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Sometimes a movie comes around that absolutely defines a movement in cinema and changes it forever. For the French New Wave, it was Breathless (Godard, 1961), for the Film Brats’ revolution, it was The Godfather, (Coppola, 1978), and for anime, it is Akira (Otomo, 1988).

Akira is a 1988 film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, the movie was a critical supernova and is all over top lists of critics top animated films, sci-fi films¹, and just top films period, coming in at #440 on Empire magazine’s top 500 films of all time.

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Similar to the way that in 1978, Coppola’s The Godfather bounded onto the screens of cinemas everywhere and announced to the world that the film brats were running things now; Akira sprang into theaters and announced that anime was a legitimate cinematic movement.

The film tells the story of a pair of young men in a motorcycle gang who live in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo where society brink of collapse. When one of them, named Tetsuo, develops psychic powers and goes on a quest to find an incredibly powerful psychic named Akira. The other, named Kaneda, must team up with a group of resistance fighters in order to stop his childhood friend, and save the world.  

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Obviously the plot seems a little all over the place, but I wanted to omit certain spoilers to make your overall viewing enjoyment more pleasureable. But let me tell you, this film is a masterpiece, with a spectacular conclusion that is brutal and guttural and beautiful, all rolled into one experience. (It’s definitely NOT for kids.³)

Akira’s story is captivating, and has managed to engross and inspire Hollywood filmmakers throughout the industry. Akira has also been cited as a major influence on live-action films such as The Matrix (Wachowski Sisters, 1999), Chronicle² (Trank, 2012), and Looper (Johnson, 2012), as well as television shows such as Stranger Things.

Side note: If you haven’t noticed from my posts at this point, the Wachowski siblings took a LOT of inspiration for The Matrix from films throughout the medium of anime.  

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Akira, is, in a sense, the most important anime film in existence, for a couple of reasons. It had a tremendous impact on the industry, by displaying the true potential for spectacle and quality in the anime industry.

It established the fact that a big budget anime film is not only worth investing in, but pushing as the future, because after Akira anime films soon became a massive part of the Japanese film culture.

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Akira isn’t just a great anime film.

It’s simply a great film.

End of story.

 

I love this film so much that I could go on all day about it, so I did. If you click the link below, it can take you to a podcast that I filmed with a  friend and fellow cinefile.

Don’t let the 40 minute length of the talk scare you, after about 15 minutes we start to delve into a spoiler-filled discussion of the content and I mention that you can stop listening in order to avoid them. So you can feel free to exit out of after that, or you can stay if you don’t mind having the film spoiled for you!

 

References:

1) https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/akira-otomo-fantasy-sci-fi

2) https://web.archive.org/web/20140226195315/http://io9.com/5881852/chronicle-is-a-movie-about-every-teens-fantasy-of-fighting-back 

3) https://web.archive.org/web/20131203030233/http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-03-30/entertainment/9001260575_1_katsuhiro-otomo-japanese-akira

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on ““Akira” A Review of the Godfather of the Anime Industry

  1. Your review of “Akira” really makes me want to see the movie! I like that you mentioned that it’s just a great film in general, regardless of genre. But for a movie that had tremendous impact on the anime industry, I really do want to check it out! I tried not to listen too far into the podcast to avoid the spoilers, and the picture on the YouTube link made me chuckle 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I highly recommend it, Both as a fan, and a film snob, it’s a really interesting, really cool movie, My cousin claims to have had a spiritual experience while watching it, if that further entices you!

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  2. You are very passionate about anime and I wish I was as stuck to a style of film like that. I personally like rom coms but still am not this passionate about them. You really informed us of the impact anime has had not only on other anime films, but also films out side of anime. I am sure this is a really great movie and maybe I will see it someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, as far as impact goes, Akira is by far the most impactful on the cinematic world. It was super important to everything! I am glad my passion is shining through, because these films, and really cinema as a whole is something that I am really passionate about.

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  3. This really sounds interesting, and if it is really that important to the anime film industry, I guess it must be. Obviously not knowing much about the genre, I was surprised about the content of this film. Because it is animated, I sort of assumed that the genre was pretty much intended for everyone. Your note about “Akira” not being for children, and rightly so, clearly proves that thought wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the film is super brutal, if I was a kid and I saw some of the imagery in the film, I would probably be pretty disturbed.

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  4. Again you do a great job relating the anime genre and movies to other genres that people are going to be more familiar with. I think the way you describe Akira is a great way to lower the guards of a new audience. It didn’t click with me until you mentioned it, but the Matrix definitely feels like it could belong in the anime genre and you can see the influences from the genre in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! And in regard to the Matrix, portion of your comment, a group of anime directors from Japan released an anthology of short films all based off of the world of the matrix called The Animatrix, some of the films are better than others, but overall, it’s pretty interesting and worth checking out if you liked the Matrix movies.

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  5. Landen,

    You have opened up my mind to just how big of an influence the anime film indsutry is on American made films! All of the movies and shows you have mentioned have all gotten high praise and it makes me wonder if this film will be made into an American film at some point, just like Ghost in the Shell was. It sounds interesting and if Empire had named it a best movie that says a lot as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is really stupendous, and, I wouldn’t put it past hollywood to try and remake it, but however I would call in to question the quality of a live action remake, I feel like some of the imagery wouldn’t translate well. :/ but if it did, I would love to see the adaptation!

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  6. I love Akira! The first time I have seen the movie was only a year ago or so, but I have watched it many times since then. I think it is ridiculous it is only ranked 440 out of all movies. It should at least be in the three hundreds, especially what it has done for amine films. I always recommend it to my friends and they never believe how good it is until I finally make them watch it. Good to see you uploading Youtube videos as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I knew that I would have a lot more to say about the film because it really has so much content and things to discuss! I totally agree about that, as someone who has seen too many films, Akira definitely deserves to be higher.

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  7. I love that you are so passionate about these films you keep writing about. My personal favorite are romantic comedies (typical) and I could probably go on for days on end about all of my favorites. Also, I really liked how you included the video and I really appreciated the photoshop edit of your face in the photo. Ha. Another good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like animated films because they are just like normal films, but aesthetically prettier! There are a lot of good romcoms in anime too, actually one of my favorite movies of all time is a romcom called “Tamako Love Story” it’s pretty great!

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  8. Landen, I love reading your posts. Off the various blogs I’m reading yours offer the most insight on a topic i have the least knowledge about. After reading your review on “Akira”, I can tell you absolutely love the film, not just as an anime but as you would any hollywood film. I also enjoy your podcast review of the movie, especially when you guys reminded that Kanye West did use the “Akira” theme in “Stronger”. It made me go back and watch the song. Btw good job with the podcast

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man! I am glad you enjoyed the podcast! And the Kanye West reference was so interesting that I felt it would be foolish for me not to mention it!

      Like

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