Oldie Goldie: Weekly Movie-To-Watch From Long Ago

Oldie Goldie - Check out our classic movie recommendation for the week!

By Hui Ling Chang


The modern young woman (or man) should be well-acquainted with the arts, and boast a decent knowledge on films on hand, old and new alike. Here, we introduce to you every week classic films you should watch at least once before you die.

Oldie Goldie

I am starting the movie-to-watch series with a younger movie of significant historical value. Widely acknowledged as one of the films that successfully introduced contemporary Japanese animation to the Western market, Akira is only able to achieve what it has accomplished thanks to the medium of anime. Because animation is not bounded by the physical limits of the natural world and technology, this detailed work of art could unleash the imagination of its creator and science fiction on paper and screen.

To begin, here are some quick not-always-fun facts about Akira the film:

  • First came out in 1988
  • Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
  • Written By: Katsuhiro Ôtomo, Izo Hashimoto
    • The movie is based on a six-part manga series by Ôtomo shrunk to fit 124 minutes on screen
    • The film debut 2 years before the manga was completed
  • Ratings: R for brief nudity and graphic violence (and I mean lots of violent, visceral images)
  • Rotten Tomatoes gave it an astounding 87% and IMDb rated it an 8.1
So what is the story about (without giving it away)?

Set in a post WWIII dystopian Japan in 2019, the story revolves around a Neo-Tokyo drowning in confusion, chaos and violence. The leader of a biker gang must stop one of his gang member and good friend from using his new-found power triggered by classified government experiments to facilitate the destruction of Neo-Tokyo.

I was first introduced to Akira when I was looking over the shoulder of a friend watching a YouTube clip. It was immensely intriguing. I saw a grotesque and grossly over-proportioned limb growing out of a guy’s body and the flesh was consuming everything. It was so terrifyingly captivating I knew I had to watch this show.

My thumbs up thumbs down

As a futuristic sci-fi context, the film tries to include many bizarre and overwhelming details and ideas. Think action, violence, body-horror. It might have tried to include too much in a bid to shock the audience (although I think the Japanese are very good at these).

There was also little character development involved. But I liked how there is no single guy you could pinpoint for sure as the villain or the hero. The main characters have their fair share of morally right and wrong actions. Yet their actions always seemed psychologically or emotionally justified. The young deviants, the terrorist figures and the all-destroyer alike. I believe this is a considerable effort on the author’s part in constructing character and character motivations which makes the story more humane and tragic.

The story also has a few forgivable plot holes which you will overlook once you get sucked into the main plot line. The ending is quite confusing, and I had to read the Wiki synopsis to understand what the ending meant. It opens more questions for the future which could be developed into a sequel. But really, would you attempt to continue such a masterpiece at the risk of spoiling it? Ultimately, the story warns of the dangers of pursuing too great a power and knowledge beyond one’s control.

The action and curious happenings, and the fact that these scenes are hand-drawn, make good reasons to catch Akira at least once. Just try to watch it without kids or people who shy away from graphic stuff.

Random Fun Fact

The surviving guy and girl pair looked the same to me, especially in matching orange costumes. Could not tell them apart if not for the voice-overs.

Click here for the trailer.

You can write in to huiling@foxesden.co or comment to let us know what films you recommend and would like us to share with our readers.