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