Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 Manga classic resurfaced in the headlines recently with talk of a western live-action remake. Some were rankled by the mooted casting option (Robert Pattinson, Justin Timberlake…), feeling they missed the point of a quintessentially Japanese tale. No one, however, seemed to worry about the daunting task of actually remaking this film, the colossal scale of which makes ‘Avatar’ look simple.
The limitless nature of animation remains purpose-fit for this city-raising futuro-fantasy about a floppy-fringed retinue of cyberpunk bikers and their dealings with a group of telekinetic sages. To cut a long story short, the film places a rivalry between road-racing teenage screw-ups Kaneda and Tetsuo against a ‘Blade Runner’-like backdrop of Neo-Tokyo, a city in the midst of a rebuild after the metropolis was nuked at the end of World War III. Satellites are hurled to Earth, scores of foot soldiers are turned into mash and a half-built Olympics stadium acts as a giant bowl for a stomach churning man-machine mutation.
It’s a towering achievement of imagination and the detail of each frame is a miracle of film artistry. Yet there are elements that don’t hold up so well: Otomo favours spectacle above all else, so of the supporting players, none feels truly integral to the story. We see the death of one crooked politico, but his crookedness is generic (he resembles a rat holding a briefcase of banknotes). Still, if you haven’t seen it, prepare to have your gob well and truly smacked.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Katsuhiro Otomo, Izo Hashimoto, Katsuji Misawa|