AKIRA
A film by Katsuhiro Otomo
Written by Katsuhiro Otomo and Izo Hashimoto
Based on the manga, Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo
TECHNOLOGY 

& PROTEST
GROUP PRESENTATION
Morgan Nicholson

Introduction, Overview

Aaron Martin

Perspectives, Film Clip

Sean Larkin

Perspecti...
INTRODUCTION
Released in 1988, Akira is a Japanese animated film set in
the post-war dystopia of Neo Tokyo in the year 2019, 31
years a...
OVERVIEW
Neo Tokyo is in a state of social unrest, the government is
privately conducting human experimentation. The story
begins w...
Kaneda attempts to save his best friend from the corrupt
government, eventually joining a group of revolutionaries
intent ...
THEMES

& PERSPECTIVES
SCIENCE

& TECHNOLOGY
In Akira, misused science causes the complete collapse of
Tokyo. Twice. This cause is a government funded, top secret
prog...
The Esper program demonstrates a brazen lack of ethical
regard for human life. Tetsuo is kidnapped due to his
potential as...
Akira presents a grim solution to the overreaching of
humanity: societal collapse. In the end, Tokyo’s grand
restructuring...
ORDER VS. 

FREEDOM
Neo Tokyo is no utopian future. During the opening scenes
of the film we see rows of police in riot gear against the
crowd...
The situation in Neo Tokyo has gotten so bad that at least
one resistance group seeks to topple the entire system.
Further...
Film Clip - External Link
HERO VS. 

ANTIHERO
Few characters in the film fall into the traditional hero/
villain archetypes. Kaneda, the ‘hero’, is a bosozoku biker
lea...
Tetsuo, after a life of being the underdog, becomes
psychotic when he obtains power, though he eventually
loses the abilit...
The result of such complex characters is that no single
person feels “in the right.” Dr. Onishi lacks ethics in his
resear...
CULTURAL CONTEXT
At the time of Akira's creation, Japan is still reeling from
the trauma of the nuclear end to WWII. This apocalyptic
backd...
The film’s depiction of the schizophrenic nature of Neo
Tokyo’s leadership and social unrest acts as commentary on
this cu...
DUBIOUS PROGRESS
Throughout Akira we see a questioning of the validity of
'modern progress' at the cost of humanities integrity. The
Esper ...
The Akira cult in the film is itself a play on the apocalyptic
Aum cult of that time that fomented the unrest of the
youth...
WORKS CITED
Napier, Susan J. “Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to
Akira.” Journal of Japanese Studies, ...
AKIRA
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
Akira (Technology & Protest)
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Akira (Technology & Protest)

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Akira (Technology & Protest)

  1. 1. AKIRA
  2. 2. A film by Katsuhiro Otomo Written by Katsuhiro Otomo and Izo Hashimoto Based on the manga, Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo
  3. 3. TECHNOLOGY 
 & PROTEST
  4. 4. GROUP PRESENTATION Morgan Nicholson Introduction, Overview Aaron Martin Perspectives, Film Clip Sean Larkin Perspectives, Questions Ommie Gonzales Presentation Design
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION
  6. 6. Released in 1988, Akira is a Japanese animated film set in the post-war dystopia of Neo Tokyo in the year 2019, 31 years after WWIII, which saw the destruction of Tokyo byway of an atomic explosion. The film greatly condenses the source material, altering the story to focus on the struggle between the protagonists, Shotaro Kaneda and Tetsuo Shima, childhood friends and members of a biker gang called the Capsules.
  7. 7. OVERVIEW
  8. 8. Neo Tokyo is in a state of social unrest, the government is privately conducting human experimentation. The story begins with the Capsules provoking a rival gang into a biker brawl, at which Tetsuo comes in contact with an Esper, Takashi, causing him to crash his bike. Seriously injured, Tetsuo, along with Takashi, is abducted into the government program where scientists discover Tetsuo’s powers resemble Akira’s in potential.
  9. 9. Kaneda attempts to save his best friend from the corrupt government, eventually joining a group of revolutionaries intent on breaking into the Esper’s compound. Meanwhile, Tetsuo’s abilities continue to grow and he escapes from the compound intent on meeting Akira, the powerful Esper that led to Tokyo’s destruction 31 years earlier. The film comes to an unforgettable climax in which Tetsuo’s total loss of control leads to the destruction of Neo Tokyo.
  10. 10. THEMES
 & PERSPECTIVES
  11. 11. SCIENCE
 & TECHNOLOGY
  12. 12. In Akira, misused science causes the complete collapse of Tokyo. Twice. This cause is a government funded, top secret program experimenting on children to create “Espers,” powerful individuals who can read thoughts, see events miles away, or move items with their mind. Even more disturbing, the program is operated by an unscrupulous scientist named Dr. Onishi, and overseen by a ruthless army colonel named Shikishima.
  13. 13. The Esper program demonstrates a brazen lack of ethical regard for human life. Tetsuo is kidnapped due to his potential as an Esper. It is clear Dr. Onishi and Col. Shikishima plan to weaponize him just like the others. No mention is ever made of the Espers as children with human needs—they are tools to be used. In one telling moment, Masaru, an Esper, tells the escaping Takashi, “You can’t run away… we aren’t meant to exist in the outside world.”
  14. 14. Akira presents a grim solution to the overreaching of humanity: societal collapse. In the end, Tokyo’s grand restructuring failed catastrophically at the hands of its greatest experiment, Tetsuo. If its leaders had veered away from their acts of hubris, would this crisis have been averted? The dangers of unchecked ambition exist in our world as well, shown in what we see daily of corporate greed, unethical science, and general disregard for human life.
  15. 15. ORDER VS. 
 FREEDOM
  16. 16. Neo Tokyo is no utopian future. During the opening scenes of the film we see rows of police in riot gear against the crowd while a news anchor reports that the student protest has descended into violence. Later, a religious demonstration is dispersed by paramilitaries. Those that stand against the regime are detained, beaten, or worse. The film warns of a future where Japanese cultural ideals of honor and harmony have given way to fascism.
  17. 17. The situation in Neo Tokyo has gotten so bad that at least one resistance group seeks to topple the entire system. Furthermore, in the wake of Tetsuo’s telekinetic rampage, the religious cult grows in audacity as they celebrate the coming of Akira. The struggle between the people of Neo Tokyo and their authoritarian government grounds the film’s sci-fi themes in a world the audience can recognize, a world that resembles our own. This could be us.
  18. 18. Film Clip - External Link
  19. 19. HERO VS. 
 ANTIHERO
  20. 20. Few characters in the film fall into the traditional hero/ villain archetypes. Kaneda, the ‘hero’, is a bosozoku biker leader willing to kill other bikers that mess with his crew. Col. Shikishima, the antagonist, questions the very program he oversees and deplores the chaos his government has created telling the Council, “Open your eyes and look at the big picture. You’re all puppets of corrupt politicians and capitalists… it’s utterly pointless to fight each other.”
  21. 21. Tetsuo, after a life of being the underdog, becomes psychotic when he obtains power, though he eventually loses the ability to control this power which results in untold destruction. Still he idolizes and envies Kaneda: “You’ve always been a pain in the ass, y’know. You’ve been telling me what to do since we were kids. You always treat me like a kid. You always show up and start bossing me around, and don’t you deny it!”
  22. 22. The result of such complex characters is that no single person feels “in the right.” Dr. Onishi lacks ethics in his research, Col. Shikishima abuses his power, the government evacuates at the first sign of disaster, even Kaneda can’t escape the conflict without blood on his hands. When it’s all over there is no winner in the struggle for the future of Neo Tokyo. There are plenty of losers, most notably the countless civilian casualties resulting from the struggle.
  23. 23. CULTURAL CONTEXT
  24. 24. At the time of Akira's creation, Japan is still reeling from the trauma of the nuclear end to WWII. This apocalyptic backdrop of the monstrous extremes of human progress and striving colors the cynical projections of humanities’ near future. At the same time, Japan is engaged in a haphazard evolution from the 'classical' Japanese culture of honor and tradition to a more 'modernized' culture of business and economic status.
  25. 25. The film’s depiction of the schizophrenic nature of Neo Tokyo’s leadership and social unrest acts as commentary on this cultural confusion. From the bureaucratic mess of the Council to the strife between the Colonel and Dr. Onishi, leadership and authority are neither cogent nor effective. This struggle for power and control engenders a society where violence and dereliction are normative. The Capsules exemplify much of this through their experiences.
  26. 26. DUBIOUS PROGRESS
  27. 27. Throughout Akira we see a questioning of the validity of 'modern progress' at the cost of humanities integrity. The Esper program's experimentation on children to realize human potential manifests Akira's 'transcendental awakening' and destruction of Tokyo. The influx of 'western' business ethos corrupts the political/civic process. Even the advanced technology present is used to exploit and destroy rather than support and create.
  28. 28. The Akira cult in the film is itself a play on the apocalyptic Aum cult of that time that fomented the unrest of the youth into a terrorist prone cult. The cult of ‘Lord Akira’ as harbinger of moral cleansing and the Esper program’s grasp at ‘the power of God’ are equally disillusion in goal though dubiously prophetic in result. In our striving for the 'next stage' or 'the answer' the film suggests that we can lose ourselves, and each other along the way.
  29. 29. WORKS CITED
  30. 30. Napier, Susan J. “Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira.” Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp. 327–351. The Society for Japanese Studies. http://www.jstor.org/stable/132643 Napier. “When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ and ‘Serial Experiments Lain’, Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3, Japanese Science Fiction (Nov., 2002), pp. 418–435. SF-TH Inc. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241108 Tadashi, Uchino. “Images of Armageddon: Japan’s 1980s Theatre Culture.” TDR, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 85–96. The MIT Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1146820
  31. 31. AKIRA

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