I grew up watching a lot of cartoons from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. Doug, Hey Arnold!, Invader Zim, Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life and such. But I never had an appreciation or interest in the animations themselves, or the drawings involved. When it comes to anime/manga, I had no knowledge of it growing up or as an adult up until very recently, except for Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555. Similar to how I became interested in electronic music, one event led to an explosion of rabid interest. That event was receiving Akira Volume 1 from my friend Brandon Sprouse. He explained to me that Akira was THE story to read first, if I wanted to get into mangas. And once I opened that thing up, I was astounded. The detail in the artwork for one doesn’t seem possible, the intricacies are devastatingly impressive. The story is presented in six volumes that completely immerse you in the Neo-Tokyo landscape envisioned by Katsuhiro Otomo, the writer and illustrator. Focusing on isolation, corruption and the destructive elements of power, Otomo weaves these themes into a perfectly realized story.
I won’t give anything else away. You could read synopsises of the volumes on Wikipedia, but you may as well get the film and/or start reading the mangas.
Because Akira, the West was exposed to manga and anime. Along with Blade Runner, these environments laid the foundation for Japanese dystopian works in the late 90’s. When most animes released around the time of Akira presented works with lazy animation details, Otomo’s film burst through with highly advanced animations and meticiously crafted scenes.
- Jimi Jaxon