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General

  • Adaptation Displacement: The movie is undoubtedly more well known than the original manga. In part because the manga wasn't really localized in North America at least (and good luck finding all six volumes without resorting to eBay) and because it gave a big "fuck you" to the Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Especially regarding the roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo in the story.
  • Awesome Art
  • Designated Hero: Shotaro, at least in the beginning.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Kaori
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Akira depicted Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics, then there was a meeting in Buenos Aires during the IOC in 2013.
  • Hollywood Homely: A prominent example is Kai (aka Kaisuke), the necktie-clad biker from Kaneda's gang. Like Tetsuo, he's not drawn in Mr. Fanservice fashion, but a lot of people call him the Bishonen.
  • I Am Not Shazam: People who have seen covers for the movie or comic often mistake either Kaneda or Tetsuo for Akira since they are more prominent.
    • Also, there is a literal example in the first dubbed version of the movie. When Tetsuo hears the name Akira in his head, he shouts "I am not Akira!". This line was changed in later dubs.
      • And Akira's doomsday cult in the movie think he's Akira after he shows off his powers battling the army, a misconception Tetsuo is in no hurry to correct.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Tetsuo's had a pretty sucky life. And then he pulled all kinds of shit on others.
  • Memetic Mutation: TETSUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO * is shot*
  • Moe: Kaori, in a fair few ways (although the movie came out before the trope was really recognized). Like a lot of early examples from this time period, it doesn't end well for her.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Tetsuo crosses it when he kills Yamagata. Though in the manga it could be as early as when he takes over the Clowns.
    • He crosses this much earlier in the manga...since Yamagata and Taking over the Clowns happens in volume one. It Gets Worse from there... In the movie meanwhile this happens much later.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The giant toys in the movie, Tetsuo's mutation and Kaori's fate (among others).
  • Tear Jerker: Takashi's and Kaori's deaths.
    • Although, in the latter's case, viewers might be a bit too... distracted to feel sad.
      • The manga version of Kaori's death is very different than in the movie, and is more tragic than horrific.
  • Technology Marches On: While Katsuhiro Otomo was correct on how 2019 Japan wouldn’t much different than it was in the 1980s where both the Manga and film along with correctly predicting the nation hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, Akira isn’t entirely immune to this despite the cyberpunk manga and film having a cult following.
    • Kanda’s bike is one thing. The idea of a built-in computer that sounded hi-tech for the 1980s as a reminder the film’s genre. Today, automobiles with a computer built-in are now the norm in those built after the late-2000s.
    • There’s a scene where a girl, likely a roommate of Kaori, is taking on a payphone since a cell-phone in the late-1980s were still new and expensive considered the living condition she’s in. Today, cell-phones have become easier to afford and have improved to the point a payphone in 2019 seem out of place.
      • There’s also a scene where Colonel Shikishima also receive a phone, yet caller-ID seems to be missing somehow.
    • During the scene where Tetsuo learns about his newfound powers, attempts to censorship by the Japanese government would be near impossible thanks to smart phones and social media of the actual year of 2019.
    • In the classroom scene, Kanda is seen reading a magazine rather than a tablet that is common today.
    • Granted that Masaru does have Psychic Powers to control his wheelchair, but the idea of having the paraplegia with something like an exoskeleton-like device have been in been in the development since the late-1990s in where else… Japan.
  • Ugly Cute: Kyoko, Takashi and Masaru.
  • The Woobie: Kaori

Movie

  • Animation Age Ghetto: Despite that the movie was originally rated PG-13 in the U.S. (With the 2001 redub earning an "R" rating!) you can still find stores that put this in the "family" shelf. Other stores at least put it in the dedicated "Anime" section, leaving it to the person browsing the shelf to at least use their own discretion when searching for stuff to show their children.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Most of the soundtrack, but especially the opening/ending music, Kaneda.
  • Gateway Series: Towards anime. Steven Speilberg had claimed the movie to be Unmarketble in the U.S. due to the Animation Age Ghetto. This movie was rated PG-13 when the first dub hit the screens...in the 80s, this actually stood out a bit.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: As Tetsuo advances towards the city we see a young man standing down a tank, an anti-government demonstration, government censorship of the media, and the massacre of countless civilians. Remember that the movie was released in 1988. Do you know what happened in China the following year?
  • Narm: Bird-brain!
    • The 1988 dub has a bit of this, but in all honesty, that was actually not a bad dub for the time-being.
  • Nausea Fuel: You might want to stay away from meat for a while after watching Tetsuo's horrible mutation sequence at the end of the film.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Just narrowly averted with Kaneda and Kei's romance, because it's not really developed that much onscreen.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The 1988 dub. At the time, that was actually considered good. Some still do prefer that version because of Narm Charm.
  • Woolseyism: Tetsuo's "Bitchin'!" line.

 Kaneda: "Let's sit down and talk about the Revolution and stuff!"

Kaneda: "Hey, your bike's still burnin', man!"

Manga

  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Kaneda running up out of nowhere and punching Tetsuo HARD in the face during their fight at the stadium, before continuing to beat him into submission. See Deface of the Moon.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: The last images of the manga, as Kaneda and his surviving friends ride off into the ruins of Neo Tokyo, with memories of their deceased friends Tetsuo and Yamagata riding alongside them, while Neo-Tokyo symbolically rebuilds itself as they progress into it.
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