I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Akira

tn_akiraIt’s hard out there in Neo-Tokyo. I don’t have to tell you guys. I’m sure shit was even worse right after the old Tokyo got nuked, but it’s still no picnic. You got a police state trying to crack down on all the protesters, not just the terrorists setting off bombs everywhere. You got cultists carrying on about the end times and the second coming, and it doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it used to. All you can really do is go to bars, buy capsules, steal motorcycles, customize ’em, then get out there with your friends and attack some other gang, chase ’em through the streets, hit ’em in the head with pipes, try to murder them. That’s what childhood pals Kaneda and Tetsuo do, fighting some clowns. And I don’t mean that like jokers or bozos, but an actual gang of guys who wear clown makeup. I don’t see any juggalo type symbols on them, so I’m not sure if it’s that type of deal or not.

Anyway, it’s the only fun a young man has these days and the cops even interfere with that. Ruin everything.

mp_akiraThe boys are about to get involved in some weird shit. There’s some sinister business going on nearby. A burly guy named Ryu and a teenage girl are on the run with a little boy whose face is wrinkled like an old man. Riot cops are chasing them with dogs. This happens in the middle of a traffic jam. Ryu has to shoot the dogs right in front of people. He’s part of an underground group trying to liberate these kids from government experiments. When Kaneda and friends get swept up as suspects in a bombing, Tetsuo ends up in the program himself, undergoing treatments that unleash astonishing brain powers.

Kaneda’s real young but he’s our badass hero. Kind of a futuristic James Dean who color-coordinates his leather jacket with his motorcycle (both bright red). His bike has corporate logos on it, including Canon for some reason. I don’t know if those were on there when he stole it or if even the rebellious gangsters of the future worship the gods of capital. Or have sponsors.

Whatever the deal is with that, Kaneda teams up with the rebels, hoping they can find his old friend. Meanwhile Tetsuo sits confused in his hospital bed, suffering from crazy hallucinations and psychic messages from more of the creepy old-faced kids, one of whom looks exactly like Louie Anderson. I believe this was originally made as a spin-off of the cartoon Life With Louie.

akira-louie

As a side note, it’s weird that one of the things comedians used to do when they were really successful was have a cartoon show about themselves as kids. I believe Roseanne Barr also had one, and Damon Wayans, and Bill Cosby, and John Candy if that counts. The comedy landscape is pretty different now but I wouldn’t rule out Life With Louis C.K.

AKIRA has alot of action, including but not limited to a chase on a GI JOE-esque flying snowmobile type vehicle Kaneda hijacks in a sewer tunnel. We always figured there were mutant alligators down there but we didn’t know about the cool vehicles.

The movie slowly reveals bits of this history, that Old Tokyo was blown up by this psychic kid named Akira, now worshipped by the cult and the basis of this scientific study that Tetsuo is mixed up in. What nobody seems to understand yet is that Tetsuo is powerful too, and growing, maybe to be more powerful than Akira ever was. Which would be bad. I mean maybe he could use the powers to clean up the city, pimp out motorcycles and protect dogs from being shot, but he doesn’t really have that kind of personality. He’s an immature little punk with an inferiority complex because he was picked on as a kid and even resents the kid who protected him (Kaneda). They have that childhood bond but Kaneda doesn’t mind putting Tetsuo in his place, and Tetsuo’s not gonna accept the putting now that he has super powers that make Carrie White seem like, you know, an ordinary non-raging-telekinetic-powered person. So when he gets out, which he does immediately, everybody’s in fuckin trouble.

I guess this must be the inspiration for that movie CHRONICLE, where a bitter little asshole kid gets powers and instead of using it to blow girls skirts up or even ruin the prom he goes out into town to just stand there and create a whirlwind of destruction, basically whipping his psychic dick out and slapping everybody in the face with it repeatedly. Doing helicopters with it. By this point the military have pushed aside the dumb politicians behind these experiments, maybe the most positive portrayal of a military coup I’ve seen on film. (I’m not familiar enough with the Louie cartoon to know if that’s a theme they explore alot.)

So it’s Tetsuo facing off against bombs and satellites, plus the psychic old people kids, plus his best friend Kaneda has the balls to go right up to him and call him out on being a dick. The animation here is especially great. He gets an arm blown off and telekinetically weaves garbage into veins and muscle tissue to create a new one. He gets out of control and starts pulsating and throbbing, inflating into a giant, vaguely baby-shaped pile of mutated organs, growing around his friends, suffocating them. Don’t do that, kids.

From what I understand this is one of the landmarks of the Japanese anime animation cartoons which is not just for kids anymore, etc. Makes sense ’cause I’ve never seen anything like it. The story is very dense and I don’t really understand alot of it, but the filmatists make up for it with a fully realized dystopian world, hyper-detailed animation, chaotic atmosphere and highly imaginative psychedelic imagery. Worth watching even for those of us who will never wear a cape or carry an oversized sword into a convention center.

UPDATE: I have some love for the people in capes with the oversized swords doing their thing. I shouldn’t have ended on that note, ’cause it sounds negative. I just mean I’m not an anime guy and I thought it was worth watching, so you might too.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 9:30 pm and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

62 Responses to “Akira”

  1. p.s. Merry Christmas Griff.

  2. Nice work. One of my fav’s. Not the best anime I’ve ever seen but super influential to a whole generation. Also Long Live the Teddy Bear!

  3. Griff gonna lose his shit

  4. awwwww, you’ve warmed the cockles of my heart, thanks Vern

    yes, I’ve seen Akira of course (but I’ve never worn a cape or carried an over sized sword into a convention center), but not for a long time, I’ve been meaning to watch it again in HD, anime like this begs to be seen in HD and yeah, it’s a classic, one thing I love is the what I like to call “oh no, shit’s going DOWN!” apocalyptic atmosphere

    so Vern, if you’re open to watching more Japanese anime animation cartoon movies, I have some suggestions

    1. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, this is my highest recommendation, this movie is stunning, it features animation so mind blowingly detailed that it makes classic Disney look like He-Man (thank the Japanese bubble economy), what it’s about is a strange alternate version of Earth (everything from Popsicles to fans to cars to guns to tanks to Religion gets an odd alternate universe makeover) and it’s story of the first man to enter space, I’m really at a loss for words to describe just how great this movie is, this is really a movie that should be on everyone’s bucket list to see eventually, it captures what it feels like to be young, the excitement of scientific discovery, makes you ponder humanity’s place in the universe, I could go on, God do I love this movie (and fun fact: Bryan Cranston voices one of the characters in the English dub, yes really)

    2. Memories: this is an anthology movie made up of three vignette’s, one of which is directed by the director of Akira, without spoiling any details I’ll just say that the first segment is a brilliant take on “sci fi horror”, the second a strange black comedy about the end of the world and the third is a steampunk styled political satire, very highly recommended

    3. Patlabor 2: you don’t really need any prior knowledge of the Patlabor series to watch this (I don’t have any) although this is a Mamoru Oshii film, meaning you’re pretty much only gonna have a vague idea of what’s going on, but it’s an experience worth having nonetheless

    technically it’s a giant robot anime, but don’t let that scare you off, there’s surprisingly little robots in it, instead the focus is on the story of an attempted military coup in Tokyo, it’s a very political film with at times almost hypnotic atmosphere and eerily predictive of things like the War on Terror and the 1995 Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo

    4. Steamboy: from the director of Akira, this is one is just a fun action adventure movie with gorgeous animation, your brain doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting

  5. Dang, now I want to see Vern take on GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES and SPIRITED AWAY.

  6. I’m not saying this ain’t a real spectacular piece of work, but it’s the movie that introduced me to my standard anime reaction of starting out at “Wow, this is really impressive” to “Oh dear god make it stop” in under two hours.

  7. Illinois Smith

    May 16th, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Jam – You’re in luck, Vern already reviewed Spirited Away a decade ago.
    http://www.outlawvern.com/2002/08/02/spirited-away/

    I’ve never been big into manga but I read through the entire run of Akira after being similarly befuddled by the movie and it’s really, really good.

    The best part is that at the end of the sewer chase Akira triggers his own psionic explosion that sends the remains of Neo-Tokyo’s society into a post-apocalyptic state. Tetsuo and Akira form the Great Toyko Empire and are worshipped as deities. This is about halfway through the story and a lot of amazing shit follows, culminating in the all-out battle at the stadium that they took as the film’s climax.
    The ending is about the same as in the movie but it’s explained a lot more clearly.

    I always wondered why they never bothered to do a sequel to the movie that covers all that, considering the wild success of this one. Oh well.

  8. Illinois Smith – yeah, an Akira 2 would have been an obvious choice, maybe Katsuhiro Otomo just doesn’t play that (kinda like Steamboy sets up a sequel at the end that will probably never be followed up on)

  9. Wings of Honnêamise is kinda rapey though

  10. yeaaaaah, I wasn’t gonna bring that up, it’s an uncomfortable and disturbing scene, but I think that’s the point

  11. the main character is meant to represent humanity at it’s best and at it’s worst

  12. billydeethrilliams

    May 16th, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Griff- I think Vern should watch Ninja Scroll. Seems right up his alley. By the way, what do you think of it?

  13. NINJA SCROLL please.

    But yeah, AKIRA’s good stuff. I think I first saw it when I was eleven years old, maybe? Hardly appropriate, and I probably understood it as much as Vern did, but it sticks with you. They’re not still trying to do a live action American remake, are they?

    http://youtu.be/jafd97yJFOI

  14. Thanks, Illinois!

  15. I saw this back in 1990, when it was a cult item in the west, circulating on VHS. “Better than anything Hollywdood has ever made!” over-excited people kept saying.

    Of course it wasn’t, not even close. But I liked it, it’s really ambitious in some aspects. But I also thought the script was a mess. And it’s overlong, and somewhat dull towards the end, despite all the destruction.

    My opinion hasn’t really changed. Good film, but IMHO for example Miyazaki alone has done at least 6 anime films that are much better than Akira. My Neighbor Totoro, which was released on the same year, blew me awayin the early 90’s. Still does.

  16. Love this movie. It did take a couple viewings to get a complete handle on the story. I suspect part of that is due to the fact that they condensed 6 rather large volumes of manga into one 2hr movie.

    What I love about this movie though is the production values on it are in my opinion still unmatched in anime, and to some extents animation period.

    Every single thing in this movie was drawn or painted by hand and 30 frames per second. Disney’s flicks might look pretty stupendous, but from what I gather as soon as computers came into play they only hand animate something like 10 or 12 frames per second and use computer morphing algorithms to make it look smoother.

    The only other movie to be done by hand at 30 frames per second is the original Heavy Metal, and as much as I dig that flick, it looks pretty weak next to this.

    Also, the Blu-Ray has the best sound I have ever heard if you can listen to the Japanese track on a Dolby Tu-HD capable receiver.

  17. Dikembe Mutombo

    May 16th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Funny review Vern, especially the Life With Louie part. I saw Akira when I was a kid, at the time it was one of the more exotic things I could rent at Blockbuster and had a NOT FOR KIDS sticker on it that featured a crudely drawn child’s face with a red slash through it. I still think it’s a really cool movie. The effort that went into the animation and into the design of the world puts it in a class of its own. I love its visual ideas, its awesome soundtrack, and even the pathos of its characters. The part where Kaori gets crushed while inside Tetsuo is so strange and horrifying.

    It’s the kind of movie where the details and the power of its imagery & music really sell the whole thing. It might still be the only anime movie where all the mouth movements are animated to sync with the dialogue, like in Disney movies. Vern, did you watch it dubbed or subtitled?

  18. Knox Harrington

    May 16th, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I’m not an anime aficionado (I’ve seen the basics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, some Miyazaki, etc.), but it seems to me that Satoshi Kon was the real genius of his generation. Perfect Blue completely blew me away. I mean, that movie was the kinda shit that would make Hitchcock proud (apparently Aronofsky worships it). I’ve yet to see all of Paranoia Agent (only watched a few random episodes), but what I did see was amazing. Such a master of atmosphere, that guy was.

    By the way, Griff, I’d appreciate some more recommendations, if you have any. I’m mostly into the drama side of anime. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, My Neighbour Totoro, that kinda thing. I get bored with mech suits and demon slayers very quickly.

    Did enjoy Death Note, though. Probably the only anime show I watched from start to finish.

  19. Akira most certainly isn’t 30fps all the way through. The animation is more jerky than in a standard Disney picture of the era. Disney films are 24fps. Which is the theatre film framerate, you couldn’t run 30fps on traditional theatres, it’s an NTSC video format. Theoretically you could run it on modern digital screens.

    They might have made the master for the film on 30fps, with home video release in mind, and maybe there are genuine shots with *30 different frames within a second* in the film.

    Most Anime’s are for the most part made at 12fps, although the framerate generally varies between different shots, from 3fps to 24fps. Which means that different amounts of still frames are repeated in different shots. When there is more action and movement, the framerate grows.

    I just checked the motorbike chase in Akira, and it seems to varie between 12fps and 24fps, with 18fps being the average. To my eyes it’s less smooth than Disney cartoons of the era. Disney films used to range between 12fps and 24fps, but they had more emphasis on 24fps shots.

    In the late 80’s and early 90’s, I don’t think there was a tool at Disney to create every other frame on computer, at least not on complex, or fast-moving shots. Even now it’s fairly hard, computers just aren’t smart enough. Try using a pro software created especially for this, like Twixtor, and you’ll see how stupid it actually is, and only works on certain kinds of shots: Slow, simple, non-complex pictures. If you have stuff like two men walking past each other, Twixtor just loses it, it doesn’t understand where the other guy disappeared, and how a second later he is suddenly there again. And it’s the *best* software on the market for creating in-between frames. In 2013.

    Of course, most animations use key-framing nowadays.

  20. I used to use this movie as an example of how although I enjoy Japanese film I sometimes feel like it’s really the only world cinema where a good percentage of the time I finish a movie and just think to myself “Wow, that was cool but there’s obviously something cultural in there that I missed because otherwise that made no god damn sense.” I just figured there were subtle cultural cues the Japanese were picking up on that I wasn’t which would explain everything, for instance why Tetsuo starts growing and attacking everything and then even though he’s just this poor kid who gets fucked around and kidnapped and so forth the movie seems pretty happy about killing him as a solution.

    But then, I had the opportunity to talk with some native Japanese filmgoers, who assured me that no one in Japan understands this stuff either. The key, they said, is that Japanese audiences are more OK with ambiguity than American ones are. They’re not really as intent at looking for a moral or a concrete plot details as much as they’re interested in the “character of the experience.” Sounds kind of like that “emotional reality” that Vern mentions about Seagal’s filmmatic character.

    Anyone live in Japan who can confirm (or deny) or add to this?

  21. tuukka – shit how about Miyazaki’s feature directing debut, the fucking entertaining as hell heist movie CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO? He would go on to make better movies with much better animation, but hell of a debut I would absolutely recommend to people who want to check out anime cinema. First anime film to play at Cannes too, if I remember right.

    Vern, you need Lupin III in your life.

    (I still remember seeing that VHS front cover as a kid, with that bigass Steven Spielberg blurb calling this one of the best adventure movies ever, and I thought gee that’s one hell of a recommendation. I have to check this out sometime, and grown up…he might actually be right.)

  22. I`m really surprised that people apparently have trouble following the plot. I haven`t seen the dubbed version in many years, but can`t remember ever been confused while watching Akira. Saw it in the cinema in my teens and still love it.

    – RRA

    I watched most of the Lupin the III franchise a couple of months ago and made a fun discovery. I knew that Spielberg was a big fan of Castle of Caligostio, but he actually ripped of an lupin tv-episode from `78 for the opening of Raiders, complete with big rolling boulder, corpses on spike that jumps out from the wall and other gags. That was pretty weird…

  23. I’m not a big fan of anime but I do own AKIRA and have seen a couple of others like LAPUTA, CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO, PRINCESS MONONOKE and PORCO ROSSO. AKIRA is very oddly oppressive and what I can only assume is a very Japanese kind of movie, with the resonance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki all through it. I think CAGLIOSTRO is the only one I have actually enjoyed.

    But I’d rather watch BATTLE OF THE PLANETS.

  24. RE: tuukka

    Yes, sorry ,mixing up 30fps with 24fps. Heavy Metal and Akira were animated at a full 24 fps (24 drawings every second). Disney typically animates at 12fps with 24fps reserved for quick action.

    “Akira” rewrote every rule for animation. It was filmed at 24 frames per second, in full Cinemascope aspect, using 312 colors in the palette (the richest palette for any hand-done animation ever).

    As far as the computer “cheating” stuff on Disney’s part, I was meaning they animate key frames and let computers draw the inbetweens (key framing? I’m no expert in the field). I did a quick google search and found a page which lists a bunch of the proprietary (I assume) software they use when animated, and one called InBetween was one of them.

    Whereas Akira didn’t use this at all.

    I guess the other thing is I find the actual drawings of the characters and vehicles and stuff a lot more detailed and complex than most of what you see in the Disney hand animated efforts (not to poo poo them, they are gorgeous).

  25. nabroleon Dynamite

    May 16th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Akira and Fist Of The North Star put me on to the Anime game (along with the Overfiend shit). I fell off though and have no idea what’s dope in Anime now.

    Anybody wanna drop a jewel on me? If so, I’ll peep it.

  26. dna – considering Spielberg also ripped off Uncle Scrooge comics (and admitted as much) for that RAIDERS opening, I must say he has good taste if he also knocked-off Lupin III. Didn’t Europeans back in the day also claim he ripped off Tintin as well?

    So yes Vern, put CAGLIOSTRO in your queue.

  27. Knox Harrington – Summer Wars is a very entertaining, charming movie, Cowboy Bebop is something everyone should see, especially action fans (yes, it’s a TV series, but it’s only 26 episodes, so you’ll be spending a lot less time watching it than you would your The Wire’s and whatnot), FLCL is only 6 episodes and total Liquid Television esque insanity and surrealism with an outstanding soundtrack

  28. Swetooth,

    Keyframe animation is used on the great majority of *modern* animations. Late 80’s and early 90’s Disney animations were not yet key-framed to my knowledge, they were hand-drawn. Key-framing means that the animation is not drawn by hand, it’s done on computer. With vectors. It’s no more frame-based, allowing for smoother motion. Key-framing become more popular in the late 90’s.

    312 colors in palette is pretty meaningless. As is the cinemascope format. They don’t really affect the viewing experience, and are pretty arbitrary reasons on why Akira “re-wrote the rules”.

    Regardless, while Akira as movie format is 24fps, like *all* animation films, it most certainly doesn’t have 24 different frames per seconds, except for some shots. It uses repeated frames all the time. 2’s, 3’s 4’s, etc. To my eyes it’s generally less fluid then the Disney pictures of the era.

    This all doesn’t mean it’s not visually impressive. It is.

    And it’s a preference in style, anyway. I think Totoro is more visually impressive than Akira. But for entirely different reasons.

  29. – nabrolion

    Funny, Akira, Fist of the north star and Overfiend were my introduction as well. The only anime I could get was releases from Manga Entertainment.

    As somebody mentioned, Satoshi Kon was probably the best thing that happened to anime for the last decades. I love all his movies and tv-shows. I`m not into the heavy use of cgi in modern anime, especially backgrounds, but I would highly recommend The Girl who leapt through time, Summer Wars and Wolf Children. It`s girly stuff, though, but great movies.

  30. Cowboy Bebop! I’ve never been a huge anime fan but Bebop is exceptional, love everything about that series.

  31. Dikembe Mutombo

    May 17th, 2013 at 7:52 am

    “And it’s a preference in style, anyway. I think Totoro is more visually impressive than Akira. But for entirely different reasons.”

    what reasons?

  32. Knox Harrington

    May 17th, 2013 at 10:45 am

    There’s just something so serene and beautiful in watching Totoro’s simple, uncluttered imagery. Whenever I watch it, it feels like I’m admiring a painting rather than watching a movie.

  33. I’ve seen a smattering of Anime here and there, and I’m a huge fan of Miyazaki’s stuff. Akira was my introduction to this stuff, and I happen to own in on DVD (although I haven’t watched it in years). The final few lines of the movie always seemed nonsensical to me. It’s the creepy old children who are talking. One says, “But one day maybe…” and another interrupts, saying “Because we have already begun.” What the hell is going on there? I welcome an explanation from any one who has read the manga.

  34. unfortunately I’ve yet to read the manga

  35. – rBatty

    I guess they`re welcoming the next stage of human evolution. Akira is very much a portrayal of an oppressive society, where everybody wants power because they`re afraid (the government, the military, scientists, religious cults, rebels etc). The old kids (and Akira) have been abused by the government, because the government are afraid of them. They are the future of japan, but the government fears their power. Tetsuo has the same power and ends up oppressing others because of his fear. He causes death and mass-destruction, and even tries killing his best friend. When he explodes in pain and confusion in the end, he almost consumes Kaneda, but remembers how much their friendship meant to him and spares him. Tetsuo ends up destroying the oppressive society that traumatized him, but becomes a symbol of forgiveness and love for the next generation; Kaneda and Kay. He creates a society, that doesn`t fear change.

    That`s kinda cute, but a pretty weird subtext for a country, that caused death and mass destruction during WW2 because they feared change, and ended up getting nuked by their enemies.

  36. Darth Irritable

    May 17th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    How about the anime Crying Freeman to contrast with the Dacascos one?

  37. TEKKON KINKREET’s pretty great as well, although that, too, dips into somewhat wishy-washy symbolism at the very end. Up to then, though, it’s this loose, segmented tale of two orphan kids having turf wars with yakuza and alien interlopers who’re trying to build a theme park in the kids’ old-school neighbourhood. That may sound ever so slightly asinine, but it’s staged very stylishly and with a great deal of reflective mood. In terms of presentation, CITY OF GOD’s a definite influence, and if you don’t generally like the anime aesthetic, well, this one doesn’t really have it. It may not be everybody’s favourite, but I love the thing.

    Also worth checking out: SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, from the creator of Cowboy Bebop. It’s not quite as good, but it DOES have Hip-Hop Samurai and break-dance swordfights.

    As for Akira – I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but I remember disliking if for some reason. At the time, it felt very inert to me…maybe I should rewatch it. I always preferred Ghost in the Shell.

  38. To this day, Tetsuo’s mutation at the end is among the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen. Maximum body horror.

    I find that almost all my favorite anime stuff is series, and I almost always dislike the films. I wonder if Griff concurs or not.

  39. “I find that almost all my favorite anime stuff is series, and I almost always dislike the films. I wonder if Griff concurs or not.”

    actually, I like anime films a lot because the animation tends to be very, very high quality, but my favorite animes are mostly tv series

    honestly, I would consider them to be equal

  40. so fellas, does anybody want to continue to discuss the animes with me? I got two topics that might foster discussion

    1. what’s your favorite Satoshi Kon work? my personal favorite thing of his is Paranoia Agent, which is to him what Twin Peaks is to David Lynch, that is to say a TV series that perfectly encapsulates a director’s style and motifs, but if I’m limiting it to his movies that’s pretty hard, Perfect Blue is excellent, but Paprika has stunning visuals, though there really isn’t much going on with the story, it’s basically all about the visuals

    I’d rank Tokyo Godfathers last though, I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, it’s perfectly fine for what it is, it’s just that a heartwarming comedy doesn’t really fit his style, but it is interesting that he decided to branch out

    2. does anyone else miss the anime boom years? that brief but glorious period of time in which anime was steadily gaining popularity, actually selling dvds and was seemingly considered “hip”? the peak of it was about from 2003 to 2008, I would say, it was basically kicked off by Miyazaki winning the Oscar I think, but by the end of the 2000’s and the start of this decade it was totally, utterly dead

    it all seems so unbelievable in hindsight, like a dream almost, considering how far removed the modern world is from it, nothing like that could ever happen again I don’t think (though I’d love to be proven wrong), it seemed like it was everywhere for a while, there was lots of it on TV, I remember the now extinct chain of stores Media Play (anyone remember those?) even had an entire section of the store devoted to anime, with more anime dvds then I’ve ever seen in my life all in one place (it was fucking glorious), there was even a defunct video game magazine I used to read that had a page of the magazine devoted to anime, which would seem totally, utterly crazy today (I mean imagine Gameinformer having that), but it made perfect sense at the time (and speaking of magazines there used to be a lot more magazines devoted to anime then then there are now, I think there’s only one left maybe?)

    then it all just started to…..fade away, one company after another shut it doors and it gradually faded from the public spotlight, anime is kind of back where it was in the 90’s, that is to say it still has a devoted following, but it’s totally underground now, any flirtations with mainstream appeal are dead

    I have a pet theory for one reason why it may have happened, it seems like every so often American gains a fascination with a foreign country, the country in question becomes cool, it all started I guess in the 60’s with the British Invasion (The Beatles etc), then in the 80’s you had fascination with Australia (Livin’ in a Land Down Under, Crocodile Dundee, Mad Max), in the 90’s it seems like America was fascinated with Celtic culture, both Scottish and Irish (The Cranberries, Braveheart, River Dance)

    and finally, in the 2000’s it was Japan’s turn, America had gotten over seeing them as economic rivals and instead saw them as cool (The Last Samurai is one example of this, as is all the J Horror remakes like The Ring) and it just so happened that there was already a following for something Japanese in America, anime, which got a boost from this general Japanese hipness

    but it’s over now (the last J Horror remakes for example were all released in 2008), America is too self centered these days, there’s just no room for appreciation of another country in the age of Kim Kardashian, Twitter and Facebook, Americans are fascinated with America itself now

  41. Griff – Honestly I think the popular stereotype of anime with the tentacle raping kept it from getting further mainstream acceptance.

    Not to mention that perhaps the kids/nerds abandoned the anime in favor of something else.

    What was it? Comic book movies? Twilight? I don’t know.

  42. anime is the Rodney Dangerfield of nerd culture, no respect! no respect at all!

  43. I think you’re right, there probably was a large exodus of fans also

    maybe you could blame Naruto? that show was so big while also being so terrible that it could have simply left a bad taste in a lot people’s mouths for the medium in general

  44. well, I just got through re-watching Akira in HD and fucking WOW is this amazing looking, plus I had forgotten a lot more about it than I thought I did (granted it’s probably been close to a decade since I last saw it), that coupled with seeing it in it’s full HD glory was almost like seeing it for the first time again

    however, I can’t help but find the ending a little anti-climatic, from what I understand the movie only really adapts the first half of the manga, this is the way it is often times in the anime world, the anime is just meant to be your introduction, if you want the full story you gotta read the manga, but it’s especially disappointing in this case, you’re just left asking “what happens next?”

    it begs the question, why did they never make a sequel? it reminds me of Steamboy where they tease you about a potential sequel over the end credits and then leave you hanging

  45. Hey, Happy Birthday, Griff! (I just believe geoffrey.)

  46. Yay! Thanks a lot guys.

  47. Happy birthday Griff!

    Like Doc Brown once said: “…make it a good one!”

  48. Holy fuck Griff you conquered another year. Congrats!

  49. congrats Griff on taking another annual step towards becoming a miserable old fuck like the rest of us.

  50. Happy birthday, Griff. I wish you all the anime boobs.

  51. I don’t know why everyone is wishing Griff a happy birthday on this four year old film review.

    So I will just sit here and let it happen.

  52. I guess because it’s anime and I’m the resident anime nerd?

  53. Happy Birthday, Griff! You 30 yet? If not, hurry up and get 30. You’re making me feel old.

  54. I’m 28, so getting dangerously close to 30, which kinda freaks me out.

  55. Pfff, 30 is nothing. When you are in your mid-30s, like me, then you can start to freak out. (Advice: Try to make your life as good as possible, so that you don’t really have a reason to freak out. [Disclaimer: I know that making your life good isn’t as easy as in the movies. Otherwise they wouldn’t make so many movies about people who aren’t happy with their life.])

  56. I am close to forty now and start to feel the age. Not that much, but definitely noticeable from my mid-twenties to thirties when I felt like I was still fourteen. All spry and shit. Now I start to realize how more important excersise is.

    But nonetheleess. belated happy birthday, Griff.

  57. 28 is where you should really become mindful of the decisions you make. The mistakes I made at that age are still ones that I am paying for dearly to this very day at 34.

  58. When you’re my age you realize that there are no rules to this shit. I found early on that there’s a way to balance the married with children, bill paying, boring grown up with the movie and rock music loving, beer drinking, t-shirt and jeans wearing, no good punk. It’s the road TO the end that matters. Thankfully my wife is of the same opinion, otherwise my project would have crashed to the ground.

  59. Oh no, now they’ve got poor Taika Waititi “in talks” for the live-action version of this shit. Run, Taika! Run like you’re being pursued by a psychic flesh-blob!

  60. Kaneda: “No, this shouldn’t even be a conversation anymore! We took out the last 50 directors attached to this thing! We prevented live action Hollywood AKIRA!!

    Kei (from the future for some reason): “You only postponed it. Live action Hollywood AKIRA is inevitable.

    Kaneda: Tetsuuuuuuoooo!!

  61. So…you guys think this will happen before or after the NEUROMANCER movie?

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