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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This highly complex movie deals with many issues, ranging from the concept that ideas and memories are saved and passed from being to being throughout the universe, to the idea of a messiah that could save (or destroy) everything and everyone. There's also a small argument as to whether to deal with things via violence or science, but movie's overwhelming violence tends to steamroll over any other potential themes.
Positive Role Models
Since it's not always easy to tell who is doing the right thing in this story, and since nearly every character reacts to nearly every situation with violence, it can be safely said that there are no clear role models.
Violence & Scariness
This movie has incredible amounts of sci-fi violence, ranging from spectacular, large-scale battles and explosions, to angry mobs, guns and shooting and motorcycle fights. Many characters are shot, and blood is on display. A major character loses an arm. Dogs are shot. A young woman is beat up in one sequence. The movie takes place after WWIII, and shows images of a nuclear explosion. As the movie progresses, the imagery becomes more and more nightmarish, unexplainable, and disturbing (it begins with giant stuffed animals attacking a young man).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A young woman is shown topless in one sequence; it's a scene of violence rather than sexuality. In an earlier scene, a man in the background of a bar is shown kissing and groping a woman.
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Language is fairly strong, but tends to avoid "f--k" and "s--t" too many times, concentrating instead on a plethora of "damn," "hell," "jerk," "loser," "idiot," "piss," "bitch" and "son of a bitch," "bastard," "sick mother," "Goddamn," "Jesus Christ," "ass," and "a--hole." The word "f--k" is never spoken, but can be seen written as graffiti in a few background shots.
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Products & Purchases
The movie's most powerful and most coveted motorcycle has a "Canon" sticker on it, shown often. A Coke can is visible in one shot.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are seen smoking in the background.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Akira is a landmark of anime, a superproduction in Japan, and a cult classic in the United States; it introduced many Americans to the genre. It's available in an English-dubbed version as well as a Japanese version with English subtitles; this review references the English version. The violence is quite incredible, with numerous battles, fights, and shootouts, with blood, and escalating into nightmarish, disturbing imagery. Language is fairly constant, but rarely escalates to the "big" words, "s--t" and "f--k." "Damn" and "hell" are used regularly. There's one scene of female toplessness (in a moment of violence rather than intimacy), and a moment of sexual groping in the background of a scene. This is essential viewing for any serious teen fans of anime, though it's one of the most intense examples. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Katsuhiro Otomo co-wrote the screenplay of Akira and directed this 1988 adaptation of his much-loved 1980s-era manga (comic book); it was a huge production that paid off enormously. When it arrived in America, it became a cult classic and introduced Western audiences to anime (Japanese animation), a genre that remains popular to this day.
Akira is extraordinarily dense and enormously complicated, and things like story and characters tend to go out the window in favor of cosmic ideas and mysteries, bizarre imagery, and astounding levels of violence. It takes full advantage of the animated medium with its sheer imagination and intensity. Indeed, to attempt these same images in a live-action setting would have been far too expensive and disturbing. Time has not yet dulled the sheer impact of the work, though, and the level of detail, movement, and fluidity is still highly impressive. It's still essential viewing for anyone interested in the genre.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.