A 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk action film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto, and featuring the voices of Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, and Taro Ishida. The screenplay is based on Otomo's manga Akira, focusing mainly on the first half of the story. The film depicts a dystopian version of Tokyo in the year 2019, with cyberpunk tones. The plot focuses on teenage biker Tetsuo Shima and his psychic powers, and the leader of his biker gang, Shotaro Kaneda. Kaneda tries to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the imprisoned psychic Akira. While most of the character designs and settings were adapted from the original 2182-page manga epic, the restructured plot of the movie differs considerably from the print version, pruning much of the last half of the manga. The film became a hugely popular cult film and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation.
In Neo-Tokyo, 2019, Shotaro Kaneda leads the Capsules, his bōsōzoku gang, to fight against the rival gang known as the Clowns. However, Kaneda's best friend Tetsuo Shima is injured when he almost crashes his motorcycle into Takashi, a small esper sprung from a secret government laboratory by a dissident underground revolutionary organization. Takashi is captured by armed soldiers and Tetsuo is hospitalized. When Kaneda and his gang are interrogated, he encounters Kei, a member of the revolutionary group, and arranges her release along with his own gang.
Neo-Tokyo, a booming, industrial city with the ambiance of a society on the edge of collapse Meanwhile, Colonel Shikishima and Doctor Onishi discover that Tetsuo possesses psychic capabilities similar to Akira, a young esper who caused Tokyo's destruction 31 years earlier. Kiyoko, another esper, has visions of Neo-Tokyo's destruction, and the Colonel tells Onishi to kill Tetsuo if he thinks the power may get out of control. Tetsuo flees from the hospital and meets up with his girlfriend, Kaori, and they steal Kaneda's motorcycle. When Tetsuo and Kaori are confronted by the Clowns, Kaneda and the Capsules save them both. Tetsuo begins to suffer a psychic migraine, and Doctor Onishi has Tetsuo taken back to the hospital. Saving Kei from being captured after a guerrilla attack, Kaneda is led to the rebels' headquarters and cooperates with them after overhearing their plans to kidnap Tetsuo. Meanwhile, Takashi, Kiyoko and Masaru — another Esper — unsuccessfully attempt to kill Tetsuo. Tetsuo eventually goes on a violent rampage through the hospital, intent on killing the espers. Kaneda, Kei, and the Colonel unsuccessfully try to stop Tetsuo's rampage. Discovering that Akira is in cryonic storage below Neo-Tokyo's new Olympic Stadium, Tetsuo flees. Kei and Kaneda are detained, but Kiyoko — using Kei as a medium — explains that Tetsuo must be stopped, and facilitates the youths' escape before taking the girl away to combat Tetsuo. Desperate to find Tetsuo, the Colonel places Neo-Tokyo under martial law. Tetsuo confronts and kills Yamagata, a member of the Capsules. He then proceeds to destroy the city as he makes his way to the Stadium, brutally dispatching the military forces who attempt to stand in his way. Upon learning of Yamagata's death from his friend Kai, Kaneda follows Tetsuo to the stadium, seeking revenge. When Tetsuo arrives at Akira's cryonic dewar flask, he defeats Kei and exhumes the Akira vault from the ground, but discovers all that is left of Akira are glass canisters filled with his remains, his body having been subjected to numerous scientific experiments. Kaneda confronts and unsuccessfully tries to defeat Tetsuo with an experimental laser weapon, while the Colonel uses an orbital laser to sever Tetsuo's right arm. Tetsuo pulls the orbital weapon into the atmosphere and synthesizes an artificial arm from the remains while studying Akira's organs. When Kaori arrives, Tetsuo's psychokinetic powers have begun to cause him immense pain. The Colonel explains that the espers' migraine-controlling drugs administered to Tetsuo are to stunt the evolution of uncontrollable abilities. Despite the Colonel's pleas for Tetsuo to return to the hospital, Tetsuo nearly kills the Colonel, but Kaneda confronts him. Unable to control his powers, Tetsuo's body begins to transform into a giant mass, engulfing Kaneda and crushing Kaori to death. The espers awaken Akira, who had merely grown beyond the requirement of a coherent biological form. Manifesting himself from the canisters, Akira reunites with his friends. Akira uses his psychic powers to create a blinding ball of light that engulfs the city, which he uses to contain Tetsuo. As Akira confronts Tetsuo, the espers hurry to teleport the Colonel to safety and — over Masaru and Kiyoko's objections — Takashi jumps into the light to rescue Kaneda. The other espers join Takashi, deciding that it will take all three of them to save Kaneda, aware they likely will not be able to return. Kaneda experiences Tetsuo's and the espers' childhood memories, including how much Tetsuo trusted Kaneda as a friend and how the children were first studied before Tokyo's destruction. The espers remove Kaneda from the destruction and tell him that Akira will be taking Tetsuo to safety; Kiyoko implies that Kei is beginning to develop her own psychic powers, and this is confirmed when Kei calls Kaneda out telepathically. Akira's psychic power destroys most of Neo-Tokyo, and — after disappearing — leaves a void that is quickly filled by the ocean. Doctor Onishi is killed when his research laboratory is crushed. Kaneda awakens to discover that Kei and Kai have survived, and they drive away into the city. The Colonel walks out of the tunnel that the espers teleported him to and watches the sun rising over the destroyed city. Tetsuo comes into full control of his powers as he initiates a Big Bang in another dimension, uttering the words: "I am Tetsuo".
While working on the original manga, Akira, creator Katsuhiro Otomo agreed to an anime adaptation of the series provided he retained creative control. This insistence was based on his experiences working on Harmagedon. The Akira Committee was the name given to a partnership of several major Japanese entertainment companies brought together to realize production of an Akira film. The group's assembly was necessitated by the unconventionally high budget of around ¥1,100,000,000, intended to achieve the desired epic standard equal to Otomo's over 2,000 page manga tale. The committee consisted of publisher Kodansha Ltd., Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc., Bandai Co., Ltd., Hakuhodo Incorporated, distributor Toho Co., Ltd., Laserdisc Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and animation producers, Tokyo Movie Shinsha Co., Ltd. Most anime is notorious for cutting production corners with limited animation, such as having only the characters' mouths move while their faces remained static. Akira broke from this trend with detailed scenes, pre-scored dialogue (wherein the dialogue is recorded before the film starts production and the movements of the characters' lips are animated to match it)– a first for an anime production – and super-fluid motion as realized in the film's more than 160,000 animation cells. Unlike its live-action predecessors, Akira also had the budget to show a fully realized futuristic Tokyo. The teaser trailer for Akira was released in 1987. The film was completed and released in 1988, two years before the manga officially ended in 1990. Otomo had great difficulty completing the manga; he has stated that the inspiration for its conclusion arose from a conversation that he had with Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1990. Otomo later recalled that the film project had to begin with the writing of an ending that would bring suitable closure to major characters, storylines, and themes without being extraordinarily lengthy, so that he could know in reverse order which manga elements would make the cut into the anime and thus suitably resolve the manga's various elements into a lean, two-hour story. Otomo is a big fan of Tetsujin 28-go. As a result, his naming conventions match the characters featured in Tetsujin 28-go: Kaneda shares his name with the protagonist of Tetsujin 28-go; Colonel Shikishima shares his name with Professor Shikishima of Tetsujin 28-go, while Tetsuo is named after Shikishima's son Tetsuo Shikishima; Akira's Ryūsaku is named after Ryūsaku Murasame. In addition, Takashi has a "26" tattooed on his hand which closely resembles the font used in Tetsujin 28-go. The namesake of the series, Akira, is the 28th in a line of psychics that the government has developed, the same number as Tetsujin-28. The sound of Kaneda's bike engine was produced by compositing the engine sound of a 1929 Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a jet engine.