I distinctly remember watching Akira when I was about 10 years old. First off, Akira was NOT appropriate for a 10-year old kid, but I was hanging out with slightly older kids who wanted to watch it.
Even at that age, I already loved sci-fi, so I remembered liking the movie. Here are my 10-year old impressions of the movie that have stuck with me for the last 25 years:
- Take care of your stuffed animals if you don’t want them crawling after you and NEVER step on them.
- Elder-children have child-like voices and are bad actors.
- Shiny red bikes are cool (my first bicycle was shiny and red).
- When guts fall out of a person, is it really that much??
- Guys with big foreheads look villainous.
- If you flesh-morph, you look like a baby.
- Being crushed alive by growing flesh, doesn’t look very pleasant.
- Don’t disrespect stuffed animals.
Needless to say, I was a child who took care of her stuffed animals, and I still take care of them to this day. Now, here are my present day observations after re-watching it tonight:
The sci-fi genre seems to be lacking in the psychokinesis/psychic powers department. Sure, there’s been shows like Heroes, but even after all these years, Akira‘s take on psychic abilities is still so fresh and original.
I appreciated the bond between Tetsuo and Kaneda as well as the convincing relationship that blossoms between Kaneda and Kei. Akira was truly about what Kaneda does intead of what he says which is to be responsible for his younger orphan brother, even though Kaneda is betrayed by Tetsuo at one point, Kaneda jumps right back into that reliable older brother. Kei is a witness to all of this and totally falls for Kaneda… I buy that.
Amusingly, I noticed some Miyazaki techniques used in Laputa/Castle in the Sky (which I’m sure he stole from someone else), used in Akira. The first is in the very first time we see Tetsuo coming out of the fire and the scene is accentuated by music… does that ring any bells with my readers? It reminded me of when the Laputa robot is in the ocean of fire as it tries to rescue Sheeta.
The second is the usage of silence. Towards the end when Kaneda is sucked into the ‘creation of the universe’ we experience a moment of silence amidst chaos. That reminded me of when Pazu sees a vision of his father as he’s going through the Nest of Dragons before entering Laputa; it’s complete silence amidst chaos as well. FYI, Laputa came out in 1986 and Akira came out in 1988.
My next step will have to be on acquiring/borrowing the Akira comics (Japanese) to delve deeper into the themes presented in Akira. The English dubbed version is available on YouTube and if you want to watch it in Japanese with English subtitles, you’re going to have to dig around a little bit.
- Live-Action Akira: An All-Asian American Dream Cast (thenerdsofcolor.org)