Akira (1988)

Shotaro Kaneda from the anime classic,
Akira”.

 Arguably one of the most influential anime films to be created is the 1988 cult classic Akira, which I herald as a milestone achievement in animated movies. Manga artist and film director/screen writer Katsuhiro Otomo worked eight years on this story’s screen adaptation and without hesitation, I rank this among the five best animated films of all time.

 This science fiction tale takes place in a post apocalyptic Neo Tokyo, where motorcycles gangs roam the street in battle against other gangs. Kaneda (voice of Mitsuo Iwata) leads his gang in a brawl against the rival ‘Clowns’ gang that ends with Kaneda’s good friend, Tetsuo, (voice of Nozomu Sasaki) hospitalized. Tetsuo is monitored by a secret government agency that discovers the boy has incredible psychic powers, powers similar to a young boy in their possession named Akira. Tetsuo struggles to keep control of this new found power of his but slowly turns into a raging, seemingly unstoppable force. The portrayal of this out of control teenager is all too human and Tetsuo’s shortcoming with his own temper lead to a dramatic conclusion, but the storyline is just one piece of what makes this a must see film. The color and animating styles used in Akira set the tone and pace for future films to incorporate with dramatic timing of explosions, representational force enhanced with lines and color-a real eye opener for anyone to watch.

 For American audiences (or anyone unfamiliar with Japanese audio) used to reading subtitles I would suggest getting the original version to watch, as the original actor’s voices enhance the emotions and angst behind the characters. I have watched 3 versions of this film, the original release and the two English dubbed versions (the last being released in 2001) and gave noticed slight differences in the dialogue of all 3 films, however, it has not distracted from the entire experience of this film in any way. Watch this one a few times and take in all the arduous work that went into this movie.

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