MOVIE REVIEW : 'Akira': High-Tech Hokum From Japan

"Akira" (at the Westside Pavilion), a Japanese animated feature based on Katsuhiro Otomo's popular comic books about a teen-age motorcycle gang, is a compendium of the worst cliches of Japanese animation--two hours of chases, laser attacks, machine-gun battles, spilled stage blood, computer-animated backgrounds and hokey dialogue.

Buried in the morass is a story of sorts, but anyone who isn't well-grounded in the Akira comics, which are set in post-apocalypse Tokyo, circa AD 2030, will be hopelessly lost by the end of the first half-hour.

Otomo, who wrote and directed the movie, has told interviewers that he set out to "make a film that would be a jumble of images, instead of just showing the highlights of each scene," and on that score, he succeeded. "Akira" is a jumble of high-tech visuals that will appeal only to hard-core Japanese animation fans. Viewers in search of a coherent narrative or polished animation should look elsewhere.

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