So I finally saw Akira. It’s quite a strange, cool, trippy sci-fi movie.
It cleverly tackles subjects like the corruption of power and the nature of the universe and evolution effortlessly, while throwing up colourful and lasting images and characters. The animation is sublime and looked great with its bluray makeover, the voice-acting is passionate and the score is weirdly and unsettlingly experimental in a way that perfectly compliments the mad visuals.
The setting of New Tokyo, built from the ashes of World War III, is beautifully realised and conveys a heavy sense of dread, that probably rang even truer for this film’s post-cold war release. The Han Solo of the piece, Kaneda, has more than enough charm and cool and is the perfect foil to the maligned Tetsuo, whose fall from grace is charted roughly a million times better in two hours than, say, Anakin Skywalker’s six-hour long laugh-fest of a fall.
Part of the reason for Akira’s lasting appeal must be its memorable moments and imagery. I may have just seen it, but already the opening bike chase is etched into my memory, along with those creepy mutant kids, that terrifying lullaby from Tetsuo’s induced nightmare and the freaky image of Tetsuo slowly transforming into some giant, gelatinous gloop.
I wouldn’t be as averse to a live-action US remake of Akira as a lot of fans seem to be. If the right people got ahold of this material, I’m sure something cool can be done with it. But judging from the current production, it’s going to be butchered. Kristen Stewart as Kei? Christ. But it seems like production has been stalled for now, so that might be a blessing.
What I liked most about Akira and what is part of the appeal of Asian cinema for me is that it’s just so different and off the wall from what western cinema has to offer. Formula and the expected more often than not take precedence in mainstream western cinema, and if there is formula in Akira, it’s not one I’m used to.
So… ya. A very cool movie.
Finally, if I had been taking a drink for every time Kaneda and Tetsuo shouted each other’s names, I would be dead now.
Someone has kindly cut every single one together on Youtube for our enjoyment: