Here at RankStuff we are starting a new weekly tradition to give a more critical eye to the cinema. We have some diverse/passionate movie watchers in this group. The setup is this: On Monday we all nominate a movie and pitch it. The following day we vote and consume. The next day or two we will dissect the film in sometimes in light and other times more in-depth ways.
The winner of this week was Akira 1988 (English Dubbed Version). Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. This post-apocalyptic cyberpunk film laid the foundation for the cult following and raising the popularity of anime. The story hits thematic devices of friendship, government, power, false gods, spirituality, rebellion/youth, and nuclear war all in the matter of about two hours. Doing all that with the classic animation of hand-drawn style that enchants you throughout the whole experience. Here are some quick-fire /prompts and responses from us about the film.
In 5 words or less, how did the movie make you feel?
Brewer Everything twice.
Chase: Akira made me feel pensive.
Creg: Aware of my own connections.
Smoky: Just two words: open, validated.
Tommy: Confused, but happy to be
In 15 words or less sell the movie
Brewer Ancient mysterious forces vs the power of friendship except that one friend fuck that guy
Chase: A beautifully animated action-packed dystopian Sci-Fi Masterpiece
Creg: Beautifully drawn, Cyberpunk film that has more to say and to show than most films.
Smoky: The best-animated action film you’ll ever see. Also very beautiful touching. Something for everybody.
Tommy: Beautifully animated, heart-filled, action-packed, ahead of its time sci-fi action masterpiece
For someone who has never seen an anime movie, offer three American movies, tv shows, videos or less that have similar motifs, themes, or seem to have been influenced or been the influencer to Akira.
Brewer: Dragon Ball Z, Starship Troopers, Rick & Morty
Chase: Blade Runner inspired Akira
Rick and Morty had an episode inspired by Akira
Creg: Blade Runner, Mad Max, and Logan
Smoky: Not a movie or show, but I kept feeling a Ray Bradberry— Fahrenheit 451 vibe from this one. Also a little bit of Tron with the motorbike action.
Tommy: Bladerunner 2049, Princess Mononoke (another anime but fuck you, watch it and you’ll understand), 2001: A Space Odyssey
Insert a gif that you believe encapsulates the film.
Choose two lines from the movie that stands out.
"What about my burning desire to study and learn a vocation?"
"You’re all puppets, don’t you understand it’s pointless to fight each other"
Tetsuo to Kanaeda - “Why do you always have to try and save me? I could handle it on my own. Yeah, I admit I’ve gotten beaten before, but I won’t always be on the receiving end, you hear that? You understand?”
“They were too scared, so they hid it away from the public. They forgot all shame and honor, cast off the civilization and science we had created, and shut the lid of the Pandora’s Box they themselves had opened.” – Colonel Shikishima
“Enough! Open up your eyes and look at the big picture; You're all puppets of corrupt politicians and capitalists. Don't you understand, it's utterly pointless to fight each other.”
“But someday we ought to be able to......
Because it has already begun.”
”I am… Tetsuo”
“I want to see how much of a trap it is, don’t you?”
Kaneda: This has GOT to be a trap.
Kei: Then go back.
Kaneda: No. I just have to find how MUCH of it is a trap.
(biggest laugh, fun line during a part of the movie when intensity was building)
Kaneda: He's not your friend, he's ours! If somebody's gonna kill him, it should be us!
(defines the relationship between the characters)
Favorite shot of the movie?
Brewer: Pan overs of the city. Racing scenes. The ending animations. The visuals were consistently amazing.
Chase: My favorite scene is the opening bike scene where Kaneda starts up his bike in the alley and takes off. I love the way the city looks and how the tail lights leave tracers.
Creg: The opening scenes where it shows the layout of the city and the racing characters that embody it really set the tone. It is detailed in its animation and a direct analogy for how the pacing of the movie is going to be. The ending with the eye of the beholder has been stuck in my head as well. The film had a rhythm of how to construct a shot in terms of plot, sound, (sometimes silence), and imagery.
Smoky: The ending when the universe was collapsing and being reborn. It resembled an eye (which I am especially partial to). The movie score went silent which was incredibly drawing, and at the same time, the rain from outside added to the scene perfectly to create a truly beautiful moment.
Tommy: There were a lot of impressive shots. I whispered “whoa” to myself constantly throughout the movie. I have to say the most classic shot though, the motorcycle skid during the chase scene.
Ask an answerable question
Brewer: Where’d they go?
Chase: What are the specs of Kaneda's Bike
Creg: Was our universe created as a result of another being going to a higher plane?
Tommy: Why was the young psychic kid running away from the lab at the beginning of the movie? Seemed like he was happy there with all his friends when he got back.
MVP of the movie
Chase: Kanaeda is just a very cool character, the opening bike scene
Creg: Tetsuo. Fostercare kid who felt insecure and unappreciated has the untapped potential to be god. He creates an empathetic character who can’t contain the energy and power within us all, but it is happening at a rate that no longer lets him have his hands on the wheel. His fight to cling to his humanity while succumbing to the power is electric.
Smoky: ”Chuck Lidel’s older brother”
Tommy: Kei, Kaneda’s “girlfriend”, is a badass that the psychic kids know they can trust
Who was the main hero in your eyes? Who was the main villain?
Everyone was a grey character. The old-blue-kids & the general seemed to be the only ones with good intentions.
Tatsuo was a vessel for power & corruption, forced into a villain role when he was just an insecure kid.
In my eyes the main heroes were the children with psychic powers, they saved everyone sacrificing themselves.
The main villain was the corrupt city council, their decisions are what caused this whole scenario in the first place.
Hero: I would say the 3 children because they saw the bigger picture of the now and the universe, and were willing to make the sacrifices for when things went awry.
Villain: Most humans. Some were looking for a savior (the legends of Akira, and probs the same for Tetsuo down the road), some were looking for power, and others control. The misunderstanding of the untapped potential within all of us. Humans tend to have some form of an arms race to use whatever that potential is for self-interest.
If you want to label them—it would be Akira as the hero and Tetsuo as the villain. In my eyes, they are yin and yang. There was no real hero or real villain, just two parts of a whole.
Kaneda was my main hero, he didn’t always have the best motives, but he ended up in the right place, ready to sacrifice himself for his friend.
I think they wanted us to think the Colonel was the main villain, but then it became Tetsuo, but they were both very flawed and sympathetic. So I’m just gonna say the main villain was just like, society, man.
The story had a lot of messages in it, what is the one that stood out the most to you?
Brewer: Buy a motorcycle.
Chase: I think the theme is about the abuse of power. Tetsuo and the council mirror each other in the way they have power and abuse it. I like how the only people that used their power in a responsible way were the Espers who are literal children.
Creg: Everything is connected, we are all the same cosmic dust with the ability to care and feel one another in a way that is not normalized in our culture and not consciously aware of each other’s energy.
Smoky: The message I heard the loudest was that everything is one. Just like the yin and yang analogy, the city, the citizens, all come out of one consciousness.
Tommy: The message of Friendship is the easy and cheesy answer, but it’s also the one that stood out to me. Tetsuo and Kaneda grew up together, protecting each other, doing miscreant shit. Kaneda was always the leader, once Tetsuo had the power he wanted to be the alpha, but Kaneda is willing to do everything in his power to bring him back from the brink of destruction, whether it be killing him or sacrificing himself.
Shittiest person in the movie?
Brewer: Scientist. Either it was his first day on the job or he was totally unqualified.
Chase: Nezu (rat looking Councilman) embodied everything that is wrong with the council, greedy, selfish, with no regard for anyone but themselves
Creg: Mr. graph reading fucking scientist.
Smoky: I can only think of one shitty character and he died from a heart attack just before the whole city was engulfed in an atomic bomb-type blast. ~The corrupt politician~
Tommy: Nezu, the government guy who was also a mole. Played both sides and still lost. Tried to escape retribution, died of a heart attack in an alley. Eat shit.
Would you recommend and is it worth re-watching?
Brewer: Yes ^2
Chase: This movie is well worth rewatching if you already haven't.
Creg: Yes. If you have never watched anime, this might sell you on it. The music, themes, animation, and humor create a variety of forms of entertainment. It has its flaws with character development and plot progression, but they are easier to overlook with all the beauty around the film.
Smoky: Absolutely. I’d watch again with anybody with an open mind and an open heart.
Tommy: Yes you should watch it, and I’ll watch it with you because now that I know what’s going on I can enjoy the animation even more.
What is your personal rating of the movie?
Brewer: One corrupt council meeting
Chase: 8 out of 10
Great story with complex themes, beautifully animated, However, I believe it lacks a bit in character development.
Creg: I give it nine Totoros with 4 of them taking a drag on a cigarette.
Smoky: Two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Tommy: If a perfect movie is an Oreo, and the worst movie ever made is a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart, I give it a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie
As you can already tell, we will be doing a wide variety of movies this year. Keep reading faithful readers
- Moving Pictures Committee