R1 Pubisher: Streamline/Pioneer/Bandai
Animation: TMS Entertainment
Original Release: 7/16/1988
US Release: 1988
What is it
Akira is a cyberpunk film by Katsuhiro Otomo. The film, set in the year 2019, revolves around biker gang member Shotaro Kaneda, who finds himself drawn into an increasingly dire situation after his friend is taken by the government.
Tetsuo, Kaneda’s friend, is taken after the gang is involved a fierce battle with rival gang The Clowns. As the peak of the battle, as the fighting is as its fiercest, Tetsuo nearly hits a shriveled, aged-looking child. His bike mysteriously explodes, and both Tetsuo and the boy are taken to a military hospital. As Kaneda deals with the local law enforcement, Tetsuo is forced to undergo harsh experimentation.
The situation continues to escalate, as Tetsuo is found to have similar mental frequencies to Akira – a lad whose psychic abilities obliterated Tokyo decades earlier. Kaneda is pulled into the world of Kei, a member of a local terrorist group, and Tetsuo grows more powerful, and more insane. Tetsuo begins to seek justice upon the world that wronged him by unleashing Akira’s remains, and plunging the world into ruin once again. The only one who can stop Tetsuo now is Kaneda – however, it is difficult to say whether he would be able to kill his best friend to save the world.
Why is is Important?
Since its release, Akira has influenced a large amount of art in the anime world. Many illustrators and animators in the industry refer to the film as a powerful influence.
In America, the film played a large part in kicking off post-Robotech anime fandom.
Any Interesting Stories?
Akira received a laserdisc release by Criterion in 1988. The disc cost $59.98, was presented in letterboxed widescreen, and spanned two discs. (3 sides)
The film’s unique animation style, in which character mouth movements were matched to character voices, still has yet to be properly recreated in an anime feature.
Akira’s budget was a record at the time, at $10 million. The film consists of 2,212 shots, and 160,000 individual cels. The film’s cels used 327 colors of paint, 50 of which were made specifically for the feature.
US Theatrical Trailer