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AKIRA (1988) – Episode 220 – Decades of Horror 1980s

“Tetsuo is our friend. If anyone is going to kill him, it should be us.” That’s what friends are for, right? Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, Crystal Cleveland, and Jeff Mohr  – as they take on the Decades of Horror universe’s first anime in Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira (1988).

Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 220 – Akira (1988)

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A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by a teenager, his gang of biker friends, and a group of psychics.

Akira is Chad’s pick and it completely blew his mind as he watched it for the first time with his mouth hanging open. It’s not just the animation that still captures his attention. It’s also the excellent stories and characters, the relationships, and how it leaned into body horror during the confrontation between Kaneda and Tetsuo. There is so much going on that it’s a treat to sit down and watch it. Akira keeps getting better every time he experiences it.

Crystal also loves the characters and their relationships depicted in the oppressed society of Akira. Those psychic kids messed her up and the animation is great, but it’s really the story that makes it special. Bill prefers watching Akira in the original Japanese language with English subtitles, adding that this beautiful and influential film is an unrelenting and brutal bloodbath of a film in which no character is safe. Akira is the first anime Jeff’s seen with the exception of the original Astro Boy TV series (1963-1965) and he, too, is blown away. There seemed to be no top end as the story, color, and animation just kept ramping up. He’s so glad Chad chose this film.

In general, the 80s Grue Crew prefers the version with Japanese language and English subtitles, but it is difficult to take in the visual feast while reading subtitles. At the time of this writing, Akira is available to stream from Hulu, Funimation, and Tubi, and on physical media as a Blu-ray disc or 4K UHD from Funimation.

Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Jeff, will be David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981). You know… the one with the scene?

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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.