A Pulp-Style Pop Epic

TITLE: AKIRA

DIRECTOR: KATSUHIRO OTOMO

DISTRIBUTOR: VOYAGER/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

THE BOTTOM LINE: Berserk graphic imagery and a tempering idealism make for a real sci-fi skull buster.

With the very first scene, all the huggy-warmy feelings usually associated with animated features take a nose dive. This futuristic movie on laser disc is a virtuoso piece of speculative fiction, a violent adventure tale, a head- bending sci-fi morality play and a venture into the higher realms of animation art that kicks all the squishier conventions of the genre right in their well-upholstered butt.

There are no handsome princes or yearning princesses, no talking-animal...

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