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In a time when lip movement just went up and down with barely any facial expression, Akira became a mile-stone for animation with its expressive facial movements and lip-synched movements of the mouth and sound. (The Japanese voice actors’ performance were recorded first, THEN the animation was based after it- the opposite of what is usually done.) A true classic, but at the same time known for being extremely confusing, violent, and covering touchy subjects such as ethics, youth delinquencies, and social unrest. The story is about Kaneda and Tetsuo, childhood friends who live in Neo-Tokyo in the year 2019, thirty-one years after the mysterious explosion that destroyed the original city. They are part of a youth bike gang which Kaneda leads, and during a fight with another gang, they run into a mysterious boy who happened to be an escaped government project. As armed soldiers come to retrieve the boy, Tetsuo is taken away as well. In a government hospital, they find dormant psychic abilities hidden in Tetsuo (much like the ones the boy possessed) and begin a series of tests on him to awaken his powers. Tetsuo eventually escapes the hospital, and upon returning to his friends, he begins to see disturbing illusions (his own guts spilling out of him, etc) and the name “Akira” keeps repeating in his head. Then with the awakening of his psychic powers, he brings to light his inferiority complex of living in Kaneda’s shadow and begins wreaking havoc to bring down everything that once looked down on him. The story goes on to how such an unstoppable force destroys half the city and how Tetsuo slowly kills off everything close to him, but in the end, this story is about the strength/importance of friendship and ethics of science. Akira ends up being the original child psychic that destroyed Tokyo years ago, with nothing left of him but his remains (brain, spinal chord, maybe an arm and a leg?) which have gone through every scientific testing known to man to explain what had happen. The three other children the government had possessed were fellow tests subjects, un-aged, but extremely wrinkled. Akira’s presences still remained and were still all-powerful, but unlike the manga they did not destroy the city and rule, but instead went into another dimension of some sort. The problem with this movie was that there were too many topics thrown in together in too short of a time. While the manga continued far beyond the movie (which had been made before the manga ended), the movie ended abruptly and felt incomplete. Regardless, this film is still a powerful classic that makes you think, much like its other “cyberpunk” descendants- Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiment Lain, etc.



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