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Anime Movie Review: "Akira" (1988)

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"Akira" 4K blu-ray limited edition official cover art.

"Akira" 4K blu-ray limited edition official cover art.

Quick Info

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Studio: Funimation Entertainment, formerly Geneon Entertainment
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Runtime: 124 minutes
Availability: On DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack (4K Blu-Ray, is out of print due to bad encoding and video quality), buy on Amazon or RightStufAnime, streaming on FunimationNow, Hulu, and TubiTV

Story Summary

In 2019 in the city of Neo-Tokyo, two teenagers Shotaro Kaneda and Tetsuo Shima are part of a biker gang who encounter a strange boy with superpowers that escaped from the facility where he was being held. He unintentionally sets off a chain of events that lead to Tetsuo becoming another experiment for the army, and sets off a conflict between Tetsuo and Kaneda.

AKIRA - 25th Anniversary Edition - Available Now - Trailer

This Film Is Still Confusing

I still haven’t figured out exactly what happened in this film. It’s not easy to understand exactly what is going on because the ending is very bizarre and not easy to understand.

The story is interesting, along with the characters, I find them to be very entertaining. I can’t really say that the characters are “fun”, but they’re very well written and go through their own journey.

Don't ask me what's going on, I still don't know!

Don't ask me what's going on, I still don't know!

The Science Fiction Elements Are Very Interesting

The science-fiction elements of Akira are very interesting. It does have some interesting ideas, but they’re very confusing. It does have some interesting ideas, but they don’t make a whole lot of sense.

If you want to watch a film with some unique ideas involving science fiction, you’ll really enjoy this movie. It is an interesting but confusing take on science fiction.

The Animation Still Looks Amazing!

The animation is from 1988, and while it’s an old film, there’s something special about cell animation, probably because a lot of animation is done using computers these days, it’s obvious this was hand-drawn and it looks fantastic. It doesn’t look too told, but it is very different compared to modern animation in anime, but it’s still stunning animation. The fight scenes look amazing.

The fact that the animation still looks good to this day is a testament to hand-drawn animation. It still holds up today and it shows the talents of the animators. Akira also set the bar for anime films when it was first released and it's still an important movie, both to movie buffs and anime fans alike.

The animation for Akira is amazing. Sure, it’s one thing to have an anime movie with great animation; it’s another thing for the animation to all be hand-drawn. The animation for Akira is astounding because it’s a two-hour film that was all drawn by hand and it must have taken years to create.

It holds up very well compared to modern anime today, and I think it’s because you can see all the hard work put into every frame of the movie, not that digital animation isn’t made without hard work from the animators, but there’s something that will always be special about hand-drawn animation that digital animation just can’t do today.

Audio and Subtitles



English (Funimation, Hulu)

English Animaze Dub (Reviewed) (Streaming on FunimationNow, TubiTV, Hulu), Streamline dub on disc

The English Dub Is Fine

The English dub that I’m reviewing is the Pioneer/Geneon dub as I’ve not seen the Streamline dub at all.

Johnny Yong Bosch did a fantastic job as Shotaro Kaneda. He did a great job in this anime and I really enjoyed his work. He is always entertaining to listen to as a voice actor.

If you enjoy Johnny’s voice work, you’ll enjoy hearing him in Akira. It isn’t his most famous role but he did a great job, and he’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the movie.

I love Joshua Seth as Tetsuo Shima. He is fantastic in this role and I really love his voice acting in this film. I always enjoy anime that he voice acts in and since he retired I really don’t get to hear him in anime a lot since he became a mentalist.

It’s always fun to hear Joshua Seth and if you enjoyed his work, you’ll enjoy him in Akira. He’s a great voice actor but he got burned out on voice acting and changed careers, but he did a great job in this film.

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Wendee Lee is a voice acting veteran and she’s also an excellent voice actress known for her roles in Cowboy Bebop and Haruhi Suzumiya. Her work is definitely stellar and she did a fantastic job in this movie. She did a stellar voice acting as Kei. She’s always fun to listen to when I hear dubbed animation that isn’t dubbed by Funimation Entertainment.

James Lyon is great as the Colonel. He did a great job and his character is very interesting. He was good for this role and I did like his performance in this film.

Bob Papenbrook, the late father of Bryce Papenbrook did an excellent job voice acting as the Councilman. He was great in this film.

Simon Isaacson was interesting as The Doctor. He was an interesting character and he seemed to want to make sure the kids were taken care of and while they were experiments, he wanted to make sure they were safe, unlike the Colonel, who only saw them as weapons and didn’t really care if they were well taken care of as long as they could contain the power of Akira.

Reader Poll:

The Music Is Great!

Geino Yamashiro Gumi composed the soundtrack for Akira and the soundtrack is amazing. I’ve never heard any music like the music in Akira. The music is so unique and interesting that I’ve never heard anime soundtracks like

The music for this film is amazing. It’s so unique that I haven’t heard anything like it before. It’s very different from a lot of anime soundtracks and that’s what makes it stand out to me.

The Ending Confused Me

I still don't understand what happened at the end of this film even reading a summary of the ending didn't help. I still don't know exactly what happened. And that's the major flaw of this movie. Things aren't explained clearly because they cut out a lot of what happened in the manga.

If you're looking for a story that makes sense, Akira is not that movie. It's not a bad film, it's just very confusing at the end. All these years later, and I still don't understand what happened.

This Is One That Is Old but Good

It's an old anime classic that made a huge impact, not just on anime fans, but filmgoers as well. It's one that is a must-watch if you want to talk about classic anime and pieces with historical impact on anime today.

It's old but it's good and doesn't have a larger than life reputation in the anime community and fandom for nothing.

I really enjoyed this movie, even if it was very trippy and I was confused by what happened at the end of the movie. It was still a very interesting film and I'm glad I watched it. It's not the best movie I've ever watched, mainly because the ending didn't make sense to me at all. But it's still something everyone should watch at least once, because of it's cultural significance.

It does have the problem of having an incoherent ending that I had to read about to understand. It's odd and bizarre imagery might make some people dislike the film but that's all up to your personal preference.

It's not one of my favorite anime films, but it was an interesting experience that I can't quite explain myself. It's one of those films you have to see for yourself, and not just so you can say that you watched it.

An iconic moment in "Akira".

An iconic moment in "Akira".


This movie has been in and out of print for a very long time. Fortunately, anime fans can now buy this movie and DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack thanks to Funimation licensing the movie. It aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block and is available on Funimation’s Elite Video Streaming site if you pay $7.95 a month. It’s a very well done movie that grabs your attention and leaves you with a lot to think about when it’s over. It can also be very confusing, especially the ending, but it’s well worth seeing at least once, especially if you like anime.

It is available for streaming on Funimation's website and Hulu in the original Japanese or the Animaze English dub.

Funimation Entertainment released a special Steelbook collector's edition of the movie so if you collect special editions, you'll want to pick it up for your anime collection.

The DVD/Blu-Ray has both the original English dub and the Animaze English dub, along with the original Japanese dub with English subtitles.

It’s worth having in your movie collection, whether you like anime movies or not. It’s worth having in your movie collection, whether you like movies in general or you’re a diehard anime fan, Akira is a classic that deserves to be watched, even if you’re confused at the end of it.

Funimation botched the 4K release of Akira because they didn't encode it in UHD so they said they will send out replacement discs in February. If you have purchased this version of Akira you should contact Funimaton concerning replacement discs.

What Works: What Doesn't Work:

Interesting Story and characters

Massively confusing ending

Animation still looks amazing

Some things need to be explained and aren't

The Voice Acting is good


Final Grade B+

While it is a marvel of animation I don't praise it as much as other critics but it is a title that is worth your time to watch it, but I'm not going to oversell it to you, whether you think it's the best anime movie you've ever watched is up to you.

It is "overhyped" with the praise of being one of the best anime films ever made, but if you go in with your expectations too high you might end up being disappointed. Just expect to watch a good movie and you should be able to enjoy Akira without being overhyped by all the praise it receives from fans and critics alike.

It was very much worth my time, I might get it for my own blu-ray collection eventually.

My Rating

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