Akira has been coming up in my life since I first started watching animes (which to be completely honest is somewhere in my childhood past, I remember being obsessed with Princess Mononoke at the age of 5). Again and again people have been praising it and it all went in one ear and right out the other, the whole time vaguely remembering it’s on my anime ‘to watch’ list.
Now that I am in uni, I am obviously much more inclined to actually look into what people tell me (especially tutors) so when I finally saw Akira it was everything I had expected and beyond… far beyond.
Considering the film was made in ’88, I was surprised at some of the deeper existential topics explored within it and the strikingly contemporary view on the matters. The idea of power (what power can do to people, how we handle it, and not only metaphorically – the deeper, psychic power which unleashes the uncovering of secrets of the universe and inevitably leads to God; the psionics who show an incredible range of skills and abilities as well as a connection to each other which very well explores a completely different type of communication and a higher form of being in the world, all due to a secret military project, which brings those abilities forth; which leads us to the idea of AKIRA, the experiment gone wrong… and yet Akira is a deity, worshipped by the people, feared, buried and tabooed by the scientists and a spiritual leader to all the psionics. The answer to who Akira really is, what he/she is capable of and what happened to him/her becomes a main issue in the film both for the characters as well as the viewers – much like the real questions about life and about God.
It is not very often that a film can make the unreal sci-fi/fantasy bits seem fathomable yet here this animation is, showing you an incredibly well calculated and simulated view of the human psyche – depicted through the main characters – the two best friends whose friendship completely changes once one of them unlocks his psychic abilities (the idea of a sudden change in the direction of the wind, the butterfly effect if you will, which may cause the most serious of consequences) , the tireless chase after a love interest, despite the world being on the verge of crumbling (the idea of how much ‘love’ can alter our actions), the idea of wisdom and the respect for knowledge (represented through the psychic children, wrinkled and silver-haired, emphasise the youth/age paradox.
Something else which caught my attention was the sense of scale and immensity. The power which one of the characters manages to unleash is so well presented that at times I was literally trembling with adrenaline, staring wide-eyed in utter awe at the screen, unable to believe it because it was that good.
These are some of the beauties of Akira that impressed me personally as some of them perfectly fit with scientific/religious/esoteric views on life I’ve been looking into. AND don’t even get me started on the animation itself. What I will say for now is that anyone who hasn’t seen or read Akira definitely should, and those who have, need no explaining.