Anime · Film · review

A Classic Flop (Akira Film Review)

Genre: Action, sci-fi, horror, supernatural, seinen

Rating: R-17+

Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha

Available on: FunimationNow


In 1988, Japan experienced the disaster which would ignite world war three. Many years later Tokyo has been reborn and is now known as Neo Tokyo. The city is filled with violence and terrorism and many are fighting against the government. The City has a number of gangs including Kaneda Shoutarou’s group known as “the capsules” who fight against a rivalling gang known as “the clowns”. One day whilst in the midst of the gang wars, one of Kaneda’s gang mates named Shima Tetsuo ends up in an accident. The accident leads to him gaining special powers and abilities which are far too powerful and could possibly bring the city to a crashing halt. The film follows both Kaneda and the government in trying to track down Tetsuo and trying to figure out what the hell is going on.


I have always held older anime at arms length. Anything deemed to be a “classic” or is raved about to the point of a God like existence within the anime world just makes me run in the other direction. The hype is unreal when it comes to older “classics” within the realms of anime and stuff from our childhood or stuff from the 80s and 90s tends to get stuck on a very high pedestal. My point is, Akira, a so called “classic” was a massive flop for me and it’s two hours of my life which I will never get back.

Akira, could have worked as it has both a great concept and vintage aesthetic visuals which are appealing to the viewer. The execution in which the film chose to use to tell its story was so incredibly poor and it was the ultimate flop for me as an anime fan. I have had my fair share of confusing concepts in anime. Steins Gate is a great example of this as it starts off confusing but slowly builds its story until all the pieces finally fall into place. Akira, however both started off and ended in a confusing way in which I was left scratching my head at the whole point of the film. It made me feel dumb and as if I just missed something and no film should make you feel that way. The film didn’t give me a reason to care about any part of the plot. It threw in a bunch of characters and expected me to care about them without a good reason. Kaneda and his crew are a biker gang who fight against another gang who wear clown masks, they also all happen to be a bunch of assholes who don’t act very gentlemanly towards their female friends. The military are running around after a green zombie looking kid who also has more green zombie like friends who all look about 200 years old but there is no explanation as to why they are so old and wrinkly and to top it all off there is a dumb “romantic interest” with Kaneda liking Kei which blossoms out of nowhere with absolutely no explanation. Oh, I almost forget to mention that 90% the characters look the same which wasn’t helpful at all as I spent a vast majority of time trying to pick out who was who.

Akira Film Review
What is this, Otsumatsu-san? They all look the damn same!

The character and overall story development just wasn’t there. I think the only character which truly got any time to shine in this department was Tetsuo as we got to know him and his goal as the main “villain” of the film and even then it felt very lacklustre. I felt no sort of attachment to any character throughout the entire film which is the last nail in the coffin for me as an anime and film consumer. I headed onto MAL after finishing the film and found that the synopsis on there gave more information within a few sentences compared to the entire two hour film. The synopsis describes that “Akira” who is a young boy with extreme psychic powers was the one to cause the explosion which led to world war three at the beginning of the film. I never pieced those two pieces together because it didn’t seem obvious to me. The film doesn’t explain these important plot points which is maddening. I shouldn’t have to read the synopsis in order to gain a better understanding of what the film is trying to convey, which proves further that the story telling for this movie was horrendously done. I think even adding in some voices overs like getting Kaneda or even Tetsuo to narrate throughout the film might have helped me to appreciate the storytelling more. It just felt like a jumbled mess of ideas.

The best part of Akira was definitely the visual aesthetics. I enjoyed looking at the world around the characters more than the characters themselves. As mentioned previously, the characters often all looked the same so the scenery made for a nice change. The condensed, compact and brightly lit aesthetics of Tokyo and this film really brought those visuals to life. I think especially because the film now has a vintage flavour to it these days, I think the old vintage animation with the modern vibe of the cityscapes just looks beautiful.

However, beautiful and well detailed backgrounds cannot carry the weight of Akira alone. Overall, as an anime fan I cannot really see why this film is held in such high regard by people. It has the building blocks for being an awesome film but is far too unpolished for my taste.

Overall rating: 5/10

Until next time thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great day!

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19 thoughts on “A Classic Flop (Akira Film Review)

  1. To be honest, I see Akira as the baseline of what great Sci-Fi could look like and what mature content it can reach. There’s a reason why so many animated features and sci-fi flicks take inspiration from PARTS of Akira. I agree with you in that it isn’t the strongest movie plot-wise, but seeing all the things I would see in future sci-fi movies made the experience worth it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally get what you mean with that and as I have mentioned to others in the comments, I appreciate its influence on other sci-fi and animated content! I think I would probably enjoy it more if I read the manga but I like how it has impacted other things which I probably enjoy without even realising how it has impacted said thing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For me it’s definitely a classic and like Lumi said it’s the foundation and inspiration for so many sci-fi movies. I loved the levels of detail that was weaved into the story. You had the economic downturn following the rebuilding of Neo-Tokyo, social unrest, military power grab, illegal research, etc. It’s not as detailed as the manga, but as it’s own story I really enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally respect that! I agree with the fact that it has had an impact on many other things over the years and I think it is pretty awesome that it has influenced so much but personally I just didn’t seem to click with it. I think if I read the manga I would maybe like it better. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t really get Akira either when I watched it but I’m glad I did because the influence of it is noticeable in other anime. That said, I’m not rushing to watch it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, this one is a hard thing to get into because of how it is. I’m still completely scared on how I would write about this one in the near future because it’s jarring in some ways. I personally like it, but it’s an acquired taste because it’s a third act of something and you need to fill in the blanks yourself.

    But this was the film that woke up a lot of the anime fandom and told them “anime is here and it can be beautiful and bloody”. Because it was this thing beyond comprehension, it attracted people to it and thus people became anime fans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get what you are saying, it is very jarring and I think the fact you have to fill in the blanks was what was so off-putting for me.

      I know what you mean about waking up people within the fandom though. Akira really packs a punch in that respect and I can appreciate the fact that it had such an impact within the community.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t seen this in years, so how I’d feel about it now as someone who is far more familiar with anime versus when I was someone who didn’t know WTF anime was, is going to be HECKA different. I do remember, however, that I had never seen science-fiction depicted quite like it. It was so strange and so fucking weird, but so bloody and such a work of mindfuckery that I was blown away by it. I am curious as to how I’d receive it now, so I one day I shall re-watch and share my prattles. I have the manga and it’s still a bag of mindfuckery, but I also love those kinds of narratives. I do love your review though and your honesty about it. 🙂 It’s definitely not going to be something that everyone will enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like my review of it, I was worried when writing it that I might rile some people up but everyone is just so chilled out and respectful about everyones opinions! 😀 It is a very WTF film and when watching I could see the world and all of its potential but it just didn’t sit well with me personally. I think I’ll have to pick up the manga at some point in the future and give that a go! If you do re-watch it again soon I would love to hear what you think of it compared to when you first saw it. That would make for an interesting read! 😀


  6. My facination with Akira stems from my exposure as a kid. If I watched it the first time as an adult, it wouldn’t have given me lifelong impressions. In either case, Kenada’s jacket and bike are so cool no matter the decade.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a review of Akira giving it less than a stellar score. That’s one movie I haven’t seen in a while and should re-watch. The visuals still hold up to this day which I won’t argue with. The storyline does get really weird, so I hear you there. It certainly has influence when Dark City and even Kanye West of all people were inspired by it. If there’s one thing that I would certainly defend is that Tetsuo Shima didn’t deserve to be plagiarized when SNK made some of the King of Fighters games in the early 00s with the K9999 character. That was a shameless ripoff and they stopped using that character in future games lest they get sued. Could be worse, Tetsuo. You could’ve been cloned as hard as Claw from Kimba the White Lion as far as anime characters are concerned.

    Anyways, that was a good review despite having different opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, glad you liked the review! I feel that I am most likely in the small percentage of people who didn’t vibe with this film haha. I definitely appreciate how much the film has done for pop culture as it holds as a great inspiration for many but I guess it just wasn’t for me. I think I might have enjoyed and appriciated the manga a lot more since the storyline will be a lot more fleshed out so maybe one day I’ll get chance to give it a read! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem! Don’t feel bad. I feel the same way when it comes to The Garden of Words for example. That’s totally fine. I’ve read a bit of the manga and there’s more story compared to just 2 hours in the movie. Makes me wonder if there should be a TV series remake of sorts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I think everyone has that one thing that everyone else loves but it does nothing for you haha. Definitely nothing to feel bad about. From what I’ve heard I think the movie just took the first and last volumes and sort of smashed them together into a 2 hour film. It would probably had worked better as a long running anime series 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Certainly. No wonder I liked doing that Unpopular Opinions tag a while ago on one of my blogs. Haha! That makes a lot of sense with how the adaptation could’ve worked out. A longer running series or at least a movie series could work.

        Liked by 1 person

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