Archive for April, 2010
ICv2 has just created the Naruto Index, a playful way of measuring any retailer’s commitment to manga. The logic flows like this:
- Naruto is arguably the biggest, most important title in the manga market.
- The amount of Naruto that a retailer stocks thus indicates how much that retailer cares about capturing the manga market.
- The number of specific volumes of Naruto stocked (not copies of each volume, but the range of different volumes) measures commitment to the manga market quite accurately, because stocking all 47 volumes (as of this writing) is a serious commitment of shelf space.
I love metrics like this: they’re simple, helpful, and specific. There’s a lot you can’t learn from it, but it communicates its information clearly.
So, for example, Amazon.com scores 100% on the Naruto Index, Barnes & Noble is at 83%, and Borders scores 62%.
My takeaway: online stores are superior to
Director, Creator, and Scenario Writer: Katsuhiro Otomo
Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Akira‘s characters are surprisingly childish. The focal characters–Kaneda, Tetsuo, and the rest of their gang–don’t think about the future, and the few characters who do are trying to prevent it. Most of the characters focus exclusively on the ”here and now.”
Given Asian philosophy towards “living in the moment,” this is pregnant with irony. Here we see the other side of that coin: sticking one’s head in the sand.
As a movie made in the late 1980′s, near the peak of the Japanese bubble economy, this no doubt resonated with both young adults who grew up with that Me Generation attitude, and the older adults suspicious of it (increasingly so, as signs grew of the bubble bursting).
So, Akira‘s characters live in a
Ultimately, the story centers on the consequences of an empty,
Everyone thought it was funny when he broke a rival gang’s arm or busted in an enemy’s head, so now that his power is increased by 100-fold, why not increase the violence by the same ratio?
What is it about?
Testuo and his gang of high
The gang shrugs this off, but Tetsuo’s changed. He’s already been established as the most emotionally volatile of the group (perhaps this made him most sensitive to the child’s contact), and he grows increasingly distracted. He begins to hallucinate. The child has given him strange psychic powers.
He then begins to use and abuse these powers, killing at first in
Tetsuo moves through two broad stages of emotional reaction: fright followed by a power trip. Again, very childish.
Oddly, it’s one of the other gang members, Kaneda, who takes it upon himself to first rescue Tetsuo, then stop him. This develops into a wild arms race, where even a
Unfortunately, the movie’s ending collapses. The titular character Akira returns,
Um, yes you are. How nice for you. If only we didn’t need a deus ex machina to arrive there, and if only that had occurred as a result of your actions. And if only the audience didn’t thoroughly hate you by the end of the movie. Why, exactly, should we care that you are now your own universe?
When I think of Akira, one of the first images that leaps to my mind is the final, grotesque transformation sequence, as Tetsuo’s body expands into a monstrous carnival of oversized organs, engulfing bystanders. At least one character is crushed to death by his expanding body. It’s disgusting and shocking, and an excellent metaphor for Tetsuo himself–always grasping for more, not caring for who gets crushed in the mean time.
Besides the fluid animation and grotesque imagery, the next most shocking element of Akira is its music. Wavering between
Akira’s place in anime
Akira‘s important for its origins and impact. It began as a literally epic manga, nearly 2,000 pages long, which was already very popular when the movie was made. Moreover, the movie was given a large budget, and was animated using traditional,
More importantly, Akira was wildly popular, setting attendance records for animated films in Japan. It made over 6 billion yen on an investment of about 1.1 billion. It proved that money invested in anime would pay off.
This opened the doors for investment in anime. The vast amount of anime produced in the 1990′s can trace much of their financial investment back to the success of Akira (and, thus, the American anime fandom which would go on to subsidize the Japanese industry, which “grew up” on the anime of the 1990′s).