I was really struggling in the first 15-20 minutes of this movie because I could not follow who was who, and what they were doing, or why they were doing it. So many characters are thrown at you with no background or explanation. However, there was a point when I started to say..."wait, I think I might understand some of the things going on now!"
The second act is where I was totally on board. The sci-fi super-power element of the plot had me intrigued. I was worried about Tetsuo, and was fascinated to see what would happen next. Sadly, the third act kind of lost me again. There's some good stuff going on in the climax, but then there's a lot of other stuff that makes no sense to me. I needed someone to just explain what was happening and why but the movie wouldn't offer that to me.
In a weird way Akira felt like watching a sequel without seeing the original movie. There was so much backstory that I wanted but this movie glossed over it as if I should already know all of it. I could see that Akira is probably a film that rewards repeat viewing so you could dig into it. The style is just one that I don't particularly love, so I doubt it's something I would personally explore further. I can see where people would be passionate about Akira because it is one of the best Manga/Anime films I've watched.
Stunning in every sense.
If only I could give it more stars...
At the verge of the XXXII Olympic Games, Tokyo has been replaced with Neo Tokyo and its filled with anti government terrorism and gang violence. With society as fucked up as it is, many religious leaders predict the arrival of a violent savior called Akira. On an standard night a young biker, named Tetsuo, finds himself in a dangerous position with the Tokyo government but little does he know what the future has planed for this boy.
It isn't for nothing that anime has earn a reputation of an exaggerated, melodramatic, cliched and at times gross and perverted, so when an anime receives the level of praise this film achieved it made me want to watch it a few years ago (plus the fact I will watch any acclaimed sci-fi film) and I got to say Katsuhiro Otomo's work is quite something. "Akira" has beautiful animation that hasn't aged a day, striking visuals, an atmosphere is a mixture of "Blade Runner" and "A Clockwork Orange" with a little Orwellian vibe and the standard anime formula, it uses a high level of violence effectively for setting a mood (it's not just there to be shocking or tasteless), an insane and trippy story that starts with promise but it ultimately gets far up its own ass, the character designs are distinct (which is not as usual in the medium as it is required) and cool looking, the action sequences are what you would expect from anime but the combination of guns blazing and supernatural powers is quite unique (I haven't seen anime fights quite unique and intense since I saw "Cowboy Bebop", which I know came latter), it's world is so creative and out there that I find it extremely fascinating to watch, the character relationships are believable (I can see where the Naruto and Sasuke bromance came from) and it is overall quite fun to watch. But sadly this impressive and gorgeous film has numerous issues. The characters lack personality as they are just stereotypes, the story is a little hard to follow at times, the dialog is at times groan inducing (not surprising for Japanese animation), the standard anime comedy is so dumb and awkward, Tetsuo is the worst written character I have seen in a while, the third act goes on too long, and the last 15 minutes go to Psychomagic bullshit territory (not surprising considering Otomo made that ending after meeting Jodorowsky) but what's funny is that it tries to come off as "2001" (when I was 14 I though it was a mind blowing finale but it really is a tacked on addition). Furthermore it needs to be said that you need to like anime or even know about it as it follows the standard formula of the medium which you may go with or you won't (the world is bizarre and they don't try to give sense to it, the action is composed by massive explosions, technology is shown as destructive but also as miraculous, the characters are as over the top as the setting, the soap opera writing and the awkward comedy).
"Akira" is one undeniably the most influential anime film ever made (it is debatable whether it is the best but no other film has achieved the same impact as Otomo's work, not even Miyazaki) as it is creative, unique, gorgeous, mesmerizing, mostly solidly written and extremely fun to watch. If you can go with anime logic then you will enjoy this film but if you can't or prefer kid friendly anime like Pokemon then I recommend to stay away from it. It is not for everyone and has major flaws but it still is powerful and highly entertaining.