From Breaking Bad’s arrogant, embittered Walter White to Conan the Barbarian’s titular brute, the masculine urge to dominate is a prevalent narrative force in popular art. How many movies and shows consist more or less solely of men struggling with one another for control over a lover, a kingdom, a company? Katsuhiro Otomo’s legendary 1988 animated sci-fi feature Akira, a brutal film about a futuristic Tokyo gripped by unrest and corruption, a gang of rough-edged young biker punks, and the mysteries surrounding a group of children with terrifying psychic powers, delves deep into this stock element of so much action-driven fiction, probing at the seldom-touched origins of masculine violence with surprising poignancy.
A city of the future then, and of the “now” today. An oppressive metropolis lined with flashing neon. Relentlessly tough streets ravaged by teenagers consumed in a cycle of violence and debauchery intrinsic to their dystopian society, an ethos of cataclysmic revolution seeping up through the sewer grates and into the street.
Rainy, cloud covered grey skies, towering skyscrapers, neon lights, muted colors and a dim prognostication of our future: if this type of imagery brings to mind certain anime titles, you may be surprised to learn that many of them share a unlikely common origin. While not the only film to ever influence anime, and certainly not the only sci-fi film to do so, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shares an inordinate amount of importance in developing many of the anime classics we know today, and influencing many of anime’s biggest directors.