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Soak Up the Masterful Use of Light in Legendary Anime, 'Akira'

Stunning sequences of spotlights, neon, and lasers highlight creator Katsuhiro Ôtomo's brilliance.

by Beckett Mufson
30 November 2016, 6:30pm

Screencaps via

Attention to detail is crucial to Akira creator Katsuhiro Ôtomo's style, one aspect of which The Nerdwriter points out in a new video about the film's mesmerising use of light. Neo-Tokyo is a city brimming with illuminated windows, police spotlights, and luscious neon. The way each character interacts with light, from motorcycle headlights to control panels, says something about their personality or place in society. Without the shortcuts of modern computer graphics, each glimmer in Akira's 2,122 shots was animated with old school cel animation.

The Nerdwriter's Evan Puschak explains the implications of drawing so much shining, shimmering, and glowing light in the film essay, entitled Akira: How to Animate Light. "When you have to draw light 24 times in every second of a two hour movie, it must be the case that you gain a new appreciation of how it can tell a story of its own," he says. "That's what Ôtomo and his crew have done in Akira." Ôtomo's mastery has inspired countless other anime, sci-fi icons like Blade Runner, and even a grassroots live action fan film called The Akira Project. Soak in a few stunning examples of his excellent use of light in the images below, then scroll to the bottom to watch the video.

See more of The Nerdwriter's videos here.

Related:

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'Akira Project' Director Teases a New Cyberpunk Action Film

Tagged:
filmmaking
Animation
akira
Anime
light
supercut
film essay
the nerdwriter