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stroker
stroker PowerDork
12/23/23 9:56 p.m.

I'd never seen it until today.  I suggested it for purchase at the local library and they bought a DVD, which I was the first to borrow.  I sat down with my anime-fan daughter anticipating something post-apocalyptically special.  Somebody needs to explain this to me.  There's a cult following of the movie--claims it's arguably the best Anime of all time. 

WTF?

I'm trying really hard to not do spoilers, although I probably don't have much obligation to do so with a movie that's nearly 40 years old.

WTF?

I understand the Japanese story-telling technique isn't "conventional" by Western standards, but I reiterate:

WTF?

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
12/23/23 10:15 p.m.

Weird, right? I was first exposed to it in like 1998. It's been on my radar ever since. Pretty common tropes, really, just well executed. Even the last part with the whole stadium thing has been done multiple times- See another anime called Roujin-Z for an even weirder take. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/23/23 10:22 p.m.

It was pretty groundbreaking for its time and still good today, but the best of all time is a stretch.

WTF? Indeed, that's a totally reasonable reaction. There are metaphors related to puberty and the nuclear bombing of Japan stuffed in there among other things. All into the same storyline. So yeah, WTF. If you're new to anime, be prepared to run into lots more WTF. On the anime WTF scale, Akira is maybe only an 8/10.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/23/23 10:32 p.m.

A-KIR-A.

I first saw it in my friend’s appartment–somehow he had rented a Japanese-language version. No captions. Neither of us speak Japanese. This was 1988. I recently asked him where he got it. Blockbuster, he said. I still have no idea how that happened. Anyway, we just sat there in stunned silence. WTF, indeed. I remember his roommate coming home, looking at us, looking at what we were watching, and then just walking away. And he was a hardcore trekkie, too. 

Soon after, I saw it during its U.S. theatrical release. A friend with a car drove us to Atlanta. Same: stunned. 

I worked on the board that programmed the movies at our school theater. Both of the friends mentioned above did the same. We showed Akira on the big screen. It was awesome.

To promote its showing, we made a handful of these–like maybe just two. One still sits on my desk. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/23/23 10:43 p.m.
Duke
Duke MegaDork
12/23/23 10:47 p.m.

My first experience was with the colorized manga imported in the '90s.  It's probably over 1000 pages all in, so there's a little more space to absorb the story in a more measured way.

 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
12/23/23 10:49 p.m.

Akira is a good movie, but there have been better since. For a truly baffling experience, you should check out the many iterations of the Ghost in the Shell series.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/23/23 11:06 p.m.

In reply to mad_machine :

I was thinking about where GiTS would compare and I think it shouldn't sit as high on the WTF scale as Akira. Once you figure out the technologies involved - which can take some time and it helps if you've had a lot of other exposure to cyberpunk tropes - it's a relatively straightforward post-cyberpunk sci-fi detective show...by anime standards. Can definitely be baffling compared to most western sci-fi though, and there are a few plot twists that would make anyone ask WTF they just watched, including a very recent one.

One that I think sits pretty high on the WTF scale both from a visual and plot standpoint is Kaiba. There are some GiTS-like technologies that are much harder to figure out and also it looks like a kid's cartoon on acid and you're asking yourself WTF is even happening half the time. I tried to watch it once and gave up a few episodes in.

Edit: Just searched for it and ran across a video "6 reasons why Kaiba is the most WTF anime ever"

The0retical
The0retical UberDork
12/24/23 12:01 a.m.

Oooo I get to be that guy!

The reason it's so WTF is that it's an adaptation of a pretty long manga that was chopped up to fit the 2-ish hour runtime. There's a lot of context that's left out for that reason which makes it... well, baffling in some sections. What Akira had going for it was that it was both visually stunning and hit on a bunch of topics that struck a nerve both in the US and Japan. It was beautiful and timely. I'd say it was pretty influential, but it would be a stretch to call it the greatest anime of all time.

 

GiTS was pretty standard cyberpunk IMO but it was visually interesting, asked a really interesting question, and was also pretty timely. GiTS.SAC 1 and 2 remain some of my favorite series to date.

You want to see some WTF storytelling that would never, under any circumstances what-so-ever, get the greenlight to be made or shown today? Black Lagoon.

 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/24/23 12:20 a.m.

You've wanted a power bike ever since you saw it, haven't you?

red_stapler
red_stapler SuperDork
12/24/23 1:27 a.m.

The WTF for me is that I'm older today than my dad was when the movie came out.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
12/24/23 7:52 a.m.

I'll echo what others have said - Best anime of all time? Nah. But arguably one of the most culturally significant (in the U.S.).

It arguably had the biggest impact on bringing Anime into the mainstream in the U.S.

Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and My Neighbor Totoro are almost certainly the films that introduced most of the rest of the world to Anime. Akira and Totoro were the earliest of those both coming out in 1988. Akira is easily the most visually impressive of those four films. Also the best soundtrack.

It's very "WTF?" but it's the sort of "WTF?" that was unlike anything else at the time and that you could get a thrill from just being an experience, even if you didn't understand it.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
12/24/23 8:44 a.m.
red_stapler said:

The WTF for me is that I'm older today than my dad was when the movie came out.

I hate you

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
12/24/23 9:05 a.m.
Beer Baron said:

I'll echo what others have said - Best anime of all time? Nah. But arguably one of the most culturally significant (in the U.S.).

It arguably had the biggest impact on bringing Anime into the mainstream in the U.S.

Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and My Neighbor Totoro are almost certainly the films that introduced most of the rest of the world to Anime. Akira and Totoro were the earliest of those both coming out in 1988. Akira is easily the most visually impressive of those four films. Also the best soundtrack.

It's very "WTF?" but it's the sort of "WTF?" that was unlike anything else at the time and that you could get a thrill from just being an experience, even if you didn't understand it.

Ayyyyyy- Ninja Scroll. The death of the rock guy...still one of the hardest things for me to watch on film. I don't know why it's so brutal to me, but goddamn. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/24/23 5:06 p.m.

My favorite WTF is FLCL (Fooly Cooly.) I knew it was bonkers when I watched Haruko fix her Vespa by jamming a Gundum figure into it. Completely barE36 M3 show.

stroker
stroker PowerDork
12/24/23 9:39 p.m.

I think maybe I should investigate "Cowboy Bebop"...

Sine_Qua_Non
Sine_Qua_Non SuperDork
12/24/23 9:57 p.m.
stroker said:

I think maybe I should investigate "Cowboy Bebop"...

The anime version. Sure. The Netflix live action version? No. 

The animated Blue Eye Samurai on Netflix is very good. It just got renewed for Season 2. 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
12/24/23 10:28 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

In reply to mad_machine :

I was thinking about where GiTS would compare and I think it shouldn't sit as high on the WTF scale as Akira. Once you figure out the technologies involved - which can take some time and it helps if you've had a lot of other exposure to cyberpunk tropes - it's a relatively straightforward post-cyberpunk sci-fi detective show...by anime standards. Can definitely be baffling compared to most western sci-fi though, and there are a few plot twists that would make anyone ask WTF they just watched, including a very recent one.

One that I think sits pretty high on the WTF scale both from a visual and plot standpoint is Kaiba. There are some GiTS-like technologies that are much harder to figure out and also it looks like a kid's cartoon on acid and you're asking yourself WTF is even happening half the time. I tried to watch it once and gave up a few episodes in.

Edit: Just searched for it and ran across a video "6 reasons why Kaiba is the most WTF anime ever"

Ah, I see you are familiar with the GiTS movie.. but what of the rest of the anime? There is a lot more to it than just the movie, with some seemingly contradicting itself. Stand Alone Complex raises more questions than it answers, even as it follows on thread through many stories. In the end it is not a detective show, but a search for being.

A series I enjoyed immensely in the early 90s was the original Bubblegum Crisis. Another Cyberpunk show, but one that actually predates Akira and again, it and it's spin off, AD Police, do a wonderful job exploring what it means to be human.

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
12/24/23 10:41 p.m.

Neon Genesis Evangelion gets weirder as you go along. Akira never did much for me. 

matthewmcl
matthewmcl Dork
12/24/23 11:18 p.m.
Appleseed said:

My favorite WTF is FLCL (Fooly Cooly.) I knew it was bonkers when I watched Haruko fix her Vespa by jamming a Gundum figure into it. Completely barE36 M3 show.

Foori Coori to my ears, but yes, that show was part of Nancy Reagan's "Just say yes to drugs," program.

matthewmcl
matthewmcl Dork
12/24/23 11:23 p.m.
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) said:

Neon Genesis Evangelion gets weirder as you go along. Akira never did much for me. 

I got to watch Evangelion and Dual, running through together. That was a hoot.

Doomed Megalopolis was my intro to how "not Hollywood" anime could be.

I do remember watching Leiji Matsumoto shows on TV as a kid. I blame him for my opinion that women look awesome with hair longer than knee-length.

yupididit
yupididit UltimaDork
12/24/23 11:50 p.m.
stroker said:

I think maybe I should investigate "Cowboy Bebop"...

My favorite for sure. Not too short or long, ends with you wanting just enough more to be satisfied. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
12/25/23 2:37 a.m.

In reply to mad_machine :

As an Oldtaku, I loved Bubblegum Crisis. Its trash, but in 1991, anime of any kind was next to impossible to find. My buddy paid $200 in 1991 money(!) for...Bubblegum Crash on VHS. And We were happy.

It's so easy to find today that we don't give it a second thought.  But 30+ years ago, it was as underground as it gets.

j_tso
j_tso Dork
12/25/23 10:15 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

Those were the dark days. $50 for 2 twenty minute episodes on a VHS tape.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/25/23 10:47 a.m.

In reply to mad_machine :

Yep I've watched all of SAC, and the most recent big twist was at the end of the latest season.

I've been watching some of the Bubblegum Crisis stuff, a pretty fun, properly cyberpunk action series (I'd say GiTS is a bit more post-cyberpunk than cyberpunk), will have to get AD Police as well.

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