“Do Kaneda’s futile efforts actually work for Tetsuo?”
In the last 30 years, there have been countless anime efforts that have tried to capture the imagination of millions. The Dragon Ball series, the acts of Naruto Uzumaki and the card-wielding calibre of Yugi Moto have all stood the test of time…..whilst some haven’t.(cough)Digimon.(cough) These are three of many that have drawn in their audiences for several sagas. So what is this,”Akira”? Honestly, I didn’t want to give it a chance either. But when I did, I was surprised. Shocked, even, that I had only just seen just over two-and-a-half hours of some of the greatest visual scenes to ever grace cinema. Akira is not simply a film; it is an interesting insight into the concept of human potential, of genetic modification and engineering and finally that of friendship. The 18 certificate will be enough to put off parents trying to shield their children’s innocent eyes from very strong language and violence, but for those old enough to watch it, I would recommend it.
Although the eponymous character of the film does not show up until the last 20-25 minutes, it is still a marvel of cinematic quality. In the first few minutes, a ball of light encompasses an entire country. But who is to blame? Why are a gang of kids riding recklessly on high-powered motorcycles on a late night motorway? What’s going on? Well the ball of light destroyed Tokyo and the kids are riding around (completely ignoring the safety regulations like, I don’t know, wearing a helmet) in what is now Neo-Tokyo, a small area created after the great disaster. The main characters are Sho Kaneda, a laid back teenager who has souped up his crimson motorbike to ridiculous levels, and Tetsuo Shima, another teenager who harbours a troubled past in contrastto Kaneda’s. Their subsequent hooliganism thus sets off a chain of events that tests the very limits of their friendship. To mention any more would spoil such a visual masterpiece, but the ending reeks of originality. Kaneda’s cocky and relentless streak is one of the elements that keep the film going; his hormonal attitude is humorous and amusing.
The film is a strength in itself; simply put it will be remembered for the last words of dialogue uttered. The uncertain fate of the characters causes great interest which is another of the driving forces of the films. To see the artwork and consider it old and dated would be a fair observation. The ambiguous ending of the film presents further problems; people have different interpretations of what actually happens. In truth, the ending is not clear. But the fact that the storytelling is exceptionally crafted makes up for this. Akira boasts strong ideas of religion, human limits and the idea of playing God. Such issues cannot be ignored as we get ever closer to the ideas of breaking human capabilities. What Akira has done is shown us what can happen if things go wrong, and it is up to us to learn from those lessons.