Director Katsuhiro Ohtomo created a film that has been something of an iconic, even cult film among anime fans. It tells of a secret military project endangering Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychopath that only two kids can stop.
The apocalyptic oeuvre was all the rage in the 1980s, mixing sci-fi with fantasy to reflect something of the dangers of the cold war and threat of global nuclear war. ‘Akira’, set in 2019 and based on Otomo’s serialised comic, utilizes telekinesis and telepathy as the motifs of the future where they are imagined as evolutionary reactions to a de-humanised machine-driven world.
This future doesn't seem to ridiculous – violent street gangs terrorise the city on motorbikes, with the police and the teenagers’ educators having little influence on their behaviour. However, the apocalypse has a human face as first, lead character Tetsuo, and then the resurrected Akira himself, have the power of a nuclear explosion at their fingertips, something the military and government want to curtail.
This iconic film is clearly influenced by Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ (1927) and Blade Runner (1982), has influenced many, been referenced by many more and been deified by critics since its original release 25 years ago.