Akira: On Telekinesis and Toddlers
You know, Akira reminds me a lot of Chronicle, only with a much higher level of organization and chaos. It sounds contradictory, but it makes sense. I love this movie, so reviewing this will be a treat for both you and me. Unless, of course… one of us is squeamish. I certainly hope not. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart. Blood, partial nudity, harsh language, all very fitting of a post WWIII Japan dystopian setting: Neo-Tokyo.
Akira revolves around the lives of a gang of bikers, the Capsules. The two main bikers are Kaneda, the energetic enthusiastic outgoing leader, and Tetsuo, the never-does-it-right cowardly follower. Due to the military oppression in the city, there is a rebellion brewing that fights for less restrictive law. Due to the incredibly high organized crime rate in the city, the military absolutely refuses to let up. As such, things are pretty shitty for Kaneda’s gang.
Things get even shittier for Tetsuo, who crashes his in a freak incident to avoid hitting a strange little blue boy. To make matters worse and explain a few things, this blue boy is an esper, endowed with the ability to extend his willpower outside his own head. The science organization notices a similar trait in the dying Tetsuo, and decisively abducts him to begin experimentation. While Tetsuo exhibits the abilities of the other espers, he himself is much more hateful and saturated by vengeance. His days of cowardice and failure are over, and Kaneda is the first to notice Tetsuo’s radically altered personality. And, er, telekinetic abilities.
From that point on the primary concern of the military, the science organization, and even the rebellion, is the destruction or containment of the astronomically powerful esper Tetsuo. By interacting with the other espers, Tetsuo has learned of the existence of Akira, the first. Akira’s powers were said to be beyond anything anyone had ever predicted, which was seen by Tetsuo as a challenge. He does find Akira, but not as he was expecting to find him.
It’s around this part that I start to get a little sketchy. Supposedly, Akira’s powers are linked to universal genesis and symbolic and literal birth of matter. As Tetsuo’s madness escalates, so do his telekinetic powers, until a wavelength from him and the other espers brings back the avatar of Akira. At this point, not even satellite lasers can take down Tetsuo, who has begun a fatal physical transformation. He, uh… turns into a giant fetus, hen gets sucked into a psychic singularity. I really don’t know. Kaneda winds up being sucked inside and experiencing Tetsuo’s memories, until finally Akira and the espers collectively close the rift. The resulting carnage tears a hole over half the size of the entire dystopian city.
Akira is a very unusual movie, definitely not one that can be explained with ease. I mean, I think I did a pretty good overview of the plot, but the backstory presented all throughout is a little too intense to take in with one or two views. I’m serious. That said, it is also a landmark in the production of animated Japanese movies, its prestige matched only by its content quality. While it may be a little offensive at more than a few parts, it’s a very earnest movie with a consistent plot and quirky characters. Quirky meaning anything from damningly cheerful to blatantly homicidal. You’ll love it. I did.
Get your copy via whatever means you feel is the most convenient, watch it a few times while pondering just what the hell is going on, suddenly understand it, then go “OOOOOH!” That’s the plan. Enjoy.