Back in March, filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra stated that no progress has been made on the development of a live-action version of ‘Akira.’ While this may be for better or worse, you can see the impact of ‘Akira’ in recent sci-fi movies including ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Lucy.’ The 1988 anime is today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where we look at science fiction classics.
Katsuhiro Otomo directed ‘Akira’ based on his widely popular manga. The story takes place in 2019 in the dystopian city of Neo-Tokyo. A teenager named Kaneda leads his gang into a brawl with a rival gang when his friend Tetsuo almost crashes his motorcycle into Takashi – a boy with physic powers who escapes an underground government laboratory. After the crash, soldiers take Takashi away and Tetsuo is taken to the hospital. While at the hospital, a military official and doctor discover that Tetsuo has strong psychic abilities that resemble Akira’s. Akira was the physic that caused the destruction of Tokyo back in 1988.
Tetsuo becomes more powerful and goes on a rampage despite attempts to thwart him by Takashi and two other psychics. Kaneda teams up with a young woman named Kei and a group of rebels to go after Tetsuo. However, Tetsuo learns that Akira’s remains are being cryonically preserved and goes after them to become even more powerful.
‘Akira’ is regarded as one the best animated science fiction movies. It’s energized and visually stimulating on top of being a heartbreaking story about friendship.
As far as dystopian stories go, watching ‘Akira’ was actually pretty refreshing after an influx of movies like ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Divergent’. Here we have teens living in a dystopia that are just normal, average teens – kids who screw around and oftentimes disrespect authority. They aren’t these prodigious, straight-laced individuals who are at the top of their “class” (or “faction” or whatever haphazard structure their society has formed.) They’re just regular adolescents who get caught up in something catastrophic. In it, they learn their strength and mature into heroes or monsters.