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Title (English) Akira
Title (Japanese) Akira

book cover

Fantasy Novel

Notes Movie. AKIRA (Manga Video),
124min, cert 15, 12.99
Video),49min, cert 15, 7.99
AKIRA DOUBLE PACK (Manga Video) 124+49m, cert
15, subtitled
Classification -
Review AKIRA is available in dubbed or subtitled form. A
"production report" is included with the subtitled
"Collector's Edition" and can also be bought separately.
AKIRA, originally a graphic series (Manga), by Otomo,
is now one of the best known pieces of modern Japanese
animated film (Anime). The story is set in 2019, in a
Tokyo rebuilt after destruction in World War III. The
city is in a state of social crisis, with unemployment,
terrorism and neo-religions widespread. Young Kaneda
and his friends find an outlet by racing hi- tech
motorcycles and fighting with a rival biker gang, the
Clowns. One of Kaneda's friends, Tetsuo, falls from his
bike and is taken to a secret Army laboratory where he
develops psychic powers. Tetsuo's growing powers lead
to ever more bizarre and destructive events.
The film contains a number of exciting action
sequences, notably the motorcycle chases, striking
nocturnal scenes, and astonishing science-fantasy
sequences. A largish cast of characters, with personalities
we can care about, are developed in some depth. The
flashbacks to childhood are particularly fine. Despite the
presence of some female characters, this remains a male-
oriented film, cool,hi-tech and violent.
The script is adapted from a much longer manga series,
and, with its loosely tied incidents and cryptic ending,
remains the main weakness in the film. Visually, though,
AKIRA is an animation showpiece: all the technical
devices of conventional cinema as well as animation are
employed in the film; pans, zooms, travelling shots, even
a 180deg. rapid pan shot, giving an effect like an ani-
mated version of live action cinema. Like much anime,
this is a film that repays repeated viewing. The
'Production Report' gives an insight into the huge effort
that went into making AKIRA. For instance, the
Japanese dialogue was recorded first and the animation
made to fit it; in the dubbed version all this is thrown
The 35mm cinema version shows the animation to best
advantage. The two video versions are not identical, as
the widescreen version displays more of the original
image. Japan buffs will of course prefer the authentic
Japanese dialogue. It's also evident that the two video
versions do not use the same English script.
Unfortunately the subtitles are done in plain white and
rather stupidly placed on the picture instead of in the
handy black strip underneath. Consequently the subtitling
is very hard to read in places. Even fan subtitlers could
have done better. Also, some of the first dubbed copies
were blurred or otherwise defective.
The dramatic action sequences, lavish animation and
fine music soundtrack make AKIRA an anime classic,
and also, since it has characters whom Western young
males will readily identify with, it forms a relatively
accessible introduction to Japanese animation.
Credits dir. Katsuhiro OTOMO
TV Showing See the whole series for free? This series may be syndicated to regional cable, satellite or terrestial TV stations. For Europe click here.
Date 1988
References & Help Look up the latest data on this title at:
Richard Llewellyn's Animated Divots, or
Anime News Network (see Encyclopedia section) ,
or in "The Anime Encyclopedia" (Clements & McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, 2001).
Help & further information.



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