Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Otomo, “Akira”, Volume 5, March 2011, Cover Illustration, Published by Kodansha Comics

“In the 21st century, the once glittering Neo-Tokyo lies in ruin, leveled in minutes by the infinite power of the child psychic Akira. From the flooded wasteland of rubble and anarchy rises the Great Tokyo Empire, populated by a ragtag army of zealots and crazies who worship and fear Akria and his mad prime minister, Tetsuo, an angry teen with immense powers of his own– and equally immense, twisted ambitions. The world at large is not taking the threat lying down, and the military strength of the planet is massing to take on the empire, but will technology’s most advanced weaponry be enough to destroy Akira? And are Tetsuo’s rapidly growing paranormal abilities a potentially greater threat?” Stay tuned for more… .

Akira: Gif Set Two

Akira: Gif Set Two

Akira: directed by Ruairi Robinson and Katsuhiro Otomo, 2001

One of the best-known examples of contemporary Japanese animation, this cyberpunk adventure takes place in the post-apocalyptic city of Neo-Tokyo. A teen-age boy is exposed to a mysterious energy source and develops telekinetic powers that place him at the center of a conflict that may destroy the world.

A landmark anime feature that paved the way for the medium’s growing popularity outside of Japan and remains a significant influence in the sci-fi genre (this and “Ghost in the Shell” were key influences to the super-popular Matrix trilogy). At times it can be over-shadowed by it’s excessive graphic violence and an exhaustingly drawn-out third act, but this adaptation of director Katsuhiro Otomo’s 2000-page manga keeps up a kinetically-energetic pace that simply has you holding on for dear life throughout. Plus, the hand-drawn cell animation remains a wonder to behold even 14 years later and still holds a candle to even modern contemporary anime efforts.