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Akira

Akira is a 1988 Japanese animated post-apocalyptic cyberpunk action film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, produced by Ryōhei Suzuki and Shunzō Katō, and written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto, based on Otomo's 1982 manga of the same name. The film had a production budget of ¥700 million ($5.5 million), making it the most expensive anime film at the time (until it was surpassed a year later by Kiki's Delivery Service).

Set in a dystopian 2019, Akira tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amid chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo. While most of the character designs and settings were adapted from the manga, the plot differs considerably and does not include much of the last half of the manga. The soundtrack, which draws heavily from traditional Indonesian gamelan as well as Japanese noh music, was composed by Shōji Yamashiro and performed by Geinoh Yamashirogumi.

Akira premiered in Japan on July 16, 1988, where it was distributed by Toho; it was released the following year in the United States by Streamline Pictures. It garnered an international cult following after various theatrical and VHS releases, eventually earning over $80 million worldwide in home video sales. It is widely regarded by critics as one of the greatest animated and science fiction films ever made, as well as a landmark in Japanese animation. It is also a pivotal film in the cyberpunk genre, particularly the Japanese cyberpunk subgenre, as well as adult animation. The film had a significant impact on popular culture worldwide, paving the way for the growth of anime and Japanese popular culture in the Western world as well as influencing numerous works in animation, comics, film, music, television and video games.

Plot[]

In 2019, following a world war, Neo-Tokyo is plagued by corruption, anti-government protests, terrorism, and gang violence. During a violent protest, the hot-headed Shōtarō Kaneda leads his vigilante bōsōzoku gang, the Capsules, against the rival Clown gang. Kaneda's best friend Tetsuo Shima inadvertently crashes his motorcycle into Takashi, an esper who escaped from a government laboratory with the aid of a resistance organization. Assisted by fellow esper Masaru, Japan Self-Defense Forces Colonel Shikishima recaptures Takashi, takes Tetsuo away, and arrests the Capsules. While being interrogated by the police, Kaneda meets Kei, an activist within the resistance movement, and tricks the authorities into releasing her and his gang.

At a secret government facility, Shikishima and his head of research Doctor Ōnishi discover that Tetsuo possesses powerful psychic abilities similar to Akira, the esper responsible for the singularity that destroyed Tokyo in 1988. Esper Kiyoko forewarns Shikishima of Neo-Tokyo's impending destruction, but the city's parliament dismisses Shikishima's concerns, leading him to consider killing Tetsuo to prevent another cataclysm. Meanwhile, Tetsuo escapes from the hospital, steals Kaneda's motorcycle, and prepares to run away from Neo-Tokyo with his girlfriend Kaori, but they are ambushed by the Clowns. The Capsules save Tetsuo and Kaori, but Tetsuo begins suffering intense headaches and hallucinations and is taken back to the hospital.

After overhearing their plan to rescue Tetsuo and the other espers, Kaneda joins Kei's resistance cell. At the hospital, the espers try to assassinate Tetsuo via hallucinations, but the attempt is thwarted. He then searches for them in a fit of rage, easily killing any orderlies and militiamen blocking his path. The resistance group infiltrates the hospital, and Kiyoko draws Kei and Kaneda into Shikishima and the espers' futile attempts to stop Tetsuo. Kiyoko tells Tetsuo that Akira, located in cryonic storage beneath the Olympic Stadium's construction site, could help Tetsuo with his powers. After rejecting everyone around him, especially Kaneda, Tetsuo escapes the hospital and hunts for Akira.

Kei, used by Kiyoko as a medium to stop Tetsuo, breaks her and Kaneda out of military custody. Shikishima stages a coup d'état against Neo-Tokyo's government and directs all of its military forces to destroy Tetsuo at any cost. At the Capsules' former hangout Harukiya Bar, Tetsuo confronts gangmates Yamagata and Kai over Kaneda's bike and kills Yamagata after his protest. Kai relays the news to Kaneda, who vows to avenge his friend, while Takashi brings Kei away. Tetsuo, mistaken for Akira by cultists, rampages through Neo-Tokyo, arriving at Akira's cryogenic storage dewar under the stadium. Kei fights Tetsuo, but he defeats her and exhumes Akira, only to find that his remains have been sealed in jars for scientific research.

Kaneda duels Tetsuo with a laser rifle, and Shikishima fires an orbital weapon at him. While the latter destroys his arm, neither is able to stop him. Shikishima and Kaori approach the stadium, where Tetsuo, now with a robotic arm, is in great pain and losing control over his powers. Kaori attempts to restrain Tetsuo while Shikishima offers to return him to the hospital, heal his injuries, and help control his abilities. Kaneda arrives and continues his duel with Tetsuo who, weakened from the missing arm, mutates into a gigantic mass of flesh, engulfing Kaneda and killing Kaori. As the mass grows, Akira awakens to create a singularity, drawing Tetsuo and Kaneda into another dimension. After teleporting Shikishima to a safe distance, the espers agree to rescue Kaneda, knowing that they will not be able to return to Neo-Tokyo.

In the singularity, Kaneda experiences Tetsuo and the espers' childhoods, including his and Tetsuo's friendship and the espers' psychic training before Tokyo's destruction. The espers return Kaneda to Neo-Tokyo, informing him that Akira will take Tetsuo to safety and that Kei is developing psychic powers. After witnessing the birth of a universe, Ōnishi's laboratory crushes him to death. After consuming most of Neo-Tokyo, the singularity disappears and water floods the crater left in its place. Kaneda, mourning the loss of Tetsuo, discovers that Kei and Kai have survived, and they ride off into the ruins while Shikishima watches the sunrise. Tetsuo humbly introduces himself at another unspecified plane of life and triggers the creation of a universe, transcending the limitations of human existence.

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