Starring: Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Mitsuo Iwata
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Running Time: 124 mins
Akira is a Japanese film about a dystopian future Tokyo where a secret military project turns a teenager into a psychotic telekinetic, and only his former friends and a group of other telekinetics can prevent him from annihilating the entire city.
I’m not a big anime fan, not at all, but I was impressed by how well I ended up feeling about this film despite it being so heavy-going and dramatic at points, which, for someone who’s never really watched any of the cult anime that dominates the internet nowadays, is pretty good.
Let’s start with what is always one of the most impressive things about anime: the animation itself. Here, it’s very well done, and although it’s not at all good-looking as many of the Ghibli films are, that’s completely deliberate, and the excellent animation therefore gives it a very urban, dark look almost identical to that of Blade Runner.
Away from that, the story is also very interesting here. I’ve always found it tough to get over the idea that animated films are more for kids, but having seen films like Persepolis, Chico and Rita etc., I’ve learnt that they can have a real political consciousness, which this shows perfectly.
The first half of this film is all about the politics of this crime-ridden future neo-Tokyo, and although I found it often quite heavy-going and occasionally a little dull, the originality of the political story was actually very interesting to see, and it made for a very unpredictable story as the film and the characters developed.
However, the film does take a turn about halfway through to becoming less of a political drama/thriller and a bit more of an action movie. Now, I thought it was a bit of a shame to lose that more intelligent aspect to the story as it went towards its climax, however I was surprised to find that the action was actually really exciting to watch, largely due to the excellent characterisation prior to this, which meant that everything was tense and you really cared for the people in peril.
The biggest problem that I had with this film in the end, however, was the finale. For a non-anime lover, this is probably pretty typical, but I thought that the ending was excessive, drawn out for far too long, and simply quite pretentious in the direction it took, which ended a film which I had surprisingly found to be very interesting and exciting on a bit of a low note, so that’s why it gets a 7.6 from me.