Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Akira (Ôtomo. 1988)

"He's not your friend, he's ours! If somebody's gonna kill him, it should be us!"

Animation is very hit or miss for me. I am not usually the biggest fan of kid movies, so most animation is completely out the door. With that being said, you would think that anime would be prefect for me because it is animation with adult content. Anime is just defined as animation from Japan, but the term has now taken leaps into its very own genre. This all started with Katsuhiro Ôtomo's Akira. Though the film is widely considered a classic, I was not the biggest fan of my first animated feature from the 1077 Films to See Before You Die.

Akira is based on the Katsuhiro Ôtomo manga of the same name, and this is the first flaw of the picture. The story follows a young biker gang member named Kaneda. One of his childhood friends, Tetsuo, has accidentally fallen into a a secret government project that leaves him with exceptional psychic superpowers. Now, for the safety of the futuristic neo-Tokyo, Kaneda and a group of adolescent psychics must reluctantly join forces to stop Tetsou from releasing Akira.

I'll admit that the plot does sound pretty cool, but Akira is not a cool film. Its main issue is that Ôtomo tries to cram six volumes of manga into a two hour film. There is way too much going on at once during the whole thing. Several characters and elements are introduced without any real explanation. It seemed like Ôtomo simply refused to trim the fat off his own creation. Some films, especially animation, can get away with a lighting fast pace. But Akira was simply not interesting enough to make it work.

Though the tempo of the film was frantic to the point of nausea, Akira could have been saved if the content was even in the least bit satisfying. Instead of a sufficient narrative, this picture hits you over the head with futuristic looking nonsense. The viewer is also rewarded with a mass amount of mature elements like blood, gore, foul language and even a pair of cartoon breasts. I would not watch Akira with my mother - not that I would even watch it a second time in the first place.

But, like almost every film on the 1077 Films to See Before You Die, Akira does have a redeeming quality. The visual effects and animations throughout the entire thing are mind boggling. This was one of the most colorful and artistically well-crafted films I have ever seen in my life. Akira is one of the films that introduced this style of animation to the rest of the world - and that must count for something.

I really did hate Akira. I mean, this is not even close to the hatred I had for Dog Star Man - but I can honestly say that I will never approach anything else made by Ôtomo (unless it is on the list). In fact, Akira has put a sour taste in my mouth regarding all of popular anime. Gross? Yes. Confusing? Kinda. Well made? Maybe. Entertaining? No.

Akira sucked.

Akira: C-

My Next Film....Performance (Cammell. Roeg. 1970)

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