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Nowadays, anime has been around long enough for there to be a wide selection of movies to choose from in addition to TV shows and manga. It’s even vast enough for there to be multiple genres, with certain movies that best exemplify their specific genre. However, there are only a few anime movies that are universally seen as a “must watch” no matter what genre you like. Akira is one of those movies.
The main reason why Akira is considered to be so important is that when it comes to anime movies, Akira is one of if not arguably the most influential. Not only has it influenced western filmmakers and pop culture, but the themes, the characters, and the cyberpunk setting all come together to tell a very compelling story. In addition, a lot of the animation techniques used were pioneering at the time, leading to a lot of later anime that looked to Akira in order expand upon these techniques. Here are 6 examples of anime for you if you just can’t get enough Akira.
Similar Anime to Akira
1. Ghost in the Shell
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: November 18 , 1995
It’s impossible to discuss anime similar to Akira and not bring up Ghost in the Shell. First appearing as a movie in 1995, Ghost in the Shell has since expanded to include not only 3 more movies, but a TV show as well. It’s even expanding further, with another anime movie just released this year as well as a live adaptation in the works. The most recent iteration is Ghost in the Shell: AAA, which mainly retells the four movies in a new way as well as show new content to connect to the most recent movie.
Ghost in the Shell is set in the middle of the 21st century, where Major Motoko Kusanagi serves as part of Section 9, an elite task force whose purpose is to protect the city of Niihama. Technology has advanced to the point where the average citizen can have advanced technology be integrated with their brain in order to access various online networks. The Major, as she is usually referred to by her team, has had her brain been integrated with these advanced technological parts. In addition, the Major also has a full body prosthesis to support her “cyber brain”, making her a cyborg, and a deadly threat to any criminal that gets in her way.
The amount of similarities between Akira and Ghost in the Shell are numerous. Both Akira and Ghost in the Shell are very much engrained in the “cyberpunk” genre. Ghost in the Shell also explores deep themes much like Akira does; one of the themes they both share is the idea of losing one’s humanity and what exactly defines a human being. Both are action packed, with plenty of normal fights that take place as well as superhuman ones. Needless to say, it’s safe to say that Akira and Ghost in the Shell go hand in hand.
Ghost in the Shell - trailer
2. Elfen Lied
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 25, 2004 – October 17, 2004
Elfen Lied is a perfect example of a series that can be grand despite its short length. The story focuses on Lucy, a girl who brutally escapes the confines of her surroundings only to end up barely alive on a beach and with no memory of what’s happened. Found by two normal teenagers, Lucy does her best to recover, but the attempts by a special assault team assigned to bring her back to her facility as well as the return of her memories only brings nothing but trouble.
Elfen Lied shares a strong connection with Akira in terms of its test subjects. Both series focus on the experimentation on live subjects, adapting them with psychic abilities, and the consequences that happen as a result. Both series also tend to show an extensive amount of graphic violence as well as psychological violence. If you found yourself interested in the experiments conducted and the psychic abilities used in Akira, then you’ll find yourself enjoying Elfen Lied.
Elfen Lied trailer
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 12, 2012 – March 22, 2013
If you’re looking for an anime that somehow combines Akira and Ghost in the Shell, then Psycho-Pass would be your best bet. Set in the not-so-distant future, the world of Psycho-Pass is very dangerous. It has become possible to measure a human being’s emotions, dreams, and passions in a quantifiable way. The more negative these are for a person, the more likely they will be caught and disciplined. The series focuses on a group of policemen as they struggle to maintain public order and manage crime in a world where criminals try to fight and exploit this system.
One of the similarities between Psycho-Pass and Akira is their complex storylines. Psycho-Pass is very focused on staying on track with its story, which is a good thing, as you have to pay close attention to how the rules work in this world. You also have to pay attention to the motivations of the criminals themselves in order to understand what exactly is going on. Psycho-Pass also has its fair share of fights that are filled with gore, and the setting itself bears a resemblance to Akira. If you liked the complexity of the events in Akira, then this is definitely worth checking out, as well as the recent movie.
Psycho-Pass Season One Official Trailer
Any Animes Like Akira ?
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 17, 2004
Ray Steam is a young boy that lives in the United Kingdom who spends his time inventing, which makes sense, as his whole family is made up of inventors. The plot of the movie is set into motion when a mysterious invention from Ray’s grandfather arrives on Ray’s doorstep. Called the “Steam Ball”, the invention is one of great power, a power that many villains would like to get their hands on so they can use it for the wrong reasons. It’s up to Ray and his friend Scarlett to try and keep the Steam Ball out of the wrong hands.
Akira was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who made a lot of ground breaking decisions in adapting Akira to the big screen. As a result, we have the masterpiece that is Akira, and Steamboy was Otomo’s follow-up. If you are a fan of the animation style of Akira, then Steamboy is perfect, as it is very much similar to Akira not only in the particular style used to draw the characters, but also in the sequences used, such as the action scenes and the vast shots used to capture the scenery.
In addition, the setting itself is quite unique, as most anime are not set in the United Kingdom. But if you look closely, there are minor characters or locations in the backgrounds that very much appear as if they could belong in Akira. If you liked Otomo’s approach to how the apocalyptic scenes and the action sequences in Akira were set up, then you will enjoy the similar style he uses in Steamboy.
5. Tekkon Kinkreet
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: December 23, 2006
Tekkon Kinkreet is a movie about 2 orphan boys who are the best of friends. Whether it’s exploring Treasure Town for fun, beating up thugs, or just flying (you read that correctly), Kuro and Shiro do everything together. When mysterious entrepreneurs from a foreign land arrive in Treasure Town and decide to tear it down to make way for an amusement park, Kuro and Shiro naturally take it upon themselves to be the ones to stop them. But as they realize that these are their biggest adversaries ever, and as their relationship with one another begins to take a turn for the worst, Kuro and Shiro will have to decide what’s most important: themselves, or each other?
Without a doubt, Tekkon Kinkreet is a modern retelling of Akira’s story in its basic form. From the very beginning, we see Kuro and Shiro chasing a gang of boys away that is very much reminiscent of the opening of Akira. Both films seem to have settings that resemble a bleak environment where the gangs are in control, not the police, and both stories have the main characters fighting for something bigger than themselves. But ultimately the key similarity between Akira and Tekkon Kinkreet is the schism that occurs between the leader of the gang and a member that the leader protects, and the attempt to fix that schism. If the reason why you enjoyed Akira is because of the characters of Kaneda and Tetsuo and their relationship, then Tekkon Kinkreet perfectly exemplifies a similar struggle.
Tekkon Kinkreet (Subtitles) Trailer
- Episodes: 7
- Aired: November 24, 2006 – May 23, 2008
Set in the year 2267, Freedom is the story of Takeru, a young boy who spends his time racing his hovercraft against other rival gangs. However, things soon change when he is faced with the task of discovering the origin of Eden, the doomed megalopolis that was mankind’s first space colony on the moon before a cataclysmic environmental disaster devastated Earth. As one thing leads to another, Takeru soon learns that things are not as they appear…
Freedom is essentially Akira set in outer space. The characters and the technological aspects were designed by none other than Otomo himself, and although he didn’t write the story, it’s certainly similar enough in the sense that the main characters are living their normal lives until they stumble upon something much bigger than themselves. Due to the length of the series, it’s almost as if you’re watching another Akira movie of some sort. If you were a fan of the racing bike scenes from Akira as well as the basic plot, then Freedom is right up your alley.
Like all things we enjoy, there are different reasons why we enjoy something. When it comes to Akira, some people love how innovative the animation was and love watching similar styles. Others love how deep and meaningful the story was, and applaud how Akira was one of the first “cartoons” that focused on deeper themes and issues. Still others love the cyberpunk setting, inspiring a whole new generation to further develop this genre in a variety of ways.
Whatever the reason is, Akira will always be to anime what Citizen Kane has been to movies, and there will continue to be more examples in the future that will look to Akira as an influence. If you disagree with any of the choices or feel that something should have been included, let us know in the comments below!