If you don’t know, cyberpunk, tech-noir, sci-fi and other things dealing with humanoid and robotic transmutation are some of my favorite genres. One particular manga and animated movie that fits into that category is Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. This piece is about why Akira should get a well made and proper game in the 21st century.
As it stands now, I’m pretty pumped for Blade Runner 2049, and there’s no doubt that it will inspire a lot of people to get creative and create their own projects based on or similar to Denis Villeneuve’s film. It’ll obviously reinvigorate sci-fi as a whole and cyberpunk content through various mediums to produce content across movies, TV shows and video games, which includes both big and small studios alike.
In addition to the above, we’ll likely see companies churn out battle royale cyberpunk games, MOBA tech-noir games, and hero shooters that are always online featuring set within the genre. We also can’t forget that there will likely be more walking sims in set place, too. Sadly, shady practices like microtransactions nestled into the above games will surely find a way to cash-in on said theme… if the games become a major hit.
With that all said, there is one person who decided not to go about milking his work further, whether it is considered a failure or a success, and that person happens to be Katsuhiro Otomo.
Otomo always kept true to his passion, and that was to create something unique. And if it sticks? Move on to something else and do the same for that other genre. So in other words, when Akira became popular, instead of cashing-in on it he decided to move on and push innovation by collaborating with others. We see this with Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, Steam Boy, Cannon Fodder and in his manga-style story book titled Hipira.
So with that said, why does Akira need a game if a lot of the devs out there want to nickel-and-dime gamers based on a property that currently has no bearing on the gaming industry? Well, actually in some cases, Akira did and still does have an impact on video games, and here is why it should receive a properly made game.
Akira And Video Games
Akira had some video games in the past that did not do well at all and most of those games had playability issues. With that said it needs a game to do it justice. However, one game almost came close to being as ambitious Otomo’s work, which features the likes of the manga and animated movie.
Thanks to YouTuber Unseen64, we can see the animated intro and gameplay from the cancelled Akira 16-bit game, which comes from CES 1994 and recorded by PS Nation. The game was planned to ship across the SNES, SEGA Genesis, and other platforms.
The other influence that Akira had on gaming that gamers proclaim to be fun is Monolith Productions’ F.E.A.R. Yes, Akira, as noted by F.E.A.R.’s lead designer and writer Craig Hubbard, did inspire the creation of Alma Wade and various other story elements in the game. There are other notable things that Akira has contributed to across video games, but the idea is that it was and still is very influential no matter the medium.
The Music Of Akira
When you think of cyberpunk you think of New Wave, Synth Wave and other electronic sounds that resembles Daft Punk, Vangelis, and Jan Hammer. But that does strike a question, what kind of music would Akira have it were a game? Well, I’ll tell you, the same music as the movie.
Akira’s original soundtrack was recorded by Geinoh Yamashirogumi. The music, however, was composed and conducted by musical director Shoji Yamashiro — who at times goes by the pseudonym of Tsutomu Ohashi.
The music in the movie constantly recycles the tracks “Kaneda”, “Battle Against Clown” and “Exodus From the Underground Fortress”. The score is basically sequenced in the same order that the music appears in the film, however the actual soundtrack is something that still holds weight to this very day.
Knowing that the band or group behind Akira’s OST consisted of hundreds of journalists, doctors, engineers, students, businessmen, and so on from around the world, the music was able to blend a white assortment of sounds like percussion, xylophones, and bamboo flutes mingled with a library of string instruments.
Let’s look over the music in Akira and why it still holds up when in compared to just slapping some EDM or synth sounds to it. First we have my favorite track “Exodus From the Underground Fortress”. The music mixes the rushing sound of “escape” with Gamelan, European progressive rock and Jegog. The track below (and the three others) come in courtesy of Joel LeTroll.
The next piece of music has a lot of emotion to it. Deep breathing, noticeable inhales, and a sporadic sounding drum track that plays over the spiritual Japanese percussion throughout with hints of the track “Kaneda” in it. This sound is known as “Battle Against Clown”.
The next track that fits the futuristic cyberpunk world of Akira comes in as Tetsuo’s theme. Thematic, in your face, subtle, royal, low, and destructive all at the same time. The piece fits Tetsuo’s personality best and summarizes his behavior in the manga quite well.
The most epic sounding of them all? Kenada. The piece seems to encapsulate the boisterous hero’s persona of being outgoing and anti-authority. The music emulates the sound of a ground-swelling tectonic rush; the vocals consisting of aboriginal sounds feature the names of each character being displayed with Rasera (meaning destruction in Northern European/Scandinavia) or Rassera (which is something that is chanted during the Nebuta Festival in Aomori that happens to be a shorten dialectal version of “irasshai”) can be heard throughout the track.
The score to Akira is original much like Otomo’s work, and almost cannot be found anywhere else during the year of 1988 or beyond. This is the type of music that should be in an Akira game.
Developers Who Should Make An Akira Game
I don’t have specific developer in mind, but they should boast the same attitude as Otomo and should work closely with him to develop the game. I do, however, know a group of devs that could help with the graphical side of Akira, though, which I believe Arc System Works would be a perfect fit. If we take a look at Guilty Gear Xrd and Dragon Ball FighterZ we can see how cartoon-ish they look, which is something that Arc could implement into an Akira game.
Japan and the 2020 Olympics
Back in 1982 it was featured in the manga of Akira that Japan would hold the 2020 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad or commonly referred to as Tokyo 2020. I mean, come on, it would only be fitting if the manga and animated movie got a proper game adaptation to be a special tribute to Japan’s hosting of said event.
Lastly, it would be nice if Akira had a proper game that had devs like Otomo on board, because it would show that it isn’t just about scamming gamers but about making something worthwhile. Sadly, though, a video game adaptation may never happen.
Since I don’t want to end on a bad note, you can watch two videos explaining the sound notes behind Akira the movie.