Akira: Review

Akira: Review


On Jan. 1, 1988 Katushiro Otomo released his film adaptation of his book series “Akira.” It was a major success bringing in $2.1 million domestically on its first week, thanks to the innovative mind of Otomo and all the money and effort that went into animating this movie. But does the film deserve all the  praise it gets? Does it live up to the original book? Short answer: yes. But how?


What is “Akira”?
What is “Akira”?

Akira is A tale about two teenagers making their way through this post apocalyptic new tokyo, Tetsuo Shima and Mitsuru Kuwata are a part of a biker gang that stumbles across a military project that plans to use telekinetic children as weapons.

Shima is the main antagonist of this film and faces one of these telekinetic kids in a horrific bike crash and gains abilities after leading him to find out about Akira, one of the stronger telekinetic children who has been locked into a spherical prison changing his mind and making him more dangerous. 

On the other side of the spectrum, Kuwata takes the role of the protagonist with a more rebellious twist. He rides around on his bike messing up the city but also takes a stand against Shima when it comes down to it.


During the creation of “Akira,” Otomo drew and colored almost every shot giving the film an authentic feeling, making each frame feel like they each have their own bit of life in them.

The animation was then translated onto a cel, which was painted and photographed against a background all by hand.

The animation for this film was very influential in reconstructing the way that animation was seen, having one of the highest budgets for an animated film at the time coming out to $8.5 million dollars. It took a big influence from the book, having its characters feel like they jumped straight out of the pages by including  every small intricate detail included from Shima’s red cape down to the fold on Kuwata’s glove. 


The bad and the good
The bad and the good

“Akira” is very well made, although it has some flaws. For example this movie can be very confusing at times if you’re not paying full attention, it can feel like not much is explained leaving many people only with the basic idea of the movie.

Does the lack of explanation make this movie bad? That depends on who you ask. Films  are seen differently from everyone and not everyone always wants to take the time to look deeper into a movie and they just want to watch a movie and be able to relax. Others want to immerse themselves and find every little detail that isn’t given straight to you.

Personally I think the small amount of work that you need to put into this film in order to understand every bit of it adds to the movie’s charm and to the overall atmosphere of the movie. 

With that there is also a large amount of good that comes from this film with its large production and multiple perspectives. It has a very thoughtful and authentic feel that can only be found in something that was as cared for as this was.

Multiple scenes from this film have inspired future generations with large celebrities like Kanye West taking  inspiration within his music, going as far to recreate multiple scenes in his music video for “Stronger.”

 Multiple movies have attempted to recreate the film’s iconic bike slide scene with some succeeding, and others just trying their best.

One of the most recent times that it has been recreated was in Jordan Peele’s ”Nope” being a quick blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where one of the characters in the movie is on a bike and does a swift slide in order to get out of danger in a quick and fashionable way. 


Why is “Akira” different from other movies?
Why is “Akira” different from other movies?

There is good reason to wonder what makes “Akira” so different from everything else like it.

Akira came out during a time when animation was at a high with multiple companies like Studio Ghibli and Disney releasing high class films that would rack up high amounts of money at the box office each time, but none of them had the same spirit that “Akir”a did. 

The idea that “Akira” puts forward of a world that has suffered a horrible nuclear war that left the world divided was and still is a very serious and real threat that most people fear. This just makes the film’s decision to center this movie around that more impactful. 


Final rating
Final rating

“Akira” is a beautiful film that takes inspiration from multiple genres in order to make a well crafted and masterful piece that lives on 36 years later. With its meaningful message and hand made art style it continues to find more meaning and have something new for each watch through making it worth it each time

I give  “Akra” an 8/10; it’s a good story, but a complicated set up.


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About the Contributor
Derek Lee Rodriguez, staff writer
Derek Rodriguez is a sophomore in his first year of journalism. Derek is the student director for the play and in his free time he enjoys watching movies,playing dnd,and watching his favorite show community. Derek has been described by people as charismatic,friendly,and stoic at times. Derek can be spotted around school with his film and comic shirts, his messenger bag across his chest, and his curly brown hair.

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    MaddieFeb 9, 2024 at 12:47 PM

    Great work Derek!