Akira is a truly timeless film. The sheer intelligence of the movie may not instantly be apparent upon a first viewing, but it stands up there with other hard-hitters of the genre such as Ghost in the shell and Ninja Scroll...
The story is based in a near-futuristic Japan. Imagine a rebuilt Neo-Tokyo after World War 3, which, in Akira, subsequently occurred in the late eighties (Though the time paradox is not likely to distract or irritate the viewer as a major anomaly, at least not to the same degree as films such as Space 1999). The city is wrought with student protesters, cultist activists who believe that 'Lord Akira' will arise to lead them to a new era, fascist police, biker punks and rebel agents aiming to overthrow the corrupt government (well, that's a rough description of the populous anyway).
The story follows two biker punks, Tetsuo and Kaneda, though occasionally flicks to a scientist (who is studying Akira, a boy whose awesome power destroyed old Tokyo), weird children (from the Akira project), members of the rebel cause and a General from the government council. With such a cast the plot does get quite elaborate and can be a little hard to understand if you are unprepared, but te film portrays the story in a fantastic style.
From an action standpoint, there's plenty going on with sequences ranging from high-octain bike chases to all out war between the seemingly invincible Tetsuo and the military, though the action is broke apart by incredibly drawn ambient portrayals of the futuristic setting, breaking up the rapid pace of some of the scenes.
Graphically the film does look slightly dated when compared to the likes of more recent films (Akira was made in the days before CGI was implemented in animé, as such its pretty much entirely hand-drawn, which to me at least, adds to the impressiveness of the film) but is still up there amongst the best, from an art and design standpoint.
The soundtrack is incredible. Geinoh Yamashirogumi creates a varied assortment of tracks which all hold well with the theme of the film, however, in earlier releases of the film the English voice overs are a little... I don't know, contrived? Dodgy stuff nonetheless, though in the digitally remastered version the voices have been redone, and are far more suitable, though if in doubt stick with the Japanese voice over with subtitles.
Akira is one of those films that WILL make an impact on your imagination and is an essential purchase for all animé fans... no make that all film fans.Read full review