Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Cast (English dub): Johnny Yong Bosch, Wendee Lee, Joshua Seth
I saw the original English version of Akira once in middle school. I somehow managed to forget nearly all of it. Now I got my hands on the 2001 DVD, with new English dubbing and extensive restoration.
When motorcycle gang member Tetsuo becomes part of a secret goernment program called Akira, his gang leader and friend Kaneda works to rescue him. In a future Neo-Tokyo full of student protests, greedy politicians, and military obsession, Tetsuo develops a supernatural power that builds to an explosive conclusion.
Oh, and by the way, this is the best anime film ever made.
Without the benefit of modern computer graphics, Akira manages to invoke incredible visuals as Tetsuo is transformed by his power. Buildings crumble, people die, meyhem ensues. I especially love the first few scenes after Tetsuo is awakened by the Espers' stuffed animal forms. The spherical "personal force field" that crumbles walls is an effect I've always liked, and it was well-executed here.
The story is complex and engaging. Questions are left unanswered for the viewer to figure out, and the issues are often only hinted at. The only negative is one that generally can't be helped: the voice dubbing. The acting was over-the-top in places, putting it mildly, but I know that such things are often neccessary to get the lip synchronization anywhere close.
I would definitely recommend Akira as an introduction to anime for the uninitiated. It's got the widespread distruction, the gore, the science fiction plot, the future Japan. I'm not an anime nut, but there are a handful of anime films that I truly enjoy, and this is one of them.
entertainment, movies, reviews