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Anime on DVD Recommends: Akira
Akira... by itself a small word, but this small word has left an indeliblemark on the world of manga and anime. Akira first appeared on 6 December 1982in Young Magazine
. The story was written by Otomo Katsuhiro andrevolved around the aftermath of a massive, unexplained explosion in Tokyo.Otomo's tale ended up spanning over 2,000 pages and garnered a fan base aroundthe world. Animation studio Kodansha approached Otomo in 1986 to make a filmversion of Akira. At the time, the Akira manga had not been completed, but Otomo agreed.Akira's theatrical release was on 16 July 1988, and it quickly acquired a cult status around the world. To this day, Akira remains a fan favorite inanime circles and an essential piece to every anime collection.Otomo had a vision for the film version of Akira; it had to feel like an issueof the manga, and it had to be a film driven by the visuals rather than the characters.The first goal was achieved by carefully storyboarding the film in four volumes, each738 pages long; each storyboard corresponded to a 70 mm film frame. To achieve a "visual" film, Otomo pushed the envelope of animation. A massive staff drew over 150,000 key animation cels. Each cel was incredibly detailed and was hand painted using a palette of 327 different colors, the most used in an animation film at that point. Most of these colors could only be seen on film and not on a television.
The result is a stunning, vibrant Neo-Tokyo. Neo-Tokyo was Otomo's vision of thefuture -- a bustling, massive city teeming with people and filled with lights and neoncolors penetrating the night. The city itself becomes a character in the film asits structure and the people in it affect each other.
If the animator's work gave shape to the body of Neo-Tokyo, the music of thefilm breathes life into it. Otomo wanted the music of the film to reflecthis vision of an "ethnic" Neo-Tokyo. He demanded that thefilm's score be recorded before the animation work begun; to achieve thisgoal, he enlisted the Geinoh Yamshiro Gumi to produce Neo-Tokyo's unique sound.
The Yamashiro Gumi was given six months to work along with free reign to orchestrate the music however they chose. The only requirement was thatthe score be flexible enough to fit the action in the film. The founder of the Yamashiro Gumi believed that the human voice was the ultimate spiritual instrument; he joined hundredsof voices with ethnic instruments from Bali. While Otomo was pushing the technologicalenvelope of animation, the Yamashiro Gumi was doing the same with the score. Using the"sound module method", they built a database of musical units and used theseunits to create the film's score.
Simply put, Akira's score is a masterpiece. It flows throughout the movie seamlessly;at times, it drives the action along in a deep, primal rhythm. At other times, itimbues the film with a somber, spritual tone. With animation and music painting a lushworld, Otomo set out to tell the story of Akira.
The year is 2019, thirty-one years after a mysterious explosion annihilated Tokyo.A group of bikers led by Shotaro Kaneda are battling their rivals, The Clowns, throughthe streets of Neo-Tokyo. One of Kaneda's gang members, Shima Tetsuo, nearly runs overa blue-skinned boy bearing a tattoo of the number 26 on the road. The boy somehow puts up aninvisible barrier that Tetsuo violently crashes into. When Kaneda arrives at the crash site,a government force led by Colonel Shikishima is taking not only the boy but also Tetsuo awayin a helicopter.
What follows is a fast paced, sci-fi adventure. Tetsuo has unwillingly become the nexttest subject in the "Akira Project". The project has awakened psychic powers withinhim. As his powers grow, he is haunted by images of an unknown boy and by the name "Akira". As Tetsuo searches for answers about Akira, Kaneda follows a cute girlnamed Kei and becomes a pawn in a terrorist group's plan to free Tetsuo and the blue-skinnedboy, Takashi, from the project. Who is this mysterious Akira, and how is he and Tetsuo'sgrowing powers related to the explosion that leveled Tokyo?
It is against these events that Otomo tells a very "human" story. The storyis filled with characters that the audience can recognize or identify with. The politicians,military leaders, and scientists involved in the project are only concerned with harnessingmore power for themselves. The terrorists are the wide-eyed, idealists out to change Neo-Tokyo by stopping the corruption in the government. Tetsuo is the runt whofinally achieves the power to become the bully and not the bullied. Each viewing of themovie reveals more insight into the characters and their interaction with each other.
Akira is not only a masterpiece of animation but also a masterpiece of science fiction.The film seamlessly weaves sight, sound, and story into a package that can be enjoyed onmany levels. Akira has endured for fourteen years, and its carefully built world will ensurethat it will endure for years to come.boku wa... Luis Cruz