January 4, 2013

Start The New Year With An Anime Classic

Akira is a Japanese animated film released originally in 1988. Don’t worry, I know what you are thinking: “Whoa man, this isn’t gonna be some super bright, big-eyed cartoon that features girls with huge boobs and an obsession for octopus tentacles that some lonely person watches in their Mom’s basement, right?”

You are correct, my good Sir or Ma’am! This movie came before all that weird stuff (or at least abstained from using such perverse themes that now seem so frequent).

On the other hand this isn’t some Kidz-Bop what the fudge cake movie that I’m recommending so you can shut the front door!

No, this feature is an affair to put the kids to bed for, but not some adult cartoon that will have you feeling all weird after you watch it.

It’s time we had a little talk about this movie. It was the revolution that wasn’t televised.

The movie itself centers on a young motorcycle gang in the inner city of Neo-Tokyo during the year 2019, the remains of what was once known as Tokyo after a huge explosion takes place. The city is like something out of a cyberpunk novel, complete with holograms, neon lights and even lightcycles. The gang does all the activities one would come to expect but only when one of the members gains psychic abilities through a freak accident do things really get interesting.

The film’s main character is named Tetsuo (don’t worry it’ll be easier to pronounce after you have viewed the flick). He is an orphan in this dystopian city and also the weakest link of the gang he’s apart of and if you’ve ever been in a real gang, or at least played Grand Theft Auto, you would know that being at the bottom of the criminal totem pole means not even an ounce of respect. This is the member who ironically inherits such supernatural abilities.

This is where the themes come to play here and for this instance we deal with power and pride. What if the powerless became the most powerful? What if the meek inherited the Earth? Will they stay humble while having everything or will the power make them mad? In this case we have the lackey of the group. No money, no cool bike and no self-confidence. This is the foundation of Tetsuo’s character.

Can he manage to be the best judge of his own abilities?

Well unfortunately the character dives into some pretty dark decisions with his new found abilities, which you have to realize was very shocking considering the time period. Think of the mid to late 80’s where age-old idols finally got a piece of modern movie making like Superman and even Disney characters alike got extraordinary abilities and used them for the good of others instead of using them for personal vendettas and selfish gains.

This is where the director flips the script and throws age-old theories out the window. Instead of using templates like having three acts – setup, conflict and resolution – the director decides to go from bad to worse and then to horrible in the most creative ways.

Don’t worry, that is about first few minutes of the movie and I intentionally left the other plot shockers that appear later in the flick out for you to discover in your own time. The movie carries a lot of heart, even in the darkest of scenes, but I encourage you to check it out.

Time has treated this movie quite well since it has become a cult classic and revered as a staple in the category of Japanese filmmaking. Since then the movie has been released on DVD and also on Blu-ray, which can be found here. If you are a movie buff (or an animation nerd like me) I’m sure you will enjoy taking a part of your day to prep the popcorn and grab some buds and enjoy a trip through this classic epic of pride and power.

Image Credit: Manga Entertainment, LLC

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