Akira & Japan (preface)

Introduction

The aim of this project is to ask: in what ways does the anime Akira explore the relationship between Japan and technology, from the post-war period up to the film’s release in 1988 and even beyond.  Can the anime be textually analysed?  What I attempt in this dissertation is to justify reading this text in the manner of a film, applying conventional film theory to a feature length animation from another country.  To deconstruct it, discover embedded codes and derive meaning from them.

Anime is something unique that belongs to Japan, it has a certain style and is respected as not only entertainment but an important art form in of itself, it will be important for me to gauge why this is in the early chapters, to chart its birth and progress, before textually analysing one of the most praised anime films in history.

How I go about this analysis is covered in chapter three where I outline my methodology, which involves a detailed analysis covering genre and image representation, all the while keeping context in mind, referring to Japan’s history of the last hundred years, and the director’s own words.

The main findings of this dissertation should hopefully show the validity of such an undertaking, that every thing in the anime is put there for a reason, and the medium is used to its full potential to show visions that can’t be shown in live action.  Akira comments on Japan, and its relationship with modernity that was pushed upon it more than a hundred years ago, I hope to explore and show how it does this.

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