I have no doubt that the first time most westerners watch this they will feel confused afterwards. I’m pretty sure that the first time they see it they will think the animation was excellent, at least for its time. Maybe some will know they have just seen something special. Akira is probably the most famous Japanese animated movie, manga or anime, and is surely the most influential. It may not be an exaggeration to say it is one of the most influential movies of any kind ever, as many films, animated and not, have taken elements directly from it.

I won’t try to summarise the plot, i’m not sure if i can make it sound comprehensible, but it involves biker gangs, friendship, overpowering technology, and the apocalypse. The plot is confusing at times, especially for western audiences who had simply not experienced anything quite like this before, and the frantic pace and quick direction only make everything seem more chaotic (as if that wasn’t the point to some degree), but the more times you watch it, the more you will see this is not a flaw. The animation is some of the best ever seen, the vision of Neo-Tokyo is stunning, and the last half hour is mind-blowing. Some parts are quite touching too, without becoming overly sappy, as we watch Tesuo’s struggle, and the multitude of themes are well worth thinking about…

This 2 disc edition offers two versions of the film, one with better sound, updated translation etc, though other features are sparse especaially when considering what a huge film this was.

As always, feel free to comment on the move- is this the epitome of Japanese animation?

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