Tuesday, April 16, 2013

780. AKIRA (1988)

Running Time: 124 minutes
Directed By: Katsuhiro Otomo
Written By: Katsuhiro Otomo, Izo Hashimoto
Main Cast: (voices): Johnny Yong Bosch, Joshua Seth, Wendee Lee, James Lyon, Simon Isaacson
Click here to view the trailer


"Akira" had been sitting near the top of my Netflix queue for months, on a "Very Long Wait", until the other day, when it apparently became available and was shipped to me. Truth be told, I could've gone on waiting forever before I saw this travesty.

The film takes place in the year 2019, thirty-one years after World War III and the destruction of Tokyo. Now, in 2019, Neo-Tokyo is a booming city, but filled with crime and criminals, including several biker gangs. One of the biker gangs and our main characters, is led by Kaneda and he is followed by Tetsuo Shima. The film opens with a pretty well choreographed/animated biker gang fight, between Kaneda's gang and The Clowns, a rival gang. Later, once we're introduced to the characters and the setting of the city, we get into the thick of things, when a young boy is captured in Neo-Tokyo. The boy is Takashi and he possesses powerful psychic abilities and his captors are the government agency that did experimental testing on him and made him what he is. In the confusion of recapturing Takashi, Tetsuo is injured and is also captured by the government agency. For a while, Kaneda and fellow gangsters just assume that he's been taken to a hospital, but later learn that he's been captured by the agency and that they plan to do testing on Tetsuo as well. The testing leaves Tetsuo with even greater power than that of Takashi and actually powers that rival those of Akira's, the most powerful entity the agency has ever created and the reason for the destruction of Tokyo, so many years ago. When Tetsuo escapes his captors, a red alert is issued, as he and his powers reign over the city and Kaneda tries to get his friend back...

...at least I think that's what happened, but who really knows. I've got to be completely honest with you here, I pretty much checked out of this one at around the 45 minute - 1 hour mark, when I realized that this was repelling me 10x worse than Roberto Rossellini and his heavy-handed neorealism.  At that mark (45 minute - 1 hour) I fully realized that this was the exact opposite of what my cinematic palate desired and then I was just going through the motions; picking up what I could, trying my best to follow along and make it to THE END. Therefore, "Akira" was, without a doubt, ONE OF the worst experiences THE BOOK has put me through and what a shame that I've been saying that (or something like that) a lot lately, especially during a season that started out so promising. Why didn't I like "Akira"? Plain and simply, because it was everything I try to avoid in films. Let's back track a bit actually and I'll tell you that I was actually really looking forward to "Akira", because the idea of an animated feature geared toward adults appealed to me. I was ready to be blown away by the animators from Japan and ready to shower "Akira" with praise. The problem was that I just really didn't know what it was all about and once I realized that I was dealing with some serious science fiction, I did a complete 180 and was fully and utterly repelled. There are very few sci-fi movies that I can stand and even then there has to be other elements in play. Take "District 9" for instance, a science-fiction picture, that implements elements of survival and a love story...a success in my book. "Akira" was, however, a total failure: heavy sci-fi, government agencies, terrorism, mutating beings, robots, giant talking teddy bears...is not, in my opinion, what a good film makes.

I will give it points for being successful in the animation department, as I enjoyed that element. I will also give it points because, believe it or not, I can fully understand why THE BOOK included it. Obviously this was a big step in the field of Japanese anime and I am fully aware that there IS an audience for this kind of story and God bless you if you enjoy this, because you're far more tolerant than I. I am fully aware that THE BOOK wasn't tailor made to fit my personal tastes and obviously (as I know well by now) there are going to come films that completely revolt and repel me and that's okay. It only serves to add to my growing knowledge of all aspects of cinema. I'm happy that THE BOOK forced me to sit through "Akira" because, if nothing else, I can at least say that I've seen it and in the bigger picture, can say I've seen an anime film. It just wasn't for me in the slightest.

RATING: 2/10  A few points, but a '1' didn't seem fair and a '2.5' seemed too high, considering how much I hated every minute of this movie.


April 16, 2013  9:54pm


  1. Not much chance of me didagreeing with your comments on this one. Well, perhaps that '2' is too high.
    In my case I believed it was because I was too old to relish teenagers with attitude!

    1. Yeah, definitely in the "not for me" column, for sure.


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