Akira (1988)


Pros
  • The film that brought the popularity of anime to the Western world
  • A movie that couldn't be made except in the style of animation which knows no limits
  • The legend of the powerful 'Akira' (I love stories like this about some sort of legendary warrior/person)
  • After the one hour mark we finally see the telekinetic abilities of some characters
  • There is something amazing about knowing certain scenes are hand drawn
  • The detail in the animation is just flat out spectacular, unforgettable
  • The movie really leaves a lasting impression based on the final 20 minutes of the film (quite a bit of interpretation to be found)
  • A very unpredictable movie from start the finish, especially the final moments in the movie
  • Considered by most critics to be one of the greatest animated movies of all time

Cons
  • How did the general public know about Akira?
  • At times the movie feels a bit overstuffed (mostly since it's based on a very long manga)
  • Some of the plot is a bit convoluted, mostly involving the politicians vs the military vs the rebels (I have no idea the motives behind each of the groups)
  • The first hour of the movie before we actually see some of the powers was a bit tedious with the pacing (probably my main issue with the movie)
  • For how much time was given to the rebels, I'm not sure it went anywhere in the end (I think one of the rebels gets a solid conclusion, but it went over my head)
  • You might need to watch the movie twice to fully understand what exactly is going on (something I personally don't have a problem with, but some people might)

Score: 8/10

Based on reputation alone, I expected quite a bit from Akira, and I have to say it mostly lived up to its reputation. I say mostly because I was led to believe this movie had battles similar to Dragonball Z (superpowered characters facing off against one another), but that certainly is not the case here. I guess I was expecting a bit more 1v1 battles between espers (those with psychic abilities), but instead, the movie had a deeper story to tell. Akira is a brash and dark film that takes place in a dystopian future where the government is struggling to keep secret the evolution of mankind. The concept alone was enough to hook me in and using animation was the perfect medium for this type of story to fully flourish.

Everything in the movie was unique to say the least, from an animation standpoint to its bizarre conclusion. If you go into this movie thinking it will be nothing more than action or your typical 'strange' anime, you will be quite surprised at how much detail goes into the story itself. There are a ton of ideas floating around (albeit a bit too many to fully understand most of the time) but the important ones are developed quite nicely. But those larger ideas that they choose to focus on really do thrive thanks to the animation, which as I said, know no bounds except the imagination of its creator. The only downside seemed to be most of what occurs in the first half of the movie seems a tad irrelevant in the end. It was as if the creators were trying to throw in too many ideas from the manga into the movie and it became a bit convoluted. But that is where the whole idea of rewatching the movie comes into play, Akira makes a bit more sense having seen where the story goes in the end. That way, as the movie progresses you can follow what exactly characters mean when talking about past events that occurred which we are given very little detail about.

But the main driving force behind Akira (for me) had to be the idea of unleashing the supremely powerful Akira. Knowing that he was powerful enough to release the energy equivalent of a hydrogen bomb was enough to suck me in for the entire runtime. It was this idea that made the movie interesting if not nerve-wracking because we don't exactly know what kind of a person Akira is, is he good or bad? Will he save the world or choose to destroy? It was this type of trepidation building throughout the entire movie which lead to the final climax of the film that worked for the most part. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting the type of ending the movie had, at first I was disappointed with how everything ended up, but as time went by, I kept thinking more and more about the ending. And eventually came to the conclusion that the ending was justified. It not only leaves the viewer in awe but more importantly, it leaves a very strong lasting impression.

Looking back on the film, the actual storyline of the movie is a bit more interesting to me than what was put on film (possibly meaning the manga would be something I should look into). While I didn't necessarily love the movie like I thought I would, mostly because it seemed to have pacing issues (at least the first hour of the film), the story itself was right up my alley. That being said, I would gladly watch the second half of the movie because that's where the action picks up, the telekinesis starts to appear, the characters start coming together, and the movie dives deep into hardcore science-fiction. Assuming you have no problem with anime and can buy into the idea of telekinesis, Akira is something everyone should see based on the impact it had within the film industry.