A celebrated classic of Japanese animation, Akira is back in cinemas 23 years after its initial release.
Set in the dystopian city of Neo-Tokyo, 2019, two rival biker gangs create carnage amongst a backdrop of protesting citizens and general civil unrest. When one of them, Tetsuo, comes into contact with a mysterious grey-skinned child, he is abruptly kidnapped by the military. The leader of the gang, Kaneda, makes it his mission to rescue his friend.
The apparent “brand new HD print” is underwhelming, with the visuals not looking as sharp as perhaps we might have hoped for. Vintage, rather than dated, would be an appropriate description. The daunting cityscapes and luminescent light trails are still a joy for the nostalgic amongst us, though non-fans of the genre may find the steam-punk imagery overwhelming.
Rather than the visuals, the highlight of the piece is the superb sound. From the disorientating and creepy heavy-breathing, to the concrete jungle-esque Kaneda’s Theme, the entire film is a feast of brilliant music, a showcase for Shoji Yamashiro’s original soundtrack. Whether or not the audio has been updated for this new release is unclear; regardless, it is as impressive as anything released today.
For fans of animation and Japanese culture, Akira is compulsory viewing. This latest cinematic run offers you a chance to watch it on the big screen, an opportunity that might not come around too often. Non-converts may see Akira as a daunting entry point, but if given a chance it could be hugely rewarding.
Akira will be showing at Broadway Cinema, Broad Street, until the 18th of August.