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For those unfamiliar with Akira, to put it simply, it is the film that introduced the Western world to Japanese animation. Written and directed by Otomo, who had already enjoyed notable success as the author of the manga on which the film is based, Akira exploded onto US screens a year after its debut in Tokyo and changed the game entirely. It proved that animation could be adult, gruesome, explicit battling complex notions of existentialism, dystopia and violence via beautiful, hand-drawn frames. It showed that, despite Disneys success in childrens animation, the medium had the potential to achieve higher levels of depth and artistic merit than anything seen before in the mainstream. It revealed that animation existed outside of Hollywood and that it was bursting with endless possibility.
The narrative follows Kaneda, the boisterous leader of the Capsule Gang, who is informed that their rivals, the Clown Gang, have been seen around the city. Enlisting Tetsuo, Kanedas childhood friend, who struggles with a brimming superiority complex, and the rest of the crew, the bikers race through the streets in search of the rival gang.
Kanye West’s “Stronger” official music video.
Kanye West tweeting his love for Akira.
Kanye West on the set of “Stronger” music video with a custom life size replica Akira motorcycle.
Sketch of the iconic Akira red jacket.
Promotional Campaign of Akira in New York, 1990
Promotional Campaign of Akira in New York, 1990
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
This is a much more lighthearted reference to Akira than earlier examples. Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a story about two young friends who get trapped in a journey that takes them to bizarre fantasy and sci-fi worlds that seem built on one of the characters interests in otaku culture. In one of these worlds, they see a collection of science fiction figurines and toys. Among them is Tetsuos head. This is a pretty fun and cute reference to Akira and also an acknowledgment of the film as being essential to science fiction anime.
Kaori Dies Differently In The Manga
Kaori and Tetsuos relationship in the manga was really dark, especially the way she gets killed. When she learns that someone plans on betraying Tetsuo, Kaori runs to warn him but ends up getting shot by that person. Once Tetsuo finds out about her death, he kills everyone who conspired against him. He even went to great lengths to revive her with his psychic abilities, but it just never worked.
Instead, Tetsuo just stores her body inside Akiras cryogenic chamber. In the anime, we just see Kaori getting crushed by Tetsuos transformation and dies in the aftermath. The death we got in the manga was more tragic than what we saw in the film.
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Tetsuo Isnt As Sympathetic
In both the anime and manga, Tetsuo was portrayed as the weakest of the group. He wasnt particularly bright or a strong fighter, which made people push him around most of the time. Once he received his psychic abilities, thats when he used his powers to finally get the respect he thinks he deserves.
In the manga, Tetsuo willingly gives into the immersive power conversely, in the anime, it is explained why someone weak-minded like Tetsuo would turn evil. Tetsuos relationship with Kaori was more toxic than how the anime displayed it, showing just how sadistic he was in the original source material. This was a version we never got to see, which made Tatsuo more of a tragic villain than what was shown in the manga.
Amazing Times Akira Was Referenced By Other Anime
Akira was one of the great anime films of its time, and it continues to influence anime today. These are just a few examples.
Akira is one of the most influential anime of all time. After more than 30 years, the movie still holds up as a bastion of storytelling and incredible animation, and there are a lot of things in pop culture that wouldnt exist if Akira hadnt existed first.
More than in any other space, anime has been most affected by Akira, and it shows in subtle ways in many of the anime we watch today. But there are also specific references to Akira in several of our favorite animated series. Here are 10 references to Akira that we found in other series.
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Gruesome Committed And Visionary: How Akira Shattered Convention To Ignite A Global Passion For Anime
Along its mission to engage the many talents from its global network, One Block Downs is proud to announce its latest partnership with digital magazine Sabukaru. Based in Tokyo, Japan, the ever-evolving platform is connecting our audience to new subcultures and movements from across the globe.
December 25, 1989, the day anime ventured West. With a limited release of Katsuhiro Otomos seminal masterpiece in the United States, grossing approximately $1 million in its initial run, and taking in over $50 million at the global box office, Akira ignited a passion so fervent that the world of anime and pop culture would never be the same again.
Akira Toriyamas Manga Theater
A sweeping glance across Toriyamas library of works reveals an eerie recurrence of the word dragon. From Dragon Ball to Blue Dragon via Dragon Quest, Toriyama is synonymous with this word. But, as Dr. Slump proves, theres a lot more to this genius mangaka than that. And if you really want to see the full scope of Toriyamas work, there are three collections which fully showcase his breadth of narrative talents: Akira Toriyamas Manga Theater.
Collected in three separate volumes, these are anthology books of mostly self-contained stories, some of which even saw anime movie adaptations, which all originally appeared in various magazine publications. These are stories of science fiction, police detectives, martial artists, and more, each one uniquely Toriyama but also far removed from the serials he is best known for.
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Years Of Akira Teenage Kicks Anime
How manga master Katsuhiro Otomo imagined a dystopian 2019 with inspiration from the biker gangs that rode riot through 1980s Japan.
When Akira was released in 1988 it sent shockwaves through the film world both in Japan and in the west. Audiences hadnt seen anything quite like it before. Along with William Gibsons novel Neuromancer and Ridley Scotts Blade Runner , this animated sci-fi classic remains a vital cornerstone of the cyberpunk genre. As Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell argue in their book Anime, it was a major catalyst for the wests ongoing obsession with cool Japan.
Part of the coolness of Akira lays in its depiction of male teenage rebellion, which while it has parallels in western cinema belongs in its own, distinct universe.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, and based on his manga comic of the same name, Akira takes place in 2019 in a dystopian Tokyo thats risen from the ashes of World War III. We meet a biker gang of rebellious teenagers, or bosozoku, led by Shotaro Kaneda. When Kanedas gang, The Capsules, clash with their rivals, The Clowns, they accidentally uncover a government experiment that drags Kanedas friend Tetsuo into a government conspiracy that threatens to once again destroy the city.
The Wild One
This is because their honour code demands it. For all his teasing and bullying, Kaneda is not just Tetsuos leader but also his protector and friend. He must protect him even if that means killing him.
Dont Forget The Comics And The Video Games
Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyens 2015 sci-fi comic series Descender the best sci-fi to find itself drawn out with pencil and ink within the modern age might revolve around robots and not telekinetic delinquents, but it owes much of its soul to Akira. Then theres the futuristic motorbike racing in Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarrs Motor Crush, an obvious nod to protagonist Kanedas superbike .
Then theres the unofficial The Simpsons/Akira hybrid, Bartkira, helmed by cartoonist James Harvey. If youre wondering, Bart is Kaneda, Milhouse is Tetsuo, and brilliantly Ralph Wiggum is Akira himself.
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What That ‘akira’ Anime Reference On ‘rick And Morty’ Really Means
“Edge of Tomorty” is more like this classic anime than the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie.
We all knew that some kind of âAkira-type situationâ was coming to Rick and Morty after a clip from the Season 4 trailer revealed a scene behind the mall where Morty beats up some bullies with advanced gadgets, but it wasnât until the Season 4 premiere aired Sunday night that any of us came to appreciate the real scope of how much Episode 1, âEdge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat,â pays homage to the beloved 1988 anime film Akira.
If youâve come looking for answers to all your Akira-related Rick and Morty questions, youâre in the right place.
Years after a singularity destroys Tokyo in the world of Akira, the society of Neo-Tokyo is plagued by gang warfare and terrorism, and itâs on the verge of collapse when a young gang member by the name of Tetsuo experiences visions of the future and develops supernatural psychic powers. He becomes an unstable egomaniac, eventually going on a rampage through the city fighting gang members, the military, and anyone who stands in his way. As his powers grow outside of his control, he mutates into a horrifying blob that consumes all matter and threatens the entire world.
If youâve already seen the Rick and Morty Season 4 premiere, you can see just how many similarities there are, to the extent that the story resembles Akira more than it does Edge of Tomorrow.
âEdge of Tomortyâ even directly references Akira several times.
It Opened Up Japan To The West
Its hard to imagine a world where there wasnt a Wagamama always within walking distance quite how we existed without their sublime Yasai Katsu Curry is beyond me but this wasnt always so. In 1987, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were offered the chance to bring Akira to Western audiences. They turned it down, saying it wouldnt appeal.
And yet it wasnt Hello Kitty that turned us all on to the Japanese culture now ubiquitous within the West. It wasnt Gundam. Or Tamagotchi. Or Dragon Ball Z. Or Pokémon. Or even the colossal Godzilla. It was Akira. Without it, anime or manga might never have made its way to the UK.
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Why The Pioneering Japanese Anime Akira Is Still Relevant 30 Years Later
Were protesting in the streets, bracing for the next violent attack and debating how civil to be in confronting a government some say is wildly overreaching.
Theres a reason a Japanese animated film from 30 years ago still has resonance in America today.
Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave the clearance for niche pop culture properties to enter the mainstream, Katsuhiro Otomos Akira served as an entry point for Westerners into the world of Japanese animation. The frenetic cyberpunk anime, released in Japan on July 15, 1988, showed that cartoons across cultures could address larger social issues. Its intricate, futuristic cityscapes and its evocative tale of telepathic power inspired a generation of works to come, including a Kanye West music video and Stranger Things.
In Stranger Things, Eleven is a child who, similarly, escapes from a government facility and learns that she possesses supernatural powers. In a 2016 interview, the Duffer brothers said the influence of Akira was obviously a big one on their Netflix show.
I think it announced to the American public a kind of potential for this medium, which generated a lot of excitement and has played out in the last 30 years as this kind of anime boom, Bolton said.
Its going to require someone to treat anime with the same hardcore, nerdcore love and respect and honor and protection the way we treat the Marvel and DC Comics, Thomas said.
It Changed Animation As We Knew It
One of the most impressive facts about Akira is that its animation was so ahead of its time that 50 unique colors were created out of the 327 that were used a record, by the way just for its production. Most of the film takes place at night or in dark settings and called for the use of 2,212 shots and 160,000 single pictures, which is more than double the usual amount of animated films of that length.
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Akira: 10 Things The Anime Regrettably Missed From The Manga
1988’s Akira is rightfully hailed as an anime classic, but the cyberpunk masterpiece left out quite a few important things from Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga.
Akira has been highly respected as one of the greatest anime films of all time while also introducing audiences to the cyberpunk genre in an apocalyptic setting. The film was a landmark for Japanese animation and was one of the first movies to strike an impact on the West, introducing a worldwide audience to the world of anime.
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While visually captivating, the movie didnt showcase the mangas full potential. What audiences got were parts of a larger story, cutting much of the manga out of the film. We take a look at what the anime film didnt put from the manga that wouldve given the story more scope.
The Espers’ Origins Were Shown In The Manga
The psychic children from Akira played a very important role in the film. In the film, the government has been experimenting with the kids, which brought forth their telekinetic powers. Readers get a better understanding of these children in the manga, which delves into their terrible back-story and what led to the destruction of Tokyo as well as the start of World War III.
More information is provided about Akira as well as the other four test subjects. With Tetsuo being subject 41, there may have been 35 others who were also experimented, something the film never addresses.
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Lady Miyako Is A Fascinating Character
One of the most important characters in the manga had such a small role in the film was Lady Miyako. She only had one short scene in the film acting as a spiritual fanatic. However, the manga actually gave her an important role where she helped Kei and Kaneda in their pursuit to stop Tetsuo.
Its revealed that Miyako was a former test subject who had the ability to read minds. After the second explosion in Neo-Tokyo, she sheltered survivors inside her temple and tragically sacrificed herself in the final showdown against Tetsuo. Miyako had such a great arc that unfortunately wasnt fully explored in the anime.
Akira Review Apocalyptic Anime’s Startling Message Of Global Annihilation
The landmark Japanese cyberpunk animation from 1988 re-emerges as a deeply strange nightmare about destruction and rebirth
A deeply strange message from the future is what this movie is here to deliver: both post- and pre-apocalyptic, a nuclear-age parable of anxiety to compare with Godzilla. Akira, released in 1988, is the cult Japanese cyberpunk animation from director Katsuhiro Ôtomo, who also created the original manga serial.
Thirty years on from a devastating explosion that razed the city, a new capital Neo-Tokyo has been born: sprawling, chaotic, like the LA of Blade Runner. The city is beset with violence from warring motorbike gangs, and by protesters rioting against unfair taxes. A hatchet-faced army officer says that Neo-Tokyo is a garbage heap made of hedonistic fools.
Biker teen Kaneda is in the middle of a confrontation with a rival mob, when his friend Tetsuo accidentally crashes into a bizarrely wizened child-goblin figure who has apparently escaped from a top-secret government research facility investigating this race of troll-infants with bizarre powers.
And so the final 30 minutes of the film build to a nightmare of utter destruction longed-for destruction, in fact, an annihilation that will wipe out this culpable, wretched world. Akiras strangeness is very startling and sometimes bewildering. But there is a thanatonic rapture to its vision of a whole world ending and being reborn as something else.
Akira is released in cinemas 7-9 October.
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The Manga Explores Kaneda & Keis Relationship Even Further
We saw some sparks fly between Kaneda and Kei in the film, but we only get to see a flirtatious encounter with them. In the manga, however, the creators got to invest more in their chemistry and turned it into a real relationship. These two characters got to learn about each other while being imprisoned together.
Readers even got to see them share a kiss. Protecting Kei became one of the driving forces for Kaneda to stop Tetsuo’s murderous rampage. Even Kei would do the same for him, so its great to see how those two would do anything to protect one another.
Akira Appeared In The Original Story
With a film named after the powerful psychic child, its weird that we never got to see him at all in the anime. Other than visions, whats left of Akiras remains were stored underground and frozen by the scientists to study his capabilities. In the manga, Tetsuo releases Akira from his underground prison and teams up with him as they both unleash their power, causing destruction all around Neo-Tokyo.
Akira is soon worshipped by the less fortunate and becomes Emperor of the Great Tokyo Empire. He still appears as a child who hasnt aged a day. Even though Akira comes out as a big character in the manga, hes still a mystery like the anime and his existence only provides a highlight of his powerful abilities.
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