Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Akira (1988)

Links: TVTropes, Wikipedia, IMDB (7.9).

#5. Why change the location of a movie whose central theme is how fucked up it is to be Japanese?
I know that sounds disrespectful, but you have to admit that it is, indeed, a pretty fucked up thing to be Japanese. You're confined to an isolated island for the vast majority of your cultural development - an island regularly beset by massive earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and typhoons - and when you eventually do emerge from your isolation, you become the only society to ever have nuclear weaponry deployed against them. Consider all of those factors, and then watch one of those tsunami videos; it's easy to see why so many of their movies seem to think of cities as "those things that just go away sometimes." Akira's imagery relies heavily on this concept of civilization as an impermanent thing: Cities are fragile beings in the movie. They can, and frequently do, dissolve away into nothing right before the character's eyes.
— Cracked.com, "5 Urgent Questions About the Live Action 'Akira' Remake" by Robert Brockway

I finally watched Akira for the first time and, honestly, it seemed overhyped.  Thanks to its art quality, Akira was widely regarded as the film that put anime on the map and helped pave the way for the Western animation renaissance of the 1990s.  That said, the art in Akira is nothing special to someone raised on 1990s animation, which for me leaves the movie to stand on its own.  You can tell that there's a deeper story that's been abridged to condense the manga into a film, but even so the plot is kinda meh, the setting is kinda meh, the characters are rather flat... not a lot here to commend.  There are clearly some allegories here that are lost in cultural translation — see the Cracked quote above — but mostly it boiled down two hours of characters dramatically shouting each others' names.  In short, I'm glad I finally saw it, but I don't think I'll ever get the urge to watch it again.  Score: 2 stars out of 4.

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