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Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 08/21/1999

In 21st century Neo-Tokyo, an unwilling teenager named Tetsuo is chosen for experimentation by the army. It was theorized that Tetsuo could be the key to the perfection of the mysterious "Akira Project". Tetsuo's latent psychic powers are awakened in the process and all the bitterness he had kept bottled up all his life causes him to lash out. Thus, Tetsuo leaves a bloody trail of mayhem and destruction as he loses control of himself. In the meantime, Tetsuo's friend Kaneda is determined to save Tetsuo at any cost.
I had heard a good number of positive things about Akira way before I got to watch it... but then who hasn't? I'm always skeptical about over-hyped anime, thanks in no small part to my disappointing experience with "Ghost in the Shell". Ghost in the Shell was supposed to be one of the greatest anime ever produced, but it put me to sleep faster than a dose of Valium... and I actually had to watch it thrice before I could finish, much less make sense of the whole thing.
To my surprise, however, Akira actually lives up to the hype surrounding it. Akira had me nailed to my seat the moment I turned the TV on. The plot is very intriguing, and things develop at an exciting pace -- there's a lot of action and interaction. Numerous themes and emotions prevail throughout, and I couldn't help but marvel at the way everything just comes together. The ball keeps rolling, and it's pretty hard to determine exactly who the protagonists and antagonists are at first. Tetsuo is clearly the maligned one, but then he also abuses the power he has for his personal vendetta. His friend Kaneda just wants to help him, and eventually we see that Kaneda is actually the hero in this feature.
The characters are all very much like real people -- from the way they are drawn to the way they talk and act. They are quite harshly drawn as well. There is no sign of soft, fluffy, or cute anywhere. Although there aren't any good-looking characters, I find that the overall visual style suits the film perfectly. The animation quality is superb -- fighting action, high-speed chases, and mass destruction are portrayed with detail, smoothness, and a lot of gusto. All in all, Akira is a first-rate anime -- I only wish that the final parts were more... explanatory.

Be warned that the last part gets very grotesque.

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Review Title:
124 Minutes
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Action, Horror, Military,
Sci-Fi, Supernatural
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