Akira: something I watched in the desert

That’s a lie, it’s rated R now, but still, would be funny

Good day dear readers,

                Recently, I went with some friends on a road trip to see their family. After a long weekend in a land of pure flatness, I found something amazing in the house I was staying in. In the bottom corner of their movie cabinet was an entire section dedicated to anime. It wasn’t a huge variety, but it was more than I own.  After a brief conversation with the owner, he recommend I watch Akira, which, up until that point, I had heard a lot about but had yet to actually see it. I sat down to watch and was told ‘If you don’t know much about anime, you won’t understand this opening.” It opened with a shot of Tokyo exploding.

Akira is about a Neo-Tokyo; set in 2019 the story shows a view of a Tokyo after WWIII and the story of a biker gang that lives there.  At first, it seems evident that poverty has stricken much of the area, and a resistance is rising against the government. The story follows a teenager named Shotaro Kaneda, who leads a biker gang called ‘The Capsules’, and his rival friend, Tetsuo Shima.  After a fight with their rival gang ‘The Clowns’, they run into a boy named Takashi, who stops Tetsuo with a telepathic force, knocking him off his bike. After a run in with a secret government organization (who decides to take Tetsuo to the chopper, without the weapons) Kaneda goes off, seeking his friend and running into the lovely lady Kei.

When I first picked up the movie case I searched for the year it was made, 1988. I am not as familiar with anime of this era, but I recall watching several anime from the 90s, and I found that in terms of art, Akira seemed to be way ahead of its time.                Katsuhiro Otomo does an amazing job at using the technology of the time, producing beautiful animation and breathtaking scenes. I have told by many it was revolutionary, a true advancement, and though I was not around at the time to compare that, I’ll take their word to be true. The art is truly graceful, even the scene where someone’s insides become their outsides holds its own disturbing beauty (If you have a weak stomach, don’t eat before watching). The flow is smooth and there seems to be a lack of many ‘static’ scenes which so often leave with the feeling of ‘Why does that person in the background have no soul?’ It truly is a beautiful movie to watch.

The plot has its own charms. For a majority of the movie, I was asking myself who ‘Akira’ really was, and when they finally explained it, I wanted to know what that meant. By the end I had figured it out, and I began to understand the plot as a whole. I was truly able to ponder it, and ask myself what it was Katsuhiro Otomo wanted me to take from it, if anything. It kept me enthralled and interested, and left me satisfied. The ending itself is not direct, it is very much left to interpretation, but it does it in a way that lets you know what will probably happen, it’s very much intentionally so. The movie ends with a question, a question and something else (watch the movie to find out what that is). I honestly was very happy I stayed up late (therefore woke up tired) to watch it.

Characters were something I paid close attention to in this movie, I was doing an experiment of sorts. I was curious to see if I could justify the actions of the character by who the character was, if it made sense for them to do something by how the author had portrayed them to me.  I found that the characters did this well, each one had a defined personality, with individual characteristic and appearance. I can honestly state I was able to keep up with characters and their motives, each showing true depth and development.

I really enjoyed Akira as a whole, and plan to one day buy it myself. It truly is a masterpiece, and something any anime lover should add to their arsenal.  I hope you all go down to your video store (or open Netflix in another tab) and pick it up (add it to your queue). The beginning is wonderful, the middle is awesome, and the ending is amazing, and I honestly can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. It was not perfect of course, but I was too busy watching what I liked to pay attention to what I didn’t.  If you have any opinion about it, I’d love to hear it.

I’m going to try posting once a week again,