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Kaneda and his bike
Original Manga Katsuhiro Otomo
Director/Artist Katsuhiro Otomo
Format Anime (Movie), Manga
Made By *See Main Description
Episode Length 124 minutes
# of Eps/Volumes 1 movie, 6 volumes


Drama, Sci-Fi, Action

Sum it up in a Sentence:

Motorcycle gang gets caught up in futuristic military psychic experiements.

Main Description

In the year 2019, thirty-one years after World War III, the Neo-Tokyo goverment is waging a never-ending struggle against the criminals that virtually rules the shattered city. A top-secret child with amazing powers of the minds breaks free from custody and accidentally gets a motorcycle gang involved in the project. The incident triggers psychic powers within one of the members, Tetsuo, and he is taken by the army and experimented on. His mind has been warped and is now on the path of war, exacting revenge on the society that once called him weak.
Scene from the manga

The Akira movie was such an ambitious project that no one studio had the money or resources to complete it alone. The committee of companies that was assembled to complete the project are publisher Kodansha, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Bandai, Hakuhodo Incorporated, distributor Toho, Laserdisc Corporation, Sumitomo, and animation producer Tokyo Movie Shinsha.

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Personal Opinions


Akira is from a time when anime was more well known as being select hardcore action anime flicks “absolutely not for children” rather than the fluffy big-eyed kawaii that makes anime such an easy target for ridicule now. While more of that “hardcore” nonsense was throw-away entertainment at best, Akira is rather awesome.

The level of detail to backgrounds and character movement and animation is just amazing. Akira looks and feels so much better than many other animated works despite its proportionately lower budget. This anime was definitely a work of art.

Yes, Akira is serious business and a little bit convoluted upon the first viewing but it’s still worth watching if you enjoy your anime peppered with sci-fi and post-apocalyptic action. It’s a classic for a reason.


This anime is the hallmark separator between the kawaii neko-tan junior highschool anime fan and the serious business anime affectionado. Some of the older "veteran" anime fans will judge you based on wether or not you've seen this anime. Akira was arguably the first anime to be really popularized in the United States. Some would say it was the driving force behind the underground VHS fan sub movement during the early 90's, and was shown over and over again at universities by baffled film professors who were in awe of its violent, intense, imagery and provocative undertones. It rocked their world.

This is an absolute must see anime. It is a masterpiece that is written into the record books of anime.

Dan a man

Akira is well worth watching. It is not only an important anime but also an important work of sci-fi. It is so good that it over the years it has attracted many people to watch it who hadn't previously enjoyed anime. Although it seems for each person it converts into an anime fan, it also creates an annoying I-hate-all-anime-except-for-Akira-HURRR fan. (But you shouldn't hold that against the movie.) The story it tells manages to be abstract enough to make you think, yet have enough concrete elements so that you're not completely confused. Everything is so detailed and beautifully drawn that you'll forget you're watching something that was made 20 years ago. Also worth watching if you want to see where Invader Zim most likely got its inspiration for Old Kid, Plague of Babies, and Zim's Santa suit.


To me, personally, Akira is …an experience more than anything else; transcending the boundaries of science fiction, anime and even mere storytelling. It raises a plethora of questions, yet makes no attempt to answer any of them – it merely provides the viewer a few fleeting glimpses into the intoxicating neon-lit world of Neo-Tokyo. It is at times, exciting, boring, clever, stupid, simple and infinitely complex. It haunts me to this day.

Robert Denby

One thing people easily forget about 'AKIRA' is that nothing like it has been made in Japan before or since. Instead of having animation once every three frames and voiceovers dubbed in after animation was finished (a cost-cutting measure and the standard for anime, even Studio Ghibli), 'AKIRA' had all of it's dialogue pre-recorded by the actors in a group, with the image truly synched to the dialogue done on the basis of having animation every other frame (the typical standard), or in some action sequences, every frame. There's also a surprising number of shots with double exposures, elaborate composites, backlighting, and all manners of visual effects techniques, including a few seconds of early computer animation.

In addition, there is staggering attention to detail in the set, vehicle, and prop design (to the point where Otomo gave a member of the design team a daylong project of creating a potentially workable futuristic jukebox, which appears for a grand total of five shots in the movie). In addition, most of the film takes place at night, a big no-no for animation as it means there's a lot more colors and shades you have to deal with in order to make shots look convincing. This led to a total of fifty unique paint-colors being created exclusively for use on this film.

Going through the action sequences frame by frame reveals that they truly spared no expense when it came to how the film looked, and this is the most detailed and fluid animation to ever come out of Japan. Add to that the fact that this movie is a solid two hours makes it all the more incredible.

Shoji Yamashiro's music is aggressively unique as well, with plenty of unusual instruments at work.

Oh... I forgot to mention the story. Well, prepare to be confused if you've never seen it before. Aljerando Jordowsky drunkenly suggested the ending to Otomo, and that should give you a taste of just how convoluted and weird things get. Elements of it do make sense, but some of it is brought to you almost subliminally, as the vaguest of vague hints.Reading the manga makes it slightly less confusing, but it just amps up the crazy (and is also awesome).

The characters make up for the convoluted nature of the story and are thankfully not archetypes. Kaneda and his biker buddies don't have any real political agenda, they're just bored, frustrated kids beating the shit out of each other. The government is a lazy, bureaucratic nightmare that doesn't seem to care about it's citizens, while the resistance against them is shady, violent, and tied to some horrible people. The colonel is the sanest of the bunch, even though he's prone to condone martial law and mass arrests of his enemies. No-one is really likable, and there's no easy out for the 'big issues' of Otomo's future.

I digress... Trying to sum up 'AKIRA' is difficult. I just tried here to mention the not-oft-mentioned. tl;dr - I highly recommend this movie and the manga it was based off of, just if you keep in mind that there's 23 years of mammoth praise and expectations behind it. Watch it on Blu-Ray, as it's honestly like seeing it again for the first time.


This anime has a special place in my heart, it being the first anime I ever watched knowing it was anime. After I had finished, I remember I lay in bed for what seemed like hours, trying to digest what I saw and all of the themes therein. A future dystopia, political commentary, the horror of a journey into madness, and philosophical questions as to mankind's place in the universe were only some, as well as just what happened at the end of the story. It also struck me because it was the first movie I had seen where there was no "hero" or "villain;" both the protagonists and antagonists are reprehensible in some way, but ultimately sympathetic too. I highly enjoyed the movie, but once I discovered the manga, I'd have to recommend that over the movie. The different format allows for some things to be more detailed, and though the story is different (the movie was made before the manga had finished, so some adaptations were made), it is more complete.