The Blast and the Furious: Tokyo Rift

Yikes! That pretty much sums up my reaction to “Akira.” This is supposed to be one of the best animes ever?! This is a classic?! Let me roll up my tongue and pick up my jaw off the floor. Because of “Akira,” I’m more convinced that I prefer cartoons, in the Bugs Bunny and Disney tradition. Honestly, if this was the first anime I’ve seen, I would have given up on the whole genre. Luckily, I’ve seen “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke.” This teaches me to stick to Hayao Miyazaki’s films.

“Akira” takes place in Neo Tokyo, 2019 A.D. – thirty-one years after Oldeo Tokyo was atomic bombed into oblivion. The futuristic city shows off a chaotic design, where 1980s grungy look is apparently retro. Civil unrest is causing rifts, the politicians and the military are subtly wrestling for power and the streets are hounded by feuding bike gangs. Among these riding punks are buddies Tetsuo and Kaneda. When the former is taken by the government, the latter seeks him out and tries to save him. It turns out Tetsuo is a very special person, with ties to “Akira,” a powerful force of nature. Much is yet to be learned and three eerie “kids” seems to know what the future holds.

The movie does start nicely with lively action sequences. But when it’s just one scene of destruction after another, the movie gets old fast. Afterwards, “Akira” seems to progress through my list of movie pet peeves. It feels too long. I had to. Keep. Watching it. In short parts. I just couldn’t sit still for long. I only persevered because this is my 1988 entry for Project 25. Otherwise, I would’ve quit.

In terms of plot, it sometimes gets confusing. And for all the intrigue about the force of “Akira,” it didn’t exactly wow me. Maybe I would’ve taken it seriously if the characters aren’t so contrived. For an anime bursting with testosteronish recklessness, I couldn’t believe it has girly moments of cheesy soap opera. I’m referring to the boo-hoo dramatization of Tetsuo, which is criminally so overt and redundant. The character that only seems to work is Kaneda, who comes off as a vital source of laughs in such a morose and apocalyptic setting. What probably pisses me off the most is the overdarwn action. While it’s drawn with some fervent imagination, it is over-done and over-the-top bad. The movie won’t stop until everything onscreen is blasted into smithereens. I don’t know about you – but this looks like the work of someone who has a sickening fantasy of destruction or self-destruction. Now, I have a giddy fantasy of grabbing a couple of dynamites from my ACME kit and chuck them at this movie. I suggest you shove fingers in your ears.

KABOOM!

Grade: D

Screenplay by
Izô Hashimoto
Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Based on the graphic novel by
Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Directed by
Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Rated R contains violence and some profanity
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