Akira is a beautiful and also haunting film. It gives the viewer a look into a post apocalyptic Japan 30 years after an H-bomb destroys Tokyo. It follows a gang of punk bickers when one of their friends are captured and tested for a project the government called Akira. When their friend cannot control his new powers it leads to his distraction at the end of the film. With a sometimes-spiritual theme Akira was a groundbreaking film in the world of animation. In the years sense has the film developed a cult following from young men.
Akira in many film historians minds is the film that started the animation revolution of the nineteen nineties. The vision of creator Katsuhiro Otomo, who originated it as a comic book or a Manga as its known in Japan, were it was an instant hit. The next logical step was the animation, but animation like no one in the world had seen before. Otomo took the chance to present Neo Tokyo in its full glory and created it in vivid detail without compromising his visual ideas. Akira was the first film to use colorist Steve Olff’s Olyoptics computer coloring process. This gave Otomo’s crew the freedom to designed Akira down to the tiniest nook and cranny. This was the first animation film to have most of its coloring done on a computer. In one of its more breathtaking sense we follow a group of bikers as they are ridding we see the trail of there taillights. Details like this added to the overall awing look of this remarkable film
Otomo was who had a keen eye for detail insisted that the film be shot in 70mm for the quality best picture. Details are abounded everywhere you looked. With a chilling plot of science gone mad and animation like no one had done before at that time, even from the Walt Disney Company who is know for its animation.
Akira was Otomo’s first major film animation project. He had done some animated shorts before Akira, but nothing of the magnitude of Akira. Strangely he had never attempted something like this since. He has worked on several films and comics sense Akira. His most recent have ranged from producing an anime titled Memories (he also directed one of the three segments in Memories) along with being a consultant on the 1996 film Ghost in the Shell. He has also wrote and illustrated an issue of the Batman comic book. But Otomo is ready to get back in the saddle, and will be returning to the director’s position for a new anime project in the near future.
Another unique part about Akira is its soundtrack. Composed by Yanashiro Shoji and Geinoh Yamashirogumi , the soundtrack contains very little instrumentation. While there is some use of electrical guitar and Synthesizer most of using instruments the soundtrack consist of mostly vocal work preformed by the Japanese music trop Noh. Noh is known for using vocals as an instrument. They are also master percussionists, along with using xylophones along with using bamboo polls and sticks to create a unique sound that perfectly fits this groundbreaking film.
An unusual trend followed this film with you young males in the United States. The film was released in the United States to marginal box office success. The real success of this film in the United States though came on video. The films distributor Orion Pictures along with Streamline Films released the film on video in the early ninties’s with support of such large retailers as blockbuster video the a video hit. This lead to a trend that was known as Manga or Anime. With its adult plots and R-rated animation Akira along with outer films like it developed a cult following among teenage men who related to them due to there rebellious nature. This lead many art houses across the country to start having midnight screenings of the picture. In 1995 Marvel Comics re-published a translated version of Akira, and a popular clothing line was made. But as with most trends the popularity and sales of these such films soon died, causing many distributors including the company that produced Akira, Streamline Pictures to go bankrupt. Akira was purchased recently by Pioneer Entertainment who plain on re-mastering the film and creating a digital soundtrack for re-releases of the film in theaters and also DVD.
A strange production fact is that the day Akira released his final blow that destroyed Tokyo and started WWIII, has changed several times. The original date was that of the release of the comic book. It was changed again to 1-1-1988 to coincide with the release of the animated movie. The latest re-release of Akira, by the Voyager Criterion Collection, has changed the date once again to 1996 were it has stayed for now.
Making Akira was a monumental film the likes of which we may never see again. Not only did it change the way that animated films were made. It proved that animation was not just for kids, and that adults could relate to the imagery and beauty of the film. Akira is in no way of the sense a traditional animated film. It tells a detailed story that played with the medium, almost making it spooky to think of what it’s capable of. Akira is a film that influenced the way animation is made around the world. Even though parts of it may seem primitive by today’s Toy Story standard it is still a beautiful film and an achievement that paved the way to those such films.
Cinema and Television