Last year, animated TV show "The Simpsons" spoofed the films of director Hayao Miyazaki. This spring, bootleg Bart Simpson T-shirts line the boutiques of Harajuku.

There's a weird symbiosis between Japanese pop culture and America's longest-running TV family, a force strong enough to attract more than 500 artists to the "Bartkira" project.

"Bartkira," an online art initiative, launched in 2013 with the aim of redrawing all 2,146 pages of Katsuhiro Otomo's post-apocalyptic manga "Akira" using characters from "The Simpsons." Bart becomes brash gang leader Kaneda, his buddy Milhouse is human experiment Tetsuo, and the boys' skateboards replace the futuristic motorcycles from the manga. Somehow it all works, lashed together by the same strange logic that keeps the 1990s cohesive in retrospect.