Akira, the dystopian anime movie from 1988, has remained in the hearts of people as a classic anime movie. It is one of those films that changed the course of Japanese animations and forced a new direction into the hearts and minds of people.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira broke records and boundaries and was a huge success that can still hold its own. Its beautiful allegories and breathtaking animation scenes, which were far ahead of its time, paved the way for future anime.
Enough with the praise, it’s time for you to appreciate Akira by yourself, and I hope this article helps you understand a tiny extent of its greatness.
At the end of Akira, Tetsuo loses control of his power and his physical form. The power inside him bubbles up and bursts forth, forming a deformed, gory body. The three esper children call upon Akira and release Tetsuo from his mortal form, leading to a disaster with a scale on par with Akira’s explosion 31 years ago.
Kaneda is caught in the catastrophe and experiences the memories of Tetsuo and the three children. He is informed by the children that Akira is helping them ‘take away’ Tetsuo. “It’s too much for Tetsuo-kun.”
The scientist who is observing the strength and activities of Tetsuo realizes that the phenomenon is almost like the birth of a new universe. However, the universe vanishes, leaving an all-engulfing explosion in its wake.
Most of Tokyo is destroyed and drowned. Kaneda wakes up to see Kei and his friend. The ending lines by the children state, “Someday we’ll also be able to…” “You see, it’s already begun.”
All the clues hint at Tetsuo and Akira’s awakening powers that are far greater than the extent of human imagination. If amoeba gained the power of humans, it would only consume at a greater level; similarly, humans who have awakened a greater power do not know how to control it.
As Tetsuo achieves a God-like power and can no longer control it, he is whisked away by Akira to a different universe, where he can exist, maybe learn his powers, and not harm anyone. The same happened to Akira years back. The only way to escape is by creating a new universe, which also causes significant damage to the surroundings.
The children who have been taking medicines to keep their powers under control will also someday be free of their confines, and the day will come soon. They are now in the hands of Akira, their trusted comrade.
All those with greater powers exit the known universe to be someplace else, in a new universe where they can flourish. The tiny spark left behind in the hands of Kaneda is probably the only tell-tale sign of the newly created universe that will house Tetsuo.
When Tetsuo says, ‘I am Tetsuo,’ it feels like the declaration of self-acknowledgment as Tetsuo can finally understand his powers. It is almost like a Godly declaration, and why not? He indeed created a new universe, of which he is the presiding God.
At the end of Akira, Tetsuo loses control of his power. He no longer had medicines that kept him under check. His body transforms into a huge blob of fleshy mass that tries to engulf everything around him. With the help of Akira, he surpasses his mortal form and is transported into a new universe where he can be free of his fleshy confine.
When the scientist sees a baby-like figure on his radar, it might symbolize the second birth of Tetsuo when he will finally grow into what his powers are meant for.
Kaneda is a witness to all the memories, good and bad, of Tetsuo. All the frustrations that had been repressed inside him were magnified and burst out against society.
The presence of Akira can be explained in two ways. Akira can be the personification of nuclear power and the vast, uncontrollable energy that comes with it. Or Akira awakened a God-like power inside him that was unmatched by his physical form.
Japan conducted programs to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. It sought after Godly power that should not be in the hands of mere humans. Akira can symbolize the nuclear power that eventually devastated Japan.
According to Kei/Kiyoko, Akira is absolute energy. All the knowledge and power of evolution is stored within Akira.
The Neo Tokyo that emerged after Akira’s destruction can be compared to post-World War II Japan when the nation became helpless.
In the climax of the movie, it was revealed that Akira was dead, and all research about him was stored in data. However, in the finale, Akira or his power makes an appearance to take away Tetsuo at the request of the three children.
Akira helps Tetsuo create a new universe with his power and whisks him away so he can no longer harm humans while exercising his abilities. He also takes the three children with him, and they believe they will also awaken their powers soon.
I believe Akira lives on in his created universe as a God-like entity where he can create whatever he wishes with his powers and show Tetsuo and the children the ropes as well.
Tokyo exploded twice in the Akira movie. First, when Akira made a psychic explosion, and the second time, when Akira triggered another explosion 31 years later to create a new universe where Tetsuo could be housed.
Akira created a singularity that devoured Tokyo before it led to the creation of a new universe. Neo-Tokyo was purged of everything, even impure hedonists. Now, people can make a fresh and pure beginning.
Throughout the movie, we witness the failing society of Neo-Tokyo, where the gap between the wealthy and the poor is sickening. Violence, rebellion, death, and chaos were everywhere in the city. The corrupt politicians did not care about improvement, and the military did not care about civilian lives.
There was no way to save civilization without starting anew. The explosion gave Tokyo a second chance. After the first explosion, science and technology developed in leaps and bounds. After the second one, hopefully, technology, as well as human nature, can improve.
At the end of the day, Akira had plenty of symbols pointing towards the nuclear race and warning people against nuclear warfare. The horrible condition of Neo Tokyo pointed a blatant finger toward human greed and the never-ending want for more.
The psychic powers might represent the God-like nuclear power sought after by nations. Neo-Tokyo is torn by violence, raids, an uncaring government, and hedonistic civilians. However, after the second explosion, Tokyo will receive a second chance at civilization, much like Japan after World War II.
I hope the massive explanation could satisfy your queries and incites you to discuss the movie in the comments below.
I would love to hear your point of view on the anime and any other imagery that you could think of.