Beautiful & Horrific: AKIRA’s Distinctly Japanese Existence, and Its Cross-Cultural Insights

Media, Stories and Thoughts

I first started watching Japanese anime about 8 years ago. One of the works that was recommended again and again, was Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 post-apocalypic sci-fi film, Akira (アキラ). Now, after watching the film 30 years after it’s initial release, I can understand the hype.
While viewing the film I experienced two major epiphanies; one being rather divergent of my personal experiences of animated mediums, and the other clearly aligning with a culture-wide idea of horror.


The Animation: Beautiful Yet Gruesome

As a long time fan of animated mediums, Akira’s animation quality immediately stood out to me. Most anime I have been exposed to were part of serialized television series with strict deadlines and restricted budgets, which can severely undercut their animation quality. Akira certainly doesn’t suffer from the same quality issue (and with a budget of $8 million, one would certainly hope not).

Every frame (of which there are…

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