Views from Tokyo: Do you remember the first time you watched ‘Akira’?

by Matt Schley

Contributing Writer

Kentaro Abe
Part-time worker, 24 (Japanese)

I’ve actually never seen the film! But I read the manga about three years ago. I found it in my friend’s house. I felt compelled to read it because the pictures were so different from regular manga — so detailed.

Why do you think it’s still talked about today?

I don’t think there were so many manga 30 years ago with this kind of futuristic story. Plus, the images are so memorable. “Akira” feels very distinct from other manga. I think that’s why it’s so well-liked.

Junpei Morita
Office worker, 38 (Japanese)

Hmm, how old was I when I first saw it? I think when I was in high school. On DVD. I didn’t understand the meaning at all, but I thought, “This is cool!” What was cool exactly? The motorcycles, I guess. The sounds they made when they started up. Since then, I’ve seen it three or four times. I eventually started hearing people use the word “cyberpunk.” I thought, “Ah, so that’s what ‘Akira’ was about.” That said, even re-watching it with that in mind, I still don’t really get it. But it’s just so cool.

Why do you think it’s still talked about today?

I’ve no idea. I’ve heard people from different countries have been influenced by it, but I don’t really get it.

Harumi Ito
Office worker, 37 (Japanese)

Relatively recently. I read the manga first. It was from my generation, but I didn’t read it back then. My friends from abroad talked about how cool it was, so I decided to read it, and it was really interesting. It was strange that I hadn’t known about it earlier. I watched the movie later.

Why do you think it’s still talked about today?

Otomo’s images go beyond what you imagine. When you get to the end of a page, before you turn it, you imagine what’s coming up, right? Instead of what I pictured, there was always something even more mind-blowing. The story’s interesting too, but if the art hadn’t been as good, I don’t think it’d still be as talked about.

William Meerwarth
Student, 22 (American)

The first time I saw “Akira,” I was maybe 16 or 17. I was reading some manga, looking for something to read, and found an old copy of it, and later on eventually found the anime. At the time, I was really into cyberpunk, William Gibson, things like that. “Akira” had a really cool dirty cyberpunk aesthetic to it. It was very gritty and violent.

Why do you think it’s still talked about today?

Even though it’s pretty violent and over-the-top, it does have a message too. It’s just kind of timeless. It’s a unique story, well-told, and the animation has been surpassed by few.

Marko Jankovic
Software engineer, 33 (German)

First impression was “Wow!” I was 7 or 8. The plot went over my head, but I was transfixed by the imagery. I really started to like motorcycles — and be scared of stuffed animals!

Why do you think it’s still talked about today?

Many reasons. There was nothing similar at the time in terms of animation quality, attention to detail, soundtrack. I also think its dystopian topics are more relevant than ever.

I notice you’re wearing the Supreme “Akira” sweater …

When I heard about this collaboration between Katsuhiro Otomo and Supreme, I wanted to show my support for his work. It was difficult to be fast enough to buy it but I got lucky.