The Velvet Café

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Challenged by Akira

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akiraAs a movie watcher it’s easy to fall into habits. We don’t want to spend our time and money on films that we hate, so most of our picks come from familiar territory. Better safe than sorry.

It takes a little push from the outside for us to get out of the circle. This month a group of Swedish movie bloggers and podcasters decided to do this, so we gave each other a challenge.

My secret challenge came from Markus at the movie podcast Har du inte sett den?. After making an investigation of my blog, he came to the conclusion that the café suffered from an anime deficiency. So he gave me the task to watch Akira, a cyberpunk action film that depicts a dystopian version of Tokyo in 2019.

At loss about the plot
As for the plot of this film I’m honestly a little bit at a loss. I thought I had it for a while, but over the course of the two hour long movie I lost it somewhere. I found this description at IMDb that wraps it up pretty well:

“Kaneda is a bike gang leader whose close friend Tetsuo gets involved in a government secret project known as Akira. On his way to save Tetsuo, Kaneda runs into a group of anti-government activists, greedy politicians, irresponsible scientists and a powerful military leader. The confrontation sparks off Tetsuo’s supernatural power leading to bloody death, a coup attempt and the final battle in Tokyo Olympiad where Akira’s secrets were buried 30 years ago”.

Wikipedia has a more detailed version, which made me nod as I read it: “Oh, right, that’s what happened? Sounds cool!”

Recommended for the visuals
Frankly I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch Akira for the story. Apparently it’s based on a 2000 page manga tale. I can imagine that it’s clear enough for someone who is familiar with the source material, but to me it could as well have been randomly chosen pictures from the comics that they had put together without putting a lot of thought into it.

This sounds terrible, but actually I would wholeheartedly recommend Akira, but only because of the visuals. They are outstanding, especially considering that it’s 25 years old.

I loved the dark, shadowy Tokyo, one of the best dystopian cities I’ve seen on screen. I loved the crazy bike rides and the skyscrapers that fell apart, were put together and then fell apart again. And as much as they freaked me out, I loved the creepy giant toys and the human bodies that were transformed into monsters beyond any description. The final 30 minutes of explosions and psychedelic patterns had a level of imagination and surrealism that could compete with 2011: A Space Odyssey.

There was one thing that bugged me. All the way through the film the characters kept shouting each other’s names loudly:  “Kaneda!” “Kaneda!” ”Tetsuo!” ”Kaneda!!!!” ”Tetsuo!!”, “KANEDA!” Over and over and over again. Once you start thinking about it, it grows on you and becomes like Chinese water torture, you’re just waiting for the next one to come.

But despite this hang-up about name call-outs and despite the fact that I had no idea of what was going on most of the, I thoroughly enjoyed this outing to a place where I haven’t been before. I definitely should do more of those.

Akira (Katsuhiro Ohtomo, JA 1988) My rating : 4/5


filmspanarnaAnd for those of you who understand Swedish: here are the challenge posts by my fellow bloggers in the network Filmspanarna:

Johan & Markus
Moving Landscapes
Except fear
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord
Movies Noir
Mode och film
Fripps filmrevyer
Fiffis filmtajm

Written by Jessica

September 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Akira, Filmspanarna