Akira (R)

Action/Adventure 124 March 30, 2001
By Caroline Palmer
Few animated films have stirred as much virulent discussion as this one. Based on Katsuhiro Otomo's best-selling books, Akira (1988) is probably the best-known of all anime productions, but devotees of the Japanese genre argue endlessly over whether that reputation is deserved. Made before the advent of computer-generated animation, the movie at least merits considerable attention, not only for its futuristic look but for its apocalyptic tone as well. Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata) leads a Tokyo motorcycle gang that includes the relatively good-hearted Tetsuo (Nozomu Sasaka), who, after an accident, becomes the subject of a government experiment involving telepathy. Suddenly Tetsuo is raging mad and sets off on a wild path of destruction to find the source of his unnatural powers. His one-man killing spree is terrifying, but Otomo's intent is not to titillate with ultraviolence. Rather, by investigating the betrayal of physical and emotional integrity by a malevolent power, Akira calls up all of the big questions: What is loyalty? Whom can we really trust? What does it mean to be human? Don't expect any pat answers, for Otomo is more interested in leaving us with mysteries than revelations. (Caroline Palmer)
Katsuhiro Ôtomo Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda, Hiroshi Ôtake, Kôichi Kitamura, Michihiro Ikemizu, Yuriko Fuchizaki, Kazumi Tanaka Izou Hashimoto

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