This film depicts Japan in 2019, after an apocalyptic event that has left society in ruins. It is a stellar example of Japanese anime that has stood the test of time. It is hand-drawn, unlike, say, "Toy Story" and "Shrek," so it has a unique look and feel.
"Akira" (1988) is about a a Japanese biker gang. That is a popular topic in Japanese anime, starting with 1980's "Crazy Thunder Road." It may have something to do with Mel Gibson's "Mad Max" series that began around that time. Directed by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, along with screenwriting help from Izo Hashimoto, it tells the tale of the "Capsules," a biker gang led by Shotaro Kaneda. The gang battles a rival gang, "The Clowns.' The Capsules encounter a child with special powers who has run away from a top-secret military installation. The remainder of the film follows the gang's adventures in fighting the government operation and freeing dissidents.
It turns out that several people develop psychic abilities during the course of "Akira," and that leads to all sorts of complications. There are mystical and supernatural effects of all this, altering human destiny and the fate of the universe.
Akira himself is a small boy who developed god-like psychic powers as a result of government experiments. Problems with controlling that power is what led to the destruction of Tokyo. Ultimately, he was dissected and placed in a cryonic chamber for later investigation.
Tetsuo is Kaneda's best friend. However, he deeply resents Kaneda. Eventually, he develops his own psychic powers and battles Kaneda for control of the gang. He has trouble controlling his power (as Akira before him did) and this eventually leads him on his own bizarre adventure.
This is quality hand-drawn animation. In Japan, it has a reputation similar to Disney's classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," though it is relatively unknown in the United States except among Asians and afficionados. People "in the know" speak of this film with reverence.
|Akira live-action movie motorcycle|
Plans to make and release a live-action version come and go. As of this writing, they appear to be dead. Casting is very political, because many expect only Asian voice actors to be used in such a respected tale, but that generally isn't the way that Hollywood operates. This insistence by some may be what keeps the live-action version from appearing, though other factors undoubtedly are involved as well.
Highly recommended for those who like this type of film and want to learn more about truly great animation.