Director: Katsuhiro Otomo (Japan)
Japanese artist-director Katsuhiro Otomo started work on the film version of his 2,300-page cyberpunk manga comic Akira before it was finished.
Co-written by Otomo with Izo Hashimoto, it is a kinetic, chaotic sci-fi story set in the high-tech futuristic city of Neo-Tokyo in the aftermath of the Third World War, where teen biker Tetsuo is running riot with his friend Kaneda. When Tetsuo develops psychic powers and realises the government is kidnapping others like him, he battles with Kaneda to release psychic Akira.
In bringing Akira to the screen, Otomo used around 160,000 animation cels to create an incredibly detailed, smooth style of animation that had never before been seen. He also took the expensive decision to pre-score the dialogue, rather than record it when the animation was complete; this approach is now the norm in feature animation.
Akira remains one of the most vivid, technically accomplished animation films ever made, and can be credited with bringing cartoons to a sophisticated, cine-literate global audience.
Streamline Entertainment released Akira in the US, first theatrically and then on VHS, while the prestigious ICA screened it in the UK. The visual audacity and stylised violence of Akira has gone on to inspire a generation of Hollywood film-makers including the Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy), Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill), Rian Johnson (Looper) and Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight).