Continuing my anime/robot theme of the past two weeks I want to talk about the 1988 landmark film Akira. Akira ushered in the second wave of anime fandom to the states. As a die-hard fan of the anime series G-Force, Star Blazers, Robotech, Raydeen and several others, I was a part of that first wave of anime geeks. As entertaining and well crafted as those films were, they could not hold a candle to Akira. Akira’s budget at the time was unprecedented for anime and it was evident on the screen. According to Wikipedia: “Most anime [At the time] is notorious for cutting production corners with limited motion, such as having only the characters’ mouths move while their faces remained static. Akira broke from this trend with detailed scenes, lip-synched dialogue – a first for an anime production – and super-fluid motion as realized in the film’s more than 160,000 animation cels.”
I saw Akira on the big screen in the early 90′s when they were showing it for free at The Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College which I was attending at the time. The theatre is huge seating about 2500 people. I bring this up because when they screened Akira here I thought it would be tough to get tickets. I was surprised to find only a couple dozen folks in the audience. Contrast that with the free screening of New Jack City which filled the theatre and had students scalping tickets. But I digress. Akira was a revolution in anime and has achieved cult status today. You should rent it on Netflix.
There is a live action film in the works by Warner Bros and the Hughes brothers are in negotiations to Direct. Check out the trailer posted below and then the Akira inspired video Stronger by Kanye West. Daft Punk who Kanye samples on Stronger and appear in the video are also huge anime fans. They did an amime film for their Discovery album titled Interstella 5555.