What I was Doing at the Time: I don’t remember much from when I was four. I was probably just being anti-social towards the other kids while being completely unaware of the pain that awaited in the land of kindergarten.
First Watched: July 2001
DVD Purchased: July 2001 at a Suncoast store at a mall. How foolish I was back then. Paying to pre-order something that was never in danger of running out of stock. Overpaying for it because I had a membership card which had crap benefits.
My Thoughts: Akira seems like one of those works that was heralded as a masterpiece of animation at the time, but with newer fans it ends up being nothing special. The cult of hatred of many shows has been well covered before, and to some extent it is somewhat similar here. Mainstream material happens to attract some level of dislike, some of it warranted, and there’s not much more mainstream than Akira.
With a live-action remake with Leonardo DiCaprio listed as one of the producers, heavily-inspiring the video for Kanye West’s single “Stronger” and a positive reception amongst Western critics, there’s no doubt about the film’s transition into the mainstream over time.
Interestingly enough, the film also glimpses into the future in Olympic bidding. In the film, Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, and is building their Olympic stadium in an abandoned part of the city to revitalize an increasingly lost culture. The 2012 London Olympics are being used to revitalize east London. Continuing on this little Olympic bidding theme, Tokyo is currently a finalist for the 2016 Summer edition going up against Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Chicago for the rights to host the event.
Now to the film itself, set 20 years after an apparent nuclear attack on Tokyo, society seems to be at war with itself in a near-apocalyptic way. The Tokyo of the time is a hedonistic, virtually lawless area with no real sense of order. Perhaps this is a reflection of post-Plaza Accord society that made 80s high-budget works like this possible.
Other themes include delinquency, Tetsuo’s foray as a Nietschean superman with typical results and social unrest with an unpopular government. This seems ridiculously adventurous for present day anime standards, that might actually be the long term appeal of it.
So in Akira, we basically have a partial vision of the future that has had influence far beyond almost anything anime has produced. Maybe it no longer fits in with the culture is emerged from.
Next Time in Part 3: An OVA, children in war, a VA who would go on to dominate the a decade, and the first mechs in this little feature