In the world of animation there is a name that to many is synonymous with products from the land of the rising sun, that name is Akira.
Adapted from the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira was many a westerners’ introduction to the anime genre. The film’s incredible visuals featured a mixture of dystopian cyberpunk, psychological dream sequences and body horror (especially in the film’s climax), all which were drawn by hand; entranced audiences all around the world and showed what could be accomplished in the medium of animation that would be literally impossible to do justice with live action and CGI. The imagery of Neo Tokyo with the shots of the tall neon skyscrapers to the disgusting underbelly and dirty back alleys were all drawn with meticulous attention to detail which I have rarely ever seen in any modern work of animation.
It precisely the films visuals that defined a generation but it is also a tragedy that this masterpiece is shackled to the words cartoon which in my humble does this film a disservice. Cartoons by definition are a form of animation aimed specifically at children and because of this the majority of the mainstream audiences cannot take animation seriously as a mature form of entertainment (programs like the Simpsons and Family Guy do not change this view as they are comedies). Sometimes I look at programs like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and imagine what they could do with material if they animated it, would it still be as critically acclaimed or would audiences instantly dismiss it on the grounds that it was a “cartoon”.
Films like Akira have shown us animation can tell a very unique and mature story with incredible visuals and I feel that there is an entire industry that we haven’t tapped into.