This sums up all of Akira, destruction of property, people and society.

In 1988 Akira was animated. Originally a manga by Katsuhiro Otomo, a personal favorite for his work on Memories, a trio of short films stuck together.

Even if you hadn’t heard of him, his work is dark and mature, with occasional comic hints. The plots are intense, usually convoluted seeming-but actually advanced versions of ‘simple’ plots. He’s a great favorite of mine, and as I’m reading the Akira manga right now, which the movie is based off of the first half, it’s a worthy adaptation.

Just so you know, I’ll avoid certain spoilers but run roughshod over the main plot as necessary. It would help if you watch the movie first, so as best to understand certain analyses. To note, the manga is very different in many ways from the Anime movie, but I assure you, it is not in the bad way.  The anime is a creation that summarizes and ends the plot of the manga succinctly, and properly. As there is no second movie (sorta, there’s a new movie in production hell), the movie does a good job in ending properly while not conflicting with the manga too badly.

Character-wise they do an excellent job of defining many characters in a realistic world by voice, actions and how they carry themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did massive research into the motorcycle gangs that plague Japan, apparently. The art style (which is obsessively detailed and intricate) doesn’t allow for the usual way of allowing many different male bodies with just differently styled multi-colored hair and eyes. I would say no named character has the same body design as another and you can recognize them just by how they walk. The military types, the Colonel being the best example, walks straight and quite forcefully, while the biker gangs tend to slouch and have elbows/hands out. Very recognizable and memorable.

Kaneda is a confident and powerful leader of the bike gangs. He walked in a confident manner, and is to me an a chaotic example of two other main male characters: the Colonel and Tetsuo. In such that Kaneda cares deeply about his men like the Colonel and leads them from the front. In Tetsuo is the opposite, Tetsuo treats people like trash and often ignores the damage in favor of the ultimate goal. Kaneda is also a very active person, not content to merely allow things to happen. Throughout the movie/manga he will attempt to strike first then wait for something to happen, completely different from Tetsuo and even the Colonel. I like his character, despite his inward arrogance, he is believable and quite sympathetic.

Tetsuo shares an interesting space. I cannot decide whether he is the real villain. Akira is the most destructive character, pound for pound, but at the same time all he does is nudge Tetsuo along just by existing! But Tetsuo is what I refer to as the ‘driving villain’. It is his actions, forced by his inferiority complexes and inward lack of morals, that makes Akira’s resurrection possible. Tetsuo is a tortured character. He lacks the will of the Colonel and Kaneda and is somewhere along Neutral Evil. He does what he wants according to his main goal, but not so much to be chaotic. His anger and destruction is caused by his inability to deal with his pain and the people who tormented/helped him. He feels affection for the ill-fated Kaori but in the end is a powerless man who’s constantly allowed himself to let circumstance affect him and do nothing but take the most personally gratifying choices. Excellent villain, top notch.

Finally we come to the Colonel, the one adult with a lick of sense. He’s the only man who actually tries to prevent the apocalypse and thousand different things as well as save civilians. His major problem is that he gets hot-headed and loses perspective. While he is a man with a very stressful job, he can’t seem to get a break. Unlike Tetsuo, who creates his own problems, and Kaneda who chooses to face them, the Colonel has to face the problems of others in a permanent fashion. He’s decently honorable, if a bit of a knight Templar. He’s a very loyal and dedicated character and while he does oppose the protagonists several times, he does not merit the title of ‘villain.’ He represents the lawful side of things, incapable of breaking it until the end, he seeks to wield it.

Psychics and the unlocking of human potential are major parts of the story line. The one displayed here is Mashiro. There are many of them, at least 40, but only Takashi, Mashiro and a female seer type I can’t name are important. They are twisted and young individuals, crippled by their powers, they are stuck as children in both mind and body. There is a special place in my heart for loyal psychic enforcers. There is the implication that they serve lesser beings out of some sort of powerful bond, whether drugs or otherwise. They are what I refer to as ‘offscourings’ of Akira. They are connected with him deeply, but at the same time, they are controlled and in opposition to him. He’s a Messiah figure to them but he is a very destructive god.

These people are forced into this terrible ordeal and tragically, Tetsuo falls to the love of power and cannot do anything but be the destructive force bent on Akira. Akira’s mind drives people mad. Kaneda suffers, as does his girfriend Kei who sees the resistance movement die off as she is powerless. The Colonel must watch his city burn and the trio of Psychics are forced to face the god they love and hate: Akira.

You see, Akira is not a real character. He’s a force of nature. By watching the movie you get the feeling that he was a real child, once, but after certain reveals he seems no longer human. Even when seeing him in the flesh he is still unreal. All this fighting… over such a boy? What we see of him is nothing but the fruits of the destruction caused by HIM but not a one stops to think about it. Society accepts that he is a nuclear bomb of sorts and lives with him. In my opinion, society is mad and pretending that there is no boy with the power of a god and there are no suggoths on the roof. and Cthulhu still sleeps in the deep Rylei.

Akira likely represents the destruction of old by new things when it is unchecked. In the last twenty-odd years we have seen unbelievable advances in technology. Old things are passing away like crazy to be replaced by new things of dubious quality and questionable social impact. I am no Neo-Luddite, but even I scratch my head in wonderment of how things change, even year by year. Akira is a ‘god’ in the sense he seems to have no limit to his power and is a law to himself with no thought to consequence. An ubermensch of sorts, but dedicated to motives I cannot comprehend.

Another reason I refer to Akira as a force of nature is that he has no motive. It’s crazy. No great speech, no words. He just shows up and does his thing. It makes him terrifying. Tetsuo and the Colonel both have villainous and violent moments, but they cannot match to the casualness of how Akira does things. And he only shows up for maybe five minutes!? Tetsuo is driven mad by the psychic residue. The Colonel does what he does to keep Akira down. Kaneda is forced to fight his friends and see his world destroyed because of Akira’s passive influence.

Society is a representation of the people/culture combinations that live within it. Most people are content to live their lives, but I would submit that every single person in the know about Akira is in gibbering FEAR of him. It”s the reason why people worship the blighter, despite only having the hints of destruction left in his wake. That big explosion up top? That’s all him and no others.

What’s strange is that this society, Neo-Tokyo, seems to be trying to live their lives just to live. Like dying would just be the end of their breath. They remind me of Mervin Peake’s Gormenghast. They’re caught in tradition, comfortable and safe tradition, but there’s the danger of the NEW. New things are to be shunned and ignored. Though the city is Cyber-punk and very advanced, it is almost like they’re living in a castle. There isn’t anything to do but live or be unlucky enough to die. The only people who fight this are the young, and they’re stamped on too, if they live at all.

I’ve said enough about this. The movie is good and worth watching. I’ve only discussed major themes and I hope that everyone will watch it. Here’s an embed of the movie (english dub is very good) for those who wish to see it now. This version is a little quiet, so please raise your sound a mite more than usual.

In the end, everything is about Akira, and he only does two damned things in the entire movie.