Sunday, June 12, 2011

Phil attends the Cult Movie Series screening of AKIRA at the Camera 3-June 11, 2011

For years I was a big fan and supporter of the Camera Cinemas' Midnight Movie series. From May til the end of September, they would show popular, cult and horror films at midnight every week at two locations: The Camera 7 Pruneyard on Friday night and the Camera 12 on Saturday night. For over six years I would be there, winning prizes and watching some true film classics such as EVIL DEAD 2THE PRINCESS BRIDETHE PROFESSIONAL, and REPO:THE GENETIC OPERA. This past February it was reformatted and rechristened as the Cult Movie series. Now they show the same film twice a month (Thursday nights at 9:30 and Saturday nights at 11:30) at the Camera 3 in downtown San Jose, and it now continues until November. For month number five, the series screened one of the most important anime films all time. With the exception of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, no other animated film has changed the landscape of cinema and has had a huge influence on pop culture. Make no mistake, AKIRA was and still is the standard that to which all other anime films are measured by.

Original Movie Poster (1988)
Based off the manga graphic novel by Katsuhiro Otomo (who also directed the film) of the same name, AKIRA is set in the futuristic world of Neo-Tokyo in the year 2019. The city has risen out of the ashes of World War III and now has become dark and dangerous megalopolis, infested with gangs and terrorists. The film's main character is biker gang member Shotaro Kaneda, who tries to prevent his best friend Tetsuo Shima from releasing Akira, a little boy with immense mental abilities who destroyed Tokyo decades before. Along the way, Kaneda befriends a young named Kei, a member of the terrorist Resistance. Soon it's up to them to stop his unstable and insane friend from unleashing mass destruction on Neo-Tokyo.

 The film was originally released in Japan on July 16, 1988 by distributor Toho. Soon the film was setting attendance records for an animated film all across the country. Shortly thereafter, a fledgling US film distribution company named Streamline Pictures picked up the rights to release the film here after both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg passed on the film, stating that it was unmarketable. The film had a limited release in theaters from late 1988 throughout 1989. But once it was released on VHS in 1991, the film found a new audience, and became a bona fide cult film.

In the beginning of the new millennium, the film was once brought into the spotlight. On July 24, 2001, the film was once again released to theaters, sporting a new digitally remastered picture and a brand new English dub. In 2002, distributor Manga released a two-disc DVD featuring the new Pioneer English dub version. In February of 2009, the film was finally released on Blu-Ray.

AKIRA is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation as well as filmmaking in general. After the film's release, anime films became hugely popular, finding new audiences here in America. Films such as GHOST IN THE SHELL, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, PRINCESS MONONOKE, and BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE have all become huge hits. Anime television shows like ROBOTECH series, VOLTRON,  DRAGON BALL-Z, and POKEMON have all penetrated the youth pop culture like no other fad has done before. There are now anime conventions all across the country. Anime fashion has become popular as well. But in the end, none of these would be here if not for AKIRA. A couple of years ago, a film critic once said, "There was before AKIRA, and there was after AKIRA. AKIRA changed the world forever." I whole-heatedly concur with that statement.

To purchase your copy of AKIRA on Blu-Ray and DVD, visit

To learn more about Camera Cinemas' Cult Movie series, upcoming films, showtimes, etc, visit

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

No comments:

Post a Comment