Video Review by Tammy Vrieze

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo
Streamline Pictures, 1989
124 minutes

The year: 2019 AD. Thirty one years have passed since World War III and Neo Tokyo is consumed by terrorist bombings. Rival motorcycle gangs flee the streets hoping to evade riot police. The military searches for answers to the mystery of “Akira”. I search for evidence that World War III occurred in 1988.

Cartoons and motorcycles, two of my favorite past times, have merged together in this month’s video pick, “Akira”. Written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, “Akira” is a very, very long, very, very violent japanimation film. In spite of renting the English language version, I had a hard time understanding this film so do not hold my review as truth.

A teenage boy, Tatsuo, crashes his motorcycle swerving to avoid hitting a little zombie looking kid. The military swoops in and takes Tatsuo and the zombie boy away for testing. When Tatsuo regains consciousness his head is wrapped in bandages and he begins hallucinating. He is able to move objects with his mood swings. As the movie progresses, so do his powers. He starts destroying everything in sight. The film’s only explanation I caught was the army replicated Tatsuo’s aura hoping to solve the mystery of Akira. “HUH?!?!?” Tatsuo looks nothing like the three zombie prophet children who possess similar powers.

I’m going to go out on a major limb here and guess that Akira is supposed to be some sort of Japanese God. They say “Akira has achieved pure energy. A human achieves a lot in a lifetime. Their knowledge and energy stems from Akira… a life force that exists within them.” Immediately following that statement they say world order was disturbed when an amoeba was transfused with the power of a human being through experimentation. At times they imply that Tatsuo is Akira. Other times, Akira is labeled on a bunch of liquid vials. You got me.

I wanted to like this movie. Again, motorcycles and cartoons. But I didn’t. “Akira” was a never ending story that made no sense to me. Daring to sound sexist, this is one for the boys. There were plenty of fast bikes. The “ultimate” futuristic bike was described as having a ceramic double rotor, two wheel drive, computer control anti-lock brakes and 12000 RPMs. Is this the best they could come up with.


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