AKIRA (1988 film)
Based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga. Directed by Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto with studio TMS Entertainment.
Technically, this was the first anime I watched; my uncle played it for me when I was around 7-years-old, and it scared the shit out of me. I’ve viewed it more times than I can count and it’s still an incredible film that holds up today.
AKIRA is a dystopian sci-fi set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, a city simultaneously rebuilding and falling apart after WWIII. It follows Kaneda, a high school dropout and leader of a motorcycle gang; and his friend Tetsuo who acquires telekinetic powers after the military performs tests on him.
The film is complex, gritty, violent and gorgeous. The trailing tail lights and explosions during the opening motorcycle chase, look spectacular thanks to the 160,000+ animation cells used to create the film’s super-fluid motion. The fully realised, futuristic urban landscapes are painted with incredible detail, you can tell the ¥1.1 billion budget was put to good use. AKIRA has had a lasting effect on the industry and pop culture, many famous scenes have been parodied in everything from music videos to South Park.
I suggest watching the film, then read the manga. If you don’t fully understand all the psychic stuff — you’re not alone. It can take a few viewings to get your head around it, but the manga does a better job of explaining it. While the film can be considered an abridged version of the book, there is a whole lot more to the story that can’t fit in two hours.