Nuclear Akira

In our last class we began discussing Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal work Akira and how it spawned from the nuclear attacks on Japan during World War 2. Due to the time constraints of the class we were unable to fully discuss that subject in full so I decided to go online and see what other people were saying of the connection between WW2 and media coming out of Japan. Reed Johnson said that, “Practically all world cultures have produced creation and destruction myths, stories and imagery that herald new beginnings or prophesy imminent doom. But few rival Japan for the sheer profusion and specificity of such narratives (Johnson). Because of the sheer amount of destruction that took place in Japan the, “devastation remained at the forefront of their conscience” which made part of the healing process come through, “this imagery in literature, in music and art” (Fuller). Even years later the effects of the bombs dropping in Japan still comes through. Frank Fuller listed that three media themes became popular due to this. These being the monster theme (Godzilla), the orphan theme (Grave of Fireflies), and the mutants theme (El Cazador de la Bruja). Thus Akira, which ends with a giant bomb detonating in Tokyo, falls in line with media that was already being created because of the WW2.

(c) Katsuhiro Otomo
(c) Katsuhiro Otomo

We noted in class the amount of violence and gore present in Akira and how disturbing it was to read and yet, it can be argued that Otomo’s choice to do so went beyond the aesthetic or narrative reasons and more into the psychological framework of Japan post WW2 in which such violence is not unheard of because Japan itself has been the victim of a terrifying level of violence in the past thus making Akira not a work that is meant to disturb but a work that is meant to heal. It will be interesting to discuss the work further next class and see what other have to say on Akira

  1. Fuller, Frank. “The Deep Influence Of The A-Bomb On Anime And Manga.” – Digg. Digg, 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.


  2. Johnson, Reed. “Japan Crisis Evokes Comparisons to Its Pop Culture Disaster Narratives, Historic Events.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.