Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#440: Akira (1988)

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Cast (English Voices): Johnny Yong Bosch, Joshua Seth & Wendee Lee

Akira is considered the quintessential anime film, reinvigorating the genre in the late ‘80s which led to the cult following the style holds today. Based on the first six volumes of the popular manga of the same title, Akira visualizes a post-WWIII Tokyo. Chaos fills the streets with motorcycle gangs and terrorist attacks wreaking havoc. When Tetsuo, a member of the motorcycle gang called ‘The Capsules’, almost hits an eerie looking child with his bike, his world turns upside down. The government takes him to a hospital where they find that his brainwaves are similar to Akira, a boy who has been accused of causing WWIII.

The animation for this film is phenomenal. The cityscapes are horrific yet ornate. The buildings in a post-nuclear holocaust setting are frightfully realistic, and the social disorder believable. The film is also acknowledged as the first anime to feature lip-synched dialogue, allowing the style to progress into something more fluid and more appealing to the eye.

There are some beautiful scenes throughout the film – most notably a scene in which Tetsuo is hallucinating in his hospital room. Unfortunately, the plot is a bit convoluted. Akira was an enormous project, attempting to fit almost 2,200 pages of manga into a 2-hour film. I had many, many questions coming out of the film. Thankfully the IMDB message board sorted me out. I urge anyone else who has seen the film to look up the answers to their questions, because really… the movie on its own doesn’t quite do it. Still enjoyable, though!

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • At one point in the 1990s, Sony contemplated a live-action version of the film, but scrapped the idea when the projected budget went north of US$300 million.
  • The production budget was nearly $10 Million US Dollars, a record sum in Japanese animation film.
  • The movie consists of 2,212 shots and 160,000 single pictures, 2-3 times more than usual, using 327 different colors (another record in animation film), 50 of which were exclusively created for the film. The reason for this statistic is that most of the movie takes place at night, a setting that is traditionally avoided by animators because of the increased color requirements.

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