Leni on Akira
I have a morbid curiosity when it comes to post-apocalyptic narratives. Who imagined this future, why does it have these specific elements, what makes it dystopic and for whom? After all, the apocalypse looks different depending on who you ask.
My favorite films are usually those that critique societal, political, and cultural structures and norms, and so it’s perhaps no surprise that cyberpunk in general, and Akira specifically, impacts me deeply.
Akira immediately throws us into this filthy, garbage-infested Neo-Tokyo, mid-action, as we follow along groups of motorbike-riding low-life rivals fighting each other, very much akin to Mad Max: Fury Road. On top of this, the music grips hold of you and doesn’t let you draw a single, deep breath the entire time. But the violence perpetrated in this red-against-black visual landscape points to a deeply unjust and corrupt society – with the undercurrent of revolution. My kryptonite.
It was the decaying cityscape, the impressive animation, and the gut-punching music that grabbed hold of me, but it was the way Akira explores and transgresses the distinct binaries between body and machine, the way it complicates its characters by having them wander the threshold of good and bad, and the way it truly captures deep-rooted, societal and political issues that was present in the 80s and that still prevails today, that made me stay.
To me, Akira is terrifyingly accurate in its prediction of what 2019 might look like. And that is why I love it.