Akira (1988)

akira poster 1988 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals, perfect example of good anime

The story gets a little sidelined near the last third of the film.

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Akira

Studio:  Tatsunoko Productions

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 16, 1988

MPAA Rating:  R



An explosion in Japan of a new weapon sets off World War III across the globe. Now in Neo-Tokyo in 2019, the world is trying to rebuild. When a biker gang called the Capsules led by Shotaro Kaneda encounters a strange child known as Takashi, one of their members called Tetsuo Shima is injured in the encounter. Something has been unlocked in Tetsuo, and he’s become unhinged. Tetsuo is becoming something new and could be a threat to the world unless Shotaro can stop him…and what of the mysterious Akira?  Will he return?


I’d go psycho with dreams like this…

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira (or アキラ) became a classic of Japanese anime. It adapts Otomo’s manga though it was released two years before the actual manga finished. It has become a cult classic and for years a live action version of the film has been tossed around Hollywood.

Akira is ripe for a cult hit. It has everything you’d expect from a big epic anime film. It does have a rather long running time of just over two hours and that might be a little long for some, but it is rather necessary to tell the very visual story.


So wait…you’re Akira? What?

The story of Akira is kind of strange and sometimes hard to follow. The story involves government cover-ups, biker gangs, superhuman kids with psychic powers, and Akira…who actually caused the original destruction in Tokyo. The path from the beginning of the film to the end of the film takes a lot of twists and turns and almost seems to change themes a bit in the third segment.

I like the start of the film with Tetsuo and Shotaro and the appearance of Takashi because I like the jealous rivalry set up between Shotaro and Tetsuo, and that I feel is the real thrust of the movie. Tetsuo versus Shotaro…I kind of zone out when much of the military and Akira stuff happens. The whole last part of the film is a struggle for me because the connections between the characters seem so skewed and strange…sometimes Shotaro is willing to kill Tetsuo and other times he still wants to save him.


TETSUO!!! You’ve looked better

Regardless what you think about anime, the style of Akira is top notch. There is bad anime, but this isn’t one of them. The visuals are stunning and for people who might have grown up with substandard anime (like G-Force aka Battle of the Planets) or more recent anime (like Pokémon), real quality art show how good the style can be if it is really worked on. It is an acquired taste, but I think Akira is a bit more acquirable than other anime films.

Akira is an important movie for animation and sci-fi. If you’ve never seen it, seek it out…If you have seen it, check out the manga collections to see how it was changed and how the manga translates to film (movies like The Matrix borrowed heavily from the film’s style). I would be interested in seeing the live-action Akira, but I also think it probably would be bad. Only time will tell if we’ll see someone screaming “TETSUO!!!!!” in real life.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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