Welcome to The Ideology Of Modern Cinema

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Akira (anime) film analysis part 3: An overripe fruit

The sprawling metropolis of Neo-Tokyo is an example of a sophistication in technology and how densely populated it is. The entire setting, like the real Tokyo, is very large and overpowering, and features streets drenched in neon lighting and corporate signs. The setting is visually stunning and is very Blade Runner and cyberpunk in its design. the surface of Neo-Tokyo is the usaul concrete jungle of skyscrapers and industrial buildings, but beneath is a vast network of wires, pipes, circuitry, technology and energy conduits which are just as overpowering as the city itself. Clearly it takes a lot of man power and energy to keep this city running, perhaps a little to much. This is the common groundwork for any cyber punk orientated work, which in this case is an over reliance of technology and the constant desire to update and discover more.

The city is saturated, not just in its setting but also how its society functions. The maximum potential has been achieved and the revolution of the people is going to bring it down to square one, repeating the process of maturing and rebuilding after destruction or revelation has been achieved. When something is full it needs to be emptied, which is exactly what Neo-Tokyo needs, its needs to empty its self and fill up again. Even at one point in the movie a character suggests a similar outlook. The character Nezu says "This city is like an overripe fruit".

The idea of reaching maximum potential is conveyed with the character Akira, and the fact that this last great discovery within old Tokyo is what destroyed it, and started the next stage of the destruction cycle, rebuilding. The social boiling point has been met within Neo-Tokyo, and it will result in change and a new order, only for it to boil over again and change again.

Akira (anime) film analysis part 2: The Highways of opportunity

Kaneda and his biker gang are an example of the part of a society that is oblivious to the bigger picture or simply just doesn't care. There is a revolution occurring all around them and political struggles present, but yet they seem to care more about wrecking havoc and fighting in gang wars with other biker gangs. This is common with most teenagers and youth in general. Before they have fully understood the complex world around them, their first main objective isn't to plan a career or to fully prepare, but to discover knowledge or pursue early social lives. This is what Kaneda and his gang are, they are careless free thinkers who spend there time freely riding through the streets and highways of Neo-Tokyo on there bikes. This is their only real output in a country that's crumbling to pieces around them, they haven't found an exact place in main society yet, so they choose to rebel against it.

The films opening bike scenes summaries there delinquent lifestyles fairly clearly, showing them taking part in brutal and uncompromising bike chases and fights with a rival biker gang. There is a section of the chase that shows there detachment from their modern society even more. During their chase they start to ride towards old Tokyo as they ride across the deserted highways that lead there. This symbolically suggests the wish to return to an old way of life, and a wish to move away form the complexities and dangers of the modern Tokyo they inhabit. The highway they ride on while heading there is deserted, it is only them and the rival biker gang present. The way this sequence shows only the youth inhabiting these highways leading from an old society to a new one suggests there freedom and mindset.

Riding around on there bikes is almost like a form of escapism as they ride around almost aimlessly ignoring the complexities of their surroundings and engaging themselves directly into what ever ignites their interests. Because of there status as rebels, they are unbound from their modern settings, and because of that they have opportunity's to set their own future. This is the theme of maturity that is present throughout the movie, and it doesn't just apply to teenagers. It also applies to the changes society and near enough anything can go through, whether it be understanding of the world as a whole, social and political movements, and how we function as a species. This idea of maturity and change also applies to the theme of destruction and revelation, and how destruction and revelation can open up a whole new perspective to work from.

Akira (anime) film analysis part 1: The cycle of destruction

One of the first scenes the viewer is a faced with is the destruction of Tokyo at the hands of Akira. It is this scene that starts off the cycle of destruction. This event precedes the main story, but becomes prominent again when the exact same event occurs at the end of the film. This idea of time repeating its self is what sets up the main idea of destruction as a continual cycle. This cycle isn't dictated by anyone other than those who choose to repeat mistakes, either intentional or accidental. The main story's continouse use of imagery and themes regarding revolution, teenage delinquency, and political incompetence is all one huge build up to the inevitable destruction that happens at the end of the film. Even the films tag line in the trailer and on the poster mentions destruction " Neo-Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E".

The idea of destruction suggested by the film is that destruction of any kind, either physically or within society or politically, is more of a new beginning rather than a permanent end. Tokyo was destroyed and rebuilt, only to be destroyed again in the exact same manner. The destruction cycle would then mean that the society that is left from Neo Tokyo will rebuilt again, and as before there will be problems which will destroy it again, either physically or through problems of its economy. It will then be rebuilt again, and the cycle will keep going as long as there are people willing to rebuilt it.

The build up to destruction of any kind can occur both physically, economically, or sociologically. All three of these things are prevalent in Akira. Neo-Tokyo is going through a political crisis, and that crisis is causing the public to revolt. The revolution is causing chaos in the streets and in turn the police are enforcing a heavy crackdown. And combined with that is anti social devastation from delinquent biker gangs that wage war against each other. Its things like that which are the build up to destruction, and from this destruction there will be huge changes.

Akira's end credits show that Tetsuo, after being taken away from Neo-Tokyo, became a big bang which created a new solar system and universe. This also heavily suggests a cycle of destruction, and how destruction isnt a complete end. For Tetsuo to create this new universe he had to be the cause of the destruction of Neo Tokyo. The final result is that from the destruction of a city, a new universe was created.

Akira uses the idea of destruction as being a form of inevitable change for society, or even an entire civilization. It shows how from the ashes of destruction at the end of a social boiling point, there can still be the ability to recreate and rebuild. Akira's destruction of Tokyo is like a symbolic revelation that marks huge changes, out with the old, in with the new. To rebuilt something to be better or different it must first be destroyed and then rebuilt, which is exactly what happens with Tokyo in the film. It suggests that when politicians cant fix the problems, when the people rise up, and when chaos erupts that there has to be change through a great revelation, which acts as a symbolic form of destruction.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The live action Akira movie, a sign of even more Hollywood incompetence.

The synopsis for the america live action Akira movie was recently released, and it brings a few unwelcome changes to the source material along with it. here is the synopsis.

"Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother, Tetsuo, is abducted by government agents led by The Colonel. Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join with Ky Reed and her underground movement who are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City thirty years ago when it was destroyed. Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous but after finding his brother again, is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers. Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy, Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind. Kaneda clashes with The Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira but arrives too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo as Kaneda races in to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island, as he did thirty years ago."

The first change that is clear is the changing of Kaneda from a teenage delinquent to a bar owner. This was probably done due to the actors being older, but that doesn't mean he still cant be the leader of a biker gang. The opening bike sequence from the anime is a fantastic display of kinetic action and brute force on bikes. It demonstrated the harsh gang violence situation plaguing Neo-Tokyo, and at the same time further conveyed Akira's themes. Changing Kaneda to a bar owner possibly means a sequence like this will not be appearing, but also means that some of the source materials themes will be missing, which is very disappointing.

The other disappointing change is that the film be be set in Neo-Manhattan rather than Neo-Tokyo. once again this removes the heavy Japanese themes form the manga and anime. The setting of Neo-Tokyo explores themes ranging from the atomic bombing of japan all the way to its post war crisis. You cant just abolish those themes in favor of a different setting, because in the process you make the prevalent themes form the source material completely pointless.

Tetsuo's role is also different. He is Kaneda's brother and he is being used to release Akira, rather than going on a rage fueled rampage due his inferiority complex. He did seek Akira in the source material, but it was because of his own curiosity on the powerful being. This synopsis seems to suggest that the colonel and military want Akira to be released, while in the source material they are hell bent on stopping it. It says "Kaneda clashes with The Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira but arrives too late.". Why would the troops stop him from preventing Akira's release? do they want Neo-Manhattan destroyed?. This also changes an aspect of the colonel's character. His character dislikes what his country has become, but he will do anything he can to stop its destruction. Here it seems like he is trying to release Akira to destroy Neo-Manhattan for unknown reasons.

The synopsis doesn't mention any of the political aspects of Akira, such as the revolution and the failure of the country's leaders to maintain the country's economic problems. If this means that those aspects will be also absent then it is another set of themes that will be missing.

In conclusion this short synopsis reveals a huge amount of things that have been changed and abolished. So far this film seems like a huge insult to all of Akira's fans and its legacy. It also seems like Hollywood doesn't understand the films themes, or why they resonate with an audience. Its seems like they saw the keywords "government" and" destruction" and pieced together the plot from that. Akira is a lot more than just a story about a rage fueled teenager using his powers to destroy things, its also about the nature of civilization and how tampering with a greater power or failing to control one can lead to civilizations destruction. It portrayed the apocalypse as the end of a civilization, but also as the start of a new one, where society can rebuild as long as competent people lead the revolution.

 It almost showed destruction and economic turnmoil as not being the ultimate end, but being the a way into a new beginning. It treated it like a cycle where the end is still followed by a beginning in which a new society rises from the ahses and rebuilds itself. The manga and anime's themes still have meaning today, with economy's in disaster, revolution in the streets, and the military crossing the line. only time will tell if the film will be any good, buts whats for certain is that Hollywood is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E.