Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo
Based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s Manga of the same name
Written by Katsuhiro Otomo, Izo Hashimoto.
Production by Tokyo Movie Shinsha
In the year 1988, Tokyo is seen being destroyed by an explosion, which in turn triggers World War III. Thirty-one years later, Neo-Tokyo has been built in the old city’ place, and is getting ready to host the next Olympic Games. However, this dystopia-like society has become a hot bed for gang violence and anti-government terrorism. Suddenly, we see a man running with a child, however, he is almost run over by a bike-gang member, which leaves the member in the hospital, where it is realized that he possess psychic abilities, which might have been what triggered the bomb that destroyed the old city. Kaneda, childhood friend of Tetsuo, whose abilities might be out of control, must try to save his friend, while at the same time, figure out whether the anti-government protesters and the religious emerging cults have any ground to stand on. Plus, there are some cool bike races.
This film is an important landmark, not only of Japanese animation, but animation in general, as it brought forth an usually underground format to the public eye. After its release, particularly in America, it popularized the genre with mass following, which lead (to me) into a golden age of anime. It stepped up the game of animation, by recording the audio before production, so all facial features could be present in the characters instead of the usually used “mouth-only”. Every scene appears to be perfectly drawn, as if we could reach to the screen and touch the people and places, leaving little to imagination by means of imagery. All the while, letting our mind wander when it comes to the plot. What happened in Tokyo that created such an explosion? What are these abilities? Who are these kids? Why is there so much unrest? So many questions, and the answers are just as confusing, and awesome. Science-fiction gold!
Asides from the incredible and revolutionary animation, the characters became a staple of the film. We get to observe complicated relationships between every individual, whether it be some misplaced trust or resentment. Every character, including the minuscule ones, get reasoning for their actions, with not all being some grand scheme of emotions, but sometimes, panic and fear. It is a film that will show the duality of human kind in such a brute way that we will not leave wondering how humans can be so cruel and stupid, but why we are this way.
The musical score used was wonderful, it really highlights the emotions the audience and the characters are feeling at every second. Alongside every decision made, we are in a constant state of nervousness, with every sound encouraging our fear. It is simply, wonderful.
I recently re-watched this movie with my friend, who had never even heard of the movie, and we both agreed on many things, the main one: it still holds up as an incredible movie after over twenty years since release. It is just as good now as it was back then, and the impact it had on all those that watched it will not be easily forgot. Please pick a copy of this film and enjoy it with some friends, that way you can all discuss theories of what the hell is going on, it is more fun that way.