Review: Akira

Akira is a movie from 1988, a cyberpunk japanese cartoon, maybe a little too fruity for some, but I really liked it. This movie was introduced to me by my girlfriend, who already had a very positive review for the movie, and we watched it together on a weekend. A little background for the movie, it’s set in a dystopian 2019 in Neo-Tokyo, a city still in the cradle of destruction, infested with corruption. The city has very common events of terrorism, anti-government tendicies, and lots of gang violence. The movie’s protagonist is Shōtarō Kaneda, the leader of a motorcycle gang. His childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, gets involved in a biking accident and develops telekinetic powers. 

   Of course, the government gets a hold of him after the development, and they discover that there are multiple children, with similar abilities, him and Akira. Akira was the first child responsible for destroying Tokyo, in order for it to become Tetsuo’s Neo-Tokyo, of course they consider killing Tetsuo because of this, they don’t want to hit another reset button. Tetsuo escapes them and steals Kaneda’s bike, which he’s had an obsession with since he got it, and runs away with his girlfriend Kaori. Tetsuo suffers severe headaches and hallucinations and is taken to return to the hospital by a government group. The biker gang and a resistance group plan to break him out again. 

Tetsuo fights for himself, he uses his power to fight back violently against the government, which he wins and this goes to his head, which is a major turning point in the movie. He goes to find Akira to help him in his death path to destroy everything and everyone that gets in his way. He takes away their ability to control his powers and murders a previous friend of his. Kaneda vows revenge against him, no longer on his side. He realizes that he’s too far gone to save now. Tetsuo frees Akira, absorbs his power, and proceeds to kill the two other psychic children that were in the facility with them. The government and his friends all fight against him now. A last desperate attempt to save Tokyo from destruction again. 

Tetsuo loses control of his power and mutates in a gigantic mass that starts to grow and consume everything, Akira is awakened and told to stop him, Akira creates another cataclysm event that takes Tetsuo and Kaneda to another dimension, Neo-Tokyo is destroyed again and they organize efforts to rescue Kaneda from the dimension. They save Kaneda and return him to the right dimension and assure that Akira will make sure Tetsuo is safe, the cataclysm reverses, and water floods the city. The gang, minus Tetsuo, ride off into the sunset, while Tetsuo ceases to become human. And that’s the end of the movie. 

This movie is a stepping stone for a lot of American hits, The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, Battle Angel Alita, Kill Bill, Chronicle, The Dark Knight, Stranger Things. As well as several other media influences, it was a major influence on Kanye West’s work, and quoted as his favorite anime, a theme in Michael Jackson music videos and most likely music. There’s an odd coincidence in the movie as well, in Akira, the 2020 Olympics got canceled. The 2021 Summer Olympics, to be held in Tokyo, have gotten postponed due to coronavirus. Just a coincidence though, as of now anyway, let’s hope we don’t have an Akira situation on our hands. But, really, this movie was great, the art style amazing, the soundtrack amazing, and the story even better, it has huge themes, depth, and significance, and I believe should be wider known, truly a classic movie robbed of its glory. 

It pulls at the heartstrings, it shows deeper understanding, a fun movie for the intellectual watcher, and cinematic for the non-intellectual watcher. There’s so much to this movie, political undertones, and the fragility of humanity, displays of the human behavior on a power high and how it can get away from us so easily. It could easily be referenced to a reflection of historical events and how dictators lost their grip on their power.