Top Ten Films #3: Akira

Akira

This week I’ll be revealing my top ten favourite films, posting one each day with a few paragraphs about what they mean to me. If anyone wishes to share their favourites I’d be happy to hear from you. Today is #3.

3) Akira (1987)

AkiraI have never professed to be a film expert but I would challenge anyone to name me a better animated film than Katsuhiro Otomo’s stunning masterpiece. Based on his epic graphic novel (also worth a look by the way), Akira is set in 2019 AD, 31 years after World War III, and in the heart of Neo Tokyo. While motorcycle gangs bring chaos throughout the streets, protestors are constantly rioting and creating disorder for the police and army. Amidst this internal pandemonium a small branch of the government are at work on a very secret scientific project.

Nearly 25 years old the animation in Akira remains breathtaking with the vast metropolis of Neo Tokyo forming the backdrop to a nervous society controlled by a divided government. However, it is two members of a biker gang that become pivotal to the film and indeed the fate of the entire city. During one motorcycle chase through the city gang leader, Kaneda, loses track of Tetsuo, an outsider in his group who is regarded as weak. In an attempt to prove his worth Tetsuo gets ahead of his gang in pursuit of rival bikers but is involved in a crash trying to avoid a mysterious boy that has wandered into the road. No sooner have Kaneda’s gang come to their friend’s aid than the army appears to retrieve both the boy and the wounded Tetsuo. While Kaneda and his gang are taken to the police station Tetsuo remains in the custody of the government where he is put forward for experimentation – the Akira Project – and is soon given access to incredible powers. When the army fails to control him Tetsuo finds himself out on the streets of Neo Tokyo with the intention of finding the remains of Akira and now with the means to get revenge against those who have wronged him.

Akira’s plot can be complicated but it maintains the intrigue throughout and becomes more dramatic as Tetsuo gradually loses control of his power. The latter stages of the film where Tetsuo wanders through Neo Tokyo and repels all the army’s attempts to stop him are amongst the best scenes in the film. While Tetsuo’s is an extraordinary and devastating journey, Kaneda also has an eventful time. After meeting a girl, Kei, at the police station he is eager to see her again to go on a date but ends up being drawn into her gang of resistance fighters out to uncover the government’s secrets, particularly their experiments. While both the government and resistance are swept aside by Tetsuo, Kaneda and Kei are left to pursue and stop him at all costs.

Akira’s ending is a moving and dramatic one, befitting what has been an epic but thrilling story. Having reached his destination and discovered Akira, Tetsuo is finally overwhelmed by his own power and cannot control his actions. Having had an often bitter friendship in the past, Tetsuo and Kaneda finally come to realise the fondness and respect they have for each other. Kaneda, in particular, comes to look upon his friend in a new light, but it is now too late to save Tetsuo. I’ve been watching Akira since my early teens and its impact on me has not receded as the years have passed. It remains, for me, the finest animated film I’ve ever seen and I very much doubt that will change.

Top Ten Films so far:

3) Akira (1987)

4) Donnie Darko (2001)

5) Withnail and I (1987)

6) Predator (1987)

7) Battle Royale (2000)

8) Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)

9) House of Flying Daggers (2004)

10) Spirited Away (2001)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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