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How the Akira Anime Changed Pop Culture in the ’80s!

Akira is the movie that is the whole definition of Katsuhiro Otomo’s career. Akira is the movie where Otomo put so much effort, hard work, and dedication reflected in film. This movie is the classic anime movie of 1988, and it is based upon a manga that was printed in 1982; Akira is still released in so many cinemas for a short span of time. Everything about this movie was influential and way ahead of its time, including the charismatic and vibrant Akira Jacket

Unlike any other anime movie of that time, Akira talked about the taboos of society and how the inadequacy of the government can ruin the states for many years. This movie showed a group of teen boys and how the condition of their declining state affected their life. If you are still unaware of this anime, then you are living under the rock, mate. This anime started ruling the anime industry in 1988, and it is still killin’ it. Akira has been a great influence on every field of industry, and here is how it changed pop culture.


Before Akira, there was no concept of 2-D anime movies. Akira was made by hand-painting every light source in the movie, giving birth to the 2D city. When Akira appeared on screens, it came to everyone’s mind that this anime was different from the other anime which have previously been released in Japan. It didn’t happen by chance, which was the outcome of Otomo’s hard work; Otomo took the risk that no other director dared to take. No other director had such courage to invest 8 million dollars in an anime, but Otomo took the greatest risk of that time. 

Otomo did not just put his money, but he supervised everything by himself. Akira was made up of over 160,000 animation cels, which helped him create the details of the scenes and smooth movements. This means that the creators and artists had to describe the background, middle scenes, and foreground of every scene using three cels. This process is not easy, though it is so tough that people do not even practice it now. However, this process shows little details about the backgrounds, foregrounds, and city. Otomo didn’t stop there, and he kept trying as hard as he could.

Otomo was determined to create a futuristic, realistic, and graphically accurate world, so he used computer graphics to add tiny details to Akira’s world. For the very first time in the history of anime, Otomo recorded or dubbed the dialogues first to make the lip-syncing accurately synchronized instead of just moving lips up and down. All of these factors and efforts combined and formed Akira as the legendary anime.


Akira projected from other anime, but it was also a great breakthrough for the Japanese anime industry. When this film traveled to the West, it made great changes in their anime industry as well. Before Akira was released, anime was considered for children only. Every animated movie creator in the West used to make movies with innocent storylines and simple graphics to target the young minds. They didn’t even think of hitting a mature and adult audience, but Akira was not like it. It was full of adult content (not sexually, of course).

This movie directly hit so many weak points of the society, such as corruption, government experiments, spoiled teens, violence, and some kids who got weird due to hidden tests. Like every other anime, Akira didn’t try to make it to the American aesthetic anime world. However, it worked hard to make this anime a japan-friendly one. You will see the Japanese mythologies and culture in this anime. Also, Akira turned Japanese culture to the whole world; without this anime, no other anime and manga could have done it.


Akira has influenced many sci-fi movies like Inception and Midnight Special with its story of special telekinetic abilities. Though, the sci-fi series Stranger Things is something that owes so much to Akira with its story of the government’s incompetency destroying a town, while simultaneously showing the character of Eleven, a girl who is suffering from having psychokinetic abilities as the outcome of the government’s tests on her. Eleven’s character is so much like Tetsuo from Akira, and if you compare both of them, you will find so many similarities in them. The major similar thing is that they both have powers in their minds. Many other shows have also taken something from Akira’s plot, so they all owe Akira.


Have you listened to Michael Jackson’s hit in 1995, Scream? If yes, then you might have also watched its video; that video was directly under the influence of Akira. Lupe Fiasco released an album called ‘Tetsuo and Youth’ in 2015, which was directly taken from the Tetsuo Shima’s life. Now, it comes to Kanye West. Kanye loves Akira, he has always been under the influence of this movie, and he accepted it so often that this anime is the best among all. 


There has been a rumor that Akira might have already predicted the cancelation of the Olympics in 2020. The Olympic games, which were supposed to be in Tokyo in 2020, are now postponed to 2021. In the anime, when it was 2019, a billboard appeared in the state f Neo Tokyo with a countdown of the days left in the Olympics 2020. When 147 days were left to the main events, graffiti was written under it, ‘Just Cancel It,’ and exactly 147 days before the games, Olympics got postponed off the schedule. Every anime fan noticed it! Even ‘Just Cancel It’ became the top Twitter trend in Japan.

Inclusively, Akira never borrowed anything from the pop culture; however, it added so much to it. With Akira Jacket and its futuristic capabilities, it is still influencing so many things.

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