Akira came out in 1988 and with it started a new age for the Japanese animation industry. At the time of its release anime was mostly unknown outside Japan but the movie made a huge impact in the west and paved the way for future anime titles. Akira is a gem that is as relevant today, as it was at the time of its release. So let us take a look into what makes Akira the best anime movie of all time.
The story takes place in the year 2019 in the city of Neo-Tokyo. Our protagonists Kaneda and Tetsuo are part of “The Capsules”, a violent biker gang who rides futuristic bikes and engage in bloody street fights. During one such fight, Tetsuo gets in an accident with a psychic kid and acquires psychic powers himself. As Tetsuo suffers from his complex and tries to destroy himself and everything around him, it is up to our other protagonist Kaneda, to save his friend.
Akira the best anime has an engaging story with a spectrum of multifaceted characters. There are kids with superpowers, a group of revolutionaries who want to bring change but also suffer from a hollow foundation, corrupt politicians, mad scientists, and many more.
Every character has a motive behind their actions. It is interesting to watch a movie when so much plot is progressing parallel to one other. The plot is one of the reasons that makes Akira the best anime movie ever.
Is Akira anime same as manga?
Akira anime is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also authored the original manga. The manga started its publication in 1982 in Young magazine and published 6 volumes over the next eight years. The manga was a hit among its audience and was eye-balled for an adaptation before it was even finished. But unlike the manga which was vast and which took over eight years to tell the story, the movie had to be short and therefore a lot of manga content has to be dropped.
In the end, Otomo himself decided to direct and choose what content to keep in the film. The manga never had a lead protagonist, it focused on different characters at a time. The movie’s protagonist Kaneda, was more of a secondary character in the manga was mostly for comic relief but it was a stroke of genius from Otomo’s side as he decided to make Kaneda the main character in the movie.
For the people who wanted to get started with the manga, it is quite different from the movie. It covers plot points and stories that the movie just glossed over. The manga is a spectacle, with amazing art and attention to detail.
The animation quality is one of the reasons that makes Akira the best anime ever. Unlike any other anime, Akira used 24 fps (frames per second) animation. Even modern anime or 2D animation from anywhere around the world use 12 fps. This was a drastic shift from the traditional approach and the result was spectacular. The Animation was fluid and the character motion was much natural. Every hit, every crash, every fall has a weight to it.
This was not the only reason related to animation that made Akira the best anime, artist’s specially created 50 additional colors for nighttime scenes. The action was amazing and beautiful to watch. Akira had its voiceover completed before the animation phase and as a result, the mouth movement feels more natural.
It is amazing how the team drew over 1,60,000 cels without the help of any computers. In some aspects, the animation quality of Akira is even better than a lot of modern anime and it makes Akira the best anime to watch. All of it took a fortune to make. Akira was the most expensive anime at the point and took over 5.5 million dollars to make. Everyone was skeptical when so much money was poured into a project but in the end, it all paid off with its success.
The cultural impact of Akira cannot be understated. Since its release, there are a lot of works that have taken inspiration from it. Even Hollywood movies like The Matrix, Chronicle, Looper, or shows like Stranger Things have clear references for it. Akira also had a huge impact on the anime industry in general. It made the cyberpunk genre popular and because of it, future anime shows had an international market available to them.
The anime not only had a huge impact but it also became a symbol itself. The movie is referenced countless times in different media. A recent example is would be Ready Player One, where Artemis, one of the lead characters had Kaneda’s bike. Even one of the scenes from Akira, where Kaneda’s bike slides sideways, is recreated several times in anime, live-action movies, and even western 2D animations. Every part of this movie holds a place in modern otaku culture.
Akira was not only stylized or visually appealing, but it also tackled a lot of adult themes. It is bloody and violent and was targeted towards an adult audience. It opened the mind of those who saw it and people wanted more of this content. The audience saw themself in Tetsuo, who faced his insecurities. It showed them peace after the destruction and how ugly humanity can be.
And the movie also predicted the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (That almost came true)
It’s been over thirty years since Akira’s release. The movie even released a 4k remaster in 2020. Akira has become much more than the movie. In some sense, it became an ambassador to the medium itself. So tell us in the comments, what according to you think makes Akira the best anime movie of all time.