Monday, May 23, 2016

Film Review: Akira (1988)

Akira (Review)
Japan/1988
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a mesmerizing experience for fans of all types."

In Neo-Tokyo, a top-secret military project turns a biker gang member into a powerful psychic being and only his best friend and a group of psychics can stop him...

Akira follows biker gang members Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata) and Tetsuo (Nozomu Sasaki). One night, after pummeling a rival gang, Tetsuo runs into an escaped psychic, which causes him to wreck. Kaneda arrives moments later and finds the same psychic. Before he can help Tetsuo or question anything, the military swoops in and takes them away. Although he's eventually freed, along with Kei (Mami Koyama), a resistance member, Kaneda can't help but wonder where the military has placed Tetsuo. Fortunately for him, Tetsuo escapes and the gang find out about his newfound psychic ability. Of course, the military won't let him run loose. It has much more story, intertwined with a rich world and intriguing themes, but I'll stop my little synopsis here. This is a 'the less you know, the better' type of film. You can expect an unforgettable climax and a provocative finale, though.


Akira is a fantastic film – whether you're looking at it at face-value or digging deep into its intricacies. The film brings you into a vibrant yet grungy world filled with neon colors and a wide array of characters. The world is rich and immersive, which in turn hooks you into the narrative. The plot, as I stated above, is also spectacular. On the surface, you have an action-packed superhero-esque film, filled with explosive thrills. Looking a bit deeper, you have quite a provocative experience in your hands – themes of power and corruption, especially in terms of government, and even empowerment of youth are evident – and much more. Regardless, you can thank the superb visuals for both the action and the thematic value. There's a lot you might miss during your initial viewing, so it's definitely worth watching again. (and again...)

As usual, I watched the original Japanese dub. The voice acting from Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, and Mami Koyama is fantastic. The supporting cast is also great. I find the lines are always executed with passion and enthusiasm when I watch the original dubs. It can be a tad over the top at times, but that's part of the charm. The film is gorgeous. From the animation to the art style, Akira sweeps you into an incredible world. The music is also superb. The often unconventional soundtrack is epic in every sense of the word. Akira is written by Katsuhiro Otomo and Izo Hashimoto; Katsuhiro also directs. I've watched this film a dozen times, maybe more, but I'm not familiar with the source material – so I can't comment on that. I will say: the writing and direction in this film is fantastic on its own.

Overall, Akira is a fantastic film. It's a mesmerizing experience for fans of all types. Whether you're looking for a blockbuster action spectacle or a provocative SciFi experience, Akira delivers without a flaw in its DNA. For fans of film in general, you have to watch this movie – you have to. If you've skipped it because it's animated, open your mind a bit and let this masterful experience tinker with your brain. Go ahead!

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity.

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