After signing up for BCM320 I saw we would be watching Akira as part of our assessment which of course made me happy! As a fan of Anime and the dark gritty future of Cyberpunk, it had me excited to share this experience with my peers (even though I was too busy watching the film).
In this week report the focus is on Autoethnography. According to Ellis et al., (2011) Autoethnography is the approach to research and writing in a way that describes and analyze personal experience to understand cultural experience. It challenges standard ways of research and takes bias, political, social and culture into consideration. The process of Autoethnography draws on past experiences to help write as well as epiphanies to remember moments that had significant impact on a person.
When I was younger, I was never a big fan of anime, but had seen 1995 Ghost in the shell (Anime > Live action), Neon Genesis Evangelion, and of course Dragon Ball. I never really did reconnect with anime until a few years before when my friend forced me to watch Koe No Katachi with them and it made me seek for more anime with great feels.
1988 Akira is a Cyberpunk anime directed by Katsuhiro Otomo which sets plays in Neo-Tokyo of the year 2019 (This year!). It’s a dark gritty film with superpowers, corrupt “governments” (we all know corporations run everything in the Cyberpunk world) and the desire of power.
I must admit, I did not pay too much attention to the live tweeting during the film, but I did go through what the class was tweeting at the time. There was a lot of comparison with films such as stranger things and blade runner. Having not seen films such as Stranger things it has left me with my imagination of people with superpowers in a real-life setting. Blade runner would be closer comparison due to the Cyberpunk setting, but I do believe Akira is a much darker Cyberpunk setting that is still trying to rebuild after the events of WW2.
In the film there is an exploration of religion and the need for power/independence. Throughout the film Tetsuo claims that he does not need saving and that now he has powers others could beg for his help. My interpretation of these multiple scenes is that it explores the desire to have power in a world where you are surrounding things that will continue to push you down. Crime, corruption, hate continues to pull you down in an already broken-down world. (Hey that’s how i feel).
Another interesting point I would like to bring up is that during one many of the intense scenes during Akira a song would be played which has a similar sound to dark chanting. The Akira’s soundtrack is called “Battle against clown”. Coming from a religious background and having to been a monk for a week, these chanting from the film rings a few bells. My interpretation is that the citizens of Neo-Tokyo has a burning desire to see their lord Akira return. Or you know… it could just be that it reminds me of my Asthma after a run.
Before writing this report, I did some research on how some viewers felt about the film and it was a mix response. Some say they loved it and others say Akira was too violent with sexual violence. Akira explores themes from a dark fictional Cyberpunk world which contains violence of all sorts such as terrorist bombings, killings, and sexual violence. In a Cyberpunk setting, there is little to no laws and crime is infested within the streets as we see in Akira.
Cyberpunk and Anime has been rooted within me and is now a big part of who i am. Because of Anime I’ve taken up studies of the Japanese language and made new friends through anime. The Cyberpunk setting has always interested me and if i was given the option to swap into a cyberpunk like world i would. (Maybe not the Akira’s Neo-tokyo but rather Ghost in the Shell universe)
Akira has made history and will always be regarded as one of the best films ever made.
Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>