remarkable movie that really does deserve your time.