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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.48%
Average: 14.61%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.37%

2 reviews, 77 user ratings

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Akira (1989)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Robert Collins

"Worthy of acclaim; just not a cult"
3 stars

"Akira'"s tag line is "Neo-Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E!" And with a plot structure this dense, this convoluted, threatening at any time to burst at the seams, it seems very much appropriate.

Though much of Akira is needlessly complicated, thankfully, the main plot remains mostly decipherable throughout. In a bleak future (as if there were any other kinds of future in science fiction), society has been given up to make way for technological advances, and in the slums of Neo-Tokyo, bike gangs run rampant. The focus is upon two of these bikers: the charismatic leader Kaneda, and Tetsuo, whose reliance upon Kaneda has forced him resentfully into the background. After a tragic encounter with a psionic child, the gang uncovers a government conspiracy, and, with the assistance of a revolutionist, try to prevent the total destruction of their city.

Based upon a much-revered and considerably long Japanese Manga serial with which it shares its name, Akira compacted its bi-weekly strip to a comparatively short running time of little more than two hours. It was then, once again, stripped away of even more excess from the Japanese version of the film to supposedly relieve the short-lived attention spans of the American public; that, in turn, would eventually become its most noticeable and greatest flaw.

Despite cutting down upon the length of the film, seemingly all of the film's complex subplots remained. However, with the limited time, the film begin to suffer from incoherence and inconsistencies. Some of the subplots' resolutions became rather hasty, and, with the unrelentingly breakneck pace, some seem to be lacking any kind of conclusion at all. With such an enormous amount of side-stories and legions of characters, Akira's plot becomes brain-numbingly confusing, and an exercise in how much you are able to retain.

With the action seemingly non-stop, there is little time to discern what's happening, and, with new subplots revealing themselves in rapid succession, that's a real shame. Even worse, Akira suffers from an overload of themes, and, thus, risks becoming a true philosophical nightmare. At its end, its main theme is apparent (the prices mankind and society must pay for the continuation of technological progress), but there are so many other secondary ones that their significance becomes cloudy and even meaningless. One would wish Akira would take a more leisurely pace, just so one could clearly realize what points the filmmakers were attempting to make, and even simply immerse themselves into the lavish imagery present.

Oh, I didn't mention that? Technically, Akira is excellent, definitely one of the superior examples in its genre. With a unique, often subtle synthesized score rich with chords and breathtaking detail to every one of its visuals, one deed of which it cannot be accused is laziness. The character designs, unlike much of its anime brethren, are naturalistic and unexaggerated; they and the solid, grimy architecture of the setting all add to the gritty realism aspired by the picture. Whether it is assaulting them or massaging them (usually the former), Akira is nonetheless infinitely appealing to the senses.

Akira, despite its numerous flaws, still deserves a look. Since its production in 1988, it has continued to be a very competent action/science fiction flick with an admirable amount of intelligence. What it lacks in coherence, it makes up for in its stunning visual endeavors and its technical genius. Even though what it means to say doesn't always come across clearly, at least it knows what it's trying to articulate. While its adult themes and unquestionably spectacular artwork have propelled to a cult status of which it isn't entirely deserving, it is nevertheless a crucial animated film and a rather entertaining one, to boot.

And, no matter how unfavorable anybody's objections are toward the film, one must praise "Akira" for how it was able to introduce the Western civilization to the anime medium and bring the genre into a more mainstream light, paving the way for superior works, like classics "Ninja Scroll," "Ghost in the Shell," and "Princess Mononoke." For that, I'll always be thankful

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originally posted: 06/17/02 13:12:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/20 Rk2 The animation truly conveys energy, and the ending is wonderful chaos. 5 stars
8/25/18 Ted Fraraccio A true classic. A thought-provoking look at the abuse of power. Cam Clarke IS Kaneda. 5 stars
6/17/11 the truth Anyone who thinks this is hard to follow or needlessly violent is either slow or delusional 5 stars
3/03/11 chris c Visual balllet of a anime movie with fantasticly animated scenes and some graphic violence 5 stars
12/23/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess See the uncut version 5 stars
6/03/10 User Name Magnifficantly rendered. No dubs, just subtitles (come on, you can read, you lazy bastards) 4 stars
10/07/08 Shaun Wallner I really enjoyed this film. 5 stars
1/21/08 gsbr STFU Akira_773 and Zefram Mann. The old dub kills the new one. 5 stars
6/15/07 Anthony G A classic, destroys most anime out there and its over 15 years old. 5 stars
3/27/07 Indrid Cold If this is as good as anime gets, then I'm OK with never seeing another one. 3 stars
12/03/06 -_-''' One of the best animated film along with Spirit Away and Ghost In The Shell 5 stars
1/26/06 the laughing man superb in animation. kind of goes overboard with violence though. 4 stars
10/20/05 a ninja inspired "tetsuo" sound track but on the whole the books are better 4 stars
8/16/05 ES This movie shows how sexual repression and two atom bombs can mess up a whole society 3 stars
11/16/04 Dunce Classic sci-fi, one of the best, animated or otherwise. See the undubbed if you can. 5 stars
8/21/04 House of the Dead Hell, it's "Akira", people! The "Pulp Fiction" of anime! Classic, glorious stuff. 5 stars
8/06/04 DM Amazing how they left so much out of the book and still made it too long 4 stars
4/07/04 Sig Now this should win an Oscar or Academy... Oh well. 5 stars
3/20/04 Jack-pyschO-Lantern This is something James Cameron would do if Disney would let him. 5 stars
3/18/04 Umbrella Corporation. Violent, dark, depressing & sadistic... 'AKIRA' is what were looking for................... 5 stars
3/17/04 PAYNE_KillerZ fred, no offence but... THIS IS DA SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/09/04 fred ugly stupid Nippy a waste sick 1 stars
3/09/04 gray weird 3 stars
11/25/03 Sean Thomas Very fluid animation for a 1988 anime. The dubbing wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. 5 stars
9/22/03 Flounder This is one of the most outstanding movies that I have ever had the pleasure of viewing 5 stars
8/31/03 Rens Henkemans Arguably the best cell animation ever and fantastic cyberpunk atmos. Watch it. 5 stars
7/30/03 Jon Thumb the Toad Lyrik Stunning animation, plot, and action. A masterpiece. 5 stars
7/14/03 Jim Mind-blowing 5 stars
7/13/03 Sammy best anime ever made and maybe even one of the best movies ever! 5 stars
6/06/03 Chris amazing anime - best you are going to see 5 stars
5/04/03 roulettedares Greatest movie ever - and I don't even like anime. 5 stars
3/12/03 Butterball Cenobite confusing, adolescent-aimed plot and characters; but amazing animation and imagination 4 stars
12/05/02 XoNaR Plain awesome 5 stars
10/15/02 maximal01 The plot gets convoluted, but the "power = responsiblity" theme-and the movie-kick ass!! 5 stars
9/26/02 Morally Sound One kick ass movie. 5 stars
7/20/02 Brian the definitive anime feature in america. the new DVD is a solid buy. 5 stars
6/28/02 Zefram Mann The new dub is increadible. Better AND more faithful to the original story. 5 stars
6/04/02 Brian Although the new dub is great, the old, subpar dub was part of the classic Akira expirience 5 stars
4/29/02 Akira_773 The new English dub "sucks a fatty?" Odd, considering it actually crushes the old dub... 5 stars
4/25/02 maximal01 Never seen anything quite like this. It scared the shit out of me as a kid!klkllkkllkllkllk 5 stars
4/18/02 klkllkkllkll klkkkkllkklkk 5 stars
3/28/02 NeuroManson Don't like the dub? Turn on the Japanese audio, use English subtitles, and LEARN TO READ!!! 5 stars
2/10/02 koopatroopa new dvd dubbing sucks a big 1. wtf were they thinking? still kicks though 5 stars
12/15/01 Jim Amazing movie will blow your mind. Eeyaagh! Giant teddy bears! 5 stars
10/19/01 Reanna ( Anyboy with an anti-anime bias should see this to get their minds set straight. Brilliant!! 5 stars
9/23/01 Jade Nguyen It's Hella Kool 5 stars
9/21/01 The Bomb 69 confusing plot and ending, bad english dub and editing, awesome animation 3 stars
9/17/01 LoOpY I love this movie! But steer clear of the DVD if you can, the new english dub sucks a fatty 5 stars
9/10/01 Filmhead Without doubt the best anime ever made!! 5 stars
8/21/01 Doust19 Incredible! Definately a viewing for anyone who thinks animation is shallow 5 stars
8/02/01 KC Au Incoherent, confusing and poorly drawn. One of the worst Anime I have ever seen!! 1 stars
6/15/01 zombie great anime 5 stars
6/03/01 spindrift19 Best Manga film ever, along with Ghost in the Shell 5 stars
6/02/01 javiero bonar i could beat off to this movie its so good 5 stars
5/27/01 Maria Confusing ending. Not just a guy film,I'm13 yrs.old and a girl,7th grade. I get the point. 5 stars
5/16/01 Dustin Great Animation & Energy/Bad Character Develpment, Confusing Plot, Bad English Dub Acting 3 stars
5/03/01 Jinx Beautifully drawn, jerky animation, no story 3 stars
4/01/01 Korben Dallas NO WAY DUDES!!!! i think Akira and Ghost in the Shell both rock. 5 stars
3/12/01 Jon Cotleur I think Ghost in the Shell is better, but Akira DESERVED to be... it kept too many secrets. 4 stars
2/12/01 LOOBER Imaginative with one of the best anime animations but confusing,bad ending,acid and grazy 3 stars
1/30/01 jjshabaloo you'll never see animation the same way again 5 stars
1/06/01 Matt If you do not want to have to think, don't see it. 5 stars
11/21/00 Son Gokou another classic anime with great visuals and cool action 5 stars
10/27/00 viking Animated ultra violence 4 stars
9/27/00 mr.roboto yeah whatever, this is one of the stupidest movies i've ever seen. where's Disney 1 stars
9/18/00 Patrick Clark Kick ass! 4 stars
8/13/00 Frank Mitko Liked it. Wish to hear about other anime. 4 stars
6/12/00 Azza Fucking brillant 5 stars
5/18/00 Tunnel Rat I enjoyed the film, but it isn't as good as Ghost in the Shell 4 stars
3/12/00 Inflatable_pink_sheep Saw it when I was 9 - even now it inspires me. 5 stars
3/09/00 Nevawuz ( Akira ( the Japanese version) is a work of Art---- a deeply resonant, life- changing film 5 stars
9/19/99 Aaron White Combines the kinetic energy of a Terminator flick with the panache of an Orson Welles. 5 stars
9/16/99 strike Disney will never have the guts to make a masterpiece like this one. 5 stars
8/22/99 Physh Akira put a whole new dimention into animated movies...intelligence. 5 stars
4/30/99 Rob Mckechnie Is there any other movie on the planet similar to this? It Kicks Major Arse! 5 stars
4/08/99 Ah Dooey Anime... gotta love 'em... 4 stars
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  02-Feb-1989 (NR)


  02-Feb-1989 (M)

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