Akira is an animated feature film that was released in 1988. It has since become a media icon for all futuristic anime movies. It revolutionized the anime industry because the creators took great care to make sure that the lips matched up with the vocal track. Before this, most animes had wooden-like characters, whose voices and faces were almost expressionless. Akira was pre-recorded and the animators did their best to make the characters seem realistic.
Akira is set in the made-up world of Neo-Tokyo in 2019. According to the story, World War III destroyed Tokyo in 1988. In the beginning of the movie, Kaneda, the leader of a band of bikers, gets into a battle with a street posse known as the Clowns. His best friend, Tetsuo Shima, is in the battle with them, and is shocked when he stumbles upon a child who looks like an old man. Right after he sees the child, his motorcycle explodes in a fiery blast. Soldiers come and take the child, named Takashi, and Tetsuo to their labs. Tetsuo is studied and is found to have extremely strong psychokinetic powers.
The government has built a secret lab expressly for the purpose of studying children with these powers, and that was where Takashi had escaped from. A colonel that is studying Tetsuo mentions that Tetsuo is strong enough to become another Akira. Tetsuo delves into this and discovers that World War III was started when Akira, a child that the government had been studying, caused the blast that destroyed Tokyo.
All types of experiments are preformed on Tetsuo, and eventually he collapses and has to be taken to the hospital. The Colonel, meanwhile, heads to a secret facility where Akira still lives. He has been cryogenically frozen to keep him from destroying anything else. Tetsuo, meanwhile, starts to have strange, hallucinogenic dreams. Tetsuo gets free of the hospital and starts to move around Neo-Tokyo, creating destruction every where he goes. Kaneda, who has joined the resistance forces to fight the militarian government, finds himself standing against Tetsuo. While he is battling him, the Colonel uses a large laser and manages to cut off Tetsuo’s arm.
Tetsuo survives the battle, and has even managed to fashion a new arm for himself. The new arm is more like a giant, blobby creature that seems to have a mind of its own. The children that have been studied, called Espers, leave the facility and head to Akira’s resting place, intent on freeing him to stop Tetsuo. Kaneda finds himself fighting Tetsuo again, but Tetsuo’s powers have magnified and he turns into a huge monster and tries to eat him.
Akira, who has sensed the strength in Tetsuo, explodes out of his resting place. Tetsuo, meanwhile, has realized that he is unable to control what is happening and pleads for Kaneda’s help. Kaneda risks his life to save his friend, but Akira takes control of the situation and makes sure that Tetsuo will never harm another person or thing, however unintentionally, again.