Praised by critics from around the world and held high as "the" landmark film of Japanese animation. Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 animated classic "Akira" is nothing short of a masterpiece. Featuring cuttingedge cel-animation that will take your breath away and an emotionally driven music score composed mainly of traditional Japanese instruments, this film is a must watch for not only fans of Japanese anime, but anyone who can appreciate a well constructed film. Based on the manga of the same name, which was written and hand drawn with over 2,000 pages by Otomo himself. The story takes place in 2019AD, 31 years after WWIII, which was ignited by a mysterious explosion that set off a chain of events leading up to the war. The setting is Tokyo (now known as Neo-Tokyo) a dystopian wasteland teetering on the scales between order and chaos. Riots break out, drugs are available around every corner, and biker gangs run wild in the streets. Yeah, this film is not kid friendly at all. The story centers around two childhood friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo, now members of a biker gang lead by Kaneda, that stumble across a top-secret military operation that has been hidden for over three decades while out fighting a rival gang. A secret buried in a vault under the rumble of Tokyo. A secret to unlocks the powers of the universe. A secret known only as ..."Akira". I can't really say too much else without spoiling it for you, but it's a surreal mindtrip from start to finish involving a complex action packed story that may (and probably will) require multiple viewings. It teaches a valuable lesson about friendship, greed, corruption and the devastating consequences of absolute power when handled carelessly. Everything about this anime is beautifully detailed, from the glittering of the city lights, to the wind blowing through the trees, from the heaps of garbage burning on the streets, to the teargas rounds flying through the air. Even the sound effects are amazing. The city traffic honking as biker gangs race down the streets, the shouting protesters, the gunfire and explosions are equally impressive as the music score itself. The American voice acting redub, though very good, can be a little over the top at times. But in my opinion it sounds better in Japanese because they recorded the voice acting first, then synced the animation of the lip movements up with the words. That alone should tell you how much heart and soul went into making this anime. It does differ quite a bit from the manga, but trying to fit over 2,000 pages full of art and dialogue into a two hour movie would prove to be an impossible task. So the anime connects the beginning with the end and leaves out a lot of the middle. But both are well crafted works of art and both can easily stand for themselves. I could go on all day talking about the film, so I'll wrap it up by saying that out of the 350+ plus films I own, this is the one I recommend the most. And sadly, not too many people I've talked to have even heard of it or are even willing to give it a chance. But it really is their loss because it's not just a really good anime from 1988, it truly is a landmark film that has stood the test of time and pushed the limits of what an animation is capable of. It's treasure for both sight and sound that you will never forget.