I watched AKIRA fairly recently with the kid for the first time and he was delightfully blown away. It was an influential movie for me and, to be honest, I was a little worried that it wouldn’t hold up. It had been ages since I watched it and it was the kid’s first time so I wondered if the 22 years since it unspooled in front of my eyes colored my opinion of it.
Turns out it did.
It’s still great and there’s moments that are undeniably cool – FLYING PLATFORMS! – but it is dour and there isn’t any levity and/or joy to be had in there. After a steady diet of evolving pop culture and the guiding narrative hands of Whedon, Pixar, Sorkin and Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan shows that there’s always room for humor. The juxtaposition of levity against tragedy. I imagine the drama masks are always in full view of Joss Whedon when he joyously scribbles down yet ANOTHER death of a beloved character
(that poor dino. why do you do that to me Joss, WHHHHHYYY!?!?!).
My grousing of the movie adaptation aside, AKIRA the manga is 100%, unfiltered perfection. The bike gang, i.e. CHILDREN, are just bratty, lunatic children. The government officials are slippery and stony and the espers are lost and broken, shifting pieces on a board. Otomo does a great job of building a living, breathing, complex world and characters and then he stuffs it all into a meat grinder and tosses the meat grinder into a paint shaker… then out of a moving car. What I’m saying is shit gets (un)real.
If you haven’t read it do yourself a favor and pick up the the collected black and white editions up here (or preferably at your local comic book shop) and get your nerd on. As of July 16th it’s been 26 years since the anime was released in Japan, it’s high time you read what started it all.