Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Random Thoughts On Akira (1988)

Because who needs another full write-up of a classic everyone has already written about? Still, I have a handful of jumbled thoughts and ideas to share.

First of all, I'm impressed by how well the film still holds up as an aesthetic whole. A big part of the film's effect on me is the earnestness and relentlessness with which director Katsuhiro Otomo intensifies most of the more exhausting (one could say hysterical) tropes of anime and manga to the brink of the apocalyptic, creating a whole new set of tropes and concepts for later creators of anime to follow.

But what still gets me most isn't actually the apocalyptic, the boyish manliness, the shouting and the explosions, it is Otomo's treatment of silence. Some of Akira's most impressive moments are happening without a sound, at times accompanied by a few notes of the still pretty weird soundtrack, reminding me of the quiet/loud dynamic that was starting to become important in music at about the same time.

Perhaps related to that, perhaps its total opposite, I think, is the director's decision to stuff his film full of telling details, none of them emphasised, all of them just there, until Akira becomes so full of these details that it's more than just a little jarring whenever Otomo actually does emphasise something. A part of this is probably an attempt of Otomo to adapt his much more sprawling manga the whole affair is based on without having to leave out too much of the incidental detail (though large swathes of plot are left out, and the movie's better off that way), but its effect of me as a viewer is still just as confusing, exciting, and exhausting as it was when Akira was shiny and new.


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