So after learning about Japanese animators, last week, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to geek out about one of my favorite anime films of all time. Luckily, it's also a historically significant one.
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and released in 1988, Akira is almost unanimously credited with having brought the anime style to the American main-stream. The movie follows the story of Tetsuo, a young hood who has similar brain waves to that of Akira, who is responsible for the destruction of the former Tokyo. I won't delve too far into the plot, as it's ridiculously complicated and has all sorts of sci-fi shit that I can't explain. Basically, Tetsuo is abducted by the government and must be rescued by his best friend, Kaneda. When Tetsuo learns of his own amazing powers he is heavily corrupted by them and rampages through Neo-Tokyo. Apparently, it's up to Kaneda to stop him...
The story of Akira is unique, but the setting and some of the characters were taken from a 2182 page manga of the same name, also created by Katsuhiro Otomo.
The production of Akira was so ambitious and had such a high budget that it ended up uniting several companies throughout Japan to form the Akira Committee. The Akira Committee consisted of publisher Kodansha Ltd., Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc., Bandai Co., Ltd.,Hakuhodo Incorporated, distributor Toho Co., Ltd., Laserdisc Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and animation producer Tokyo Movie Shinsha Co., Ltd.
The animation of Akira also marks a milestone for anime, as there was detailed lip-syncing throughout the film, and extremely fluid motion. A common shortcut in anime film-making is the lip-syncing, animators will often use just two or three cycling frames to show dialogue (this dates back even to Astro-Boy). The animators of Akira put a great deal of effort into fluidity which, in turn, helped to make the film palatable for American audiences.
Akira was almost entirely positively recieved by critics and viewers.