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Monday, March 2, 2015

AKIRA (1988) - PP035

"Neo-Tokyo is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E."

Join the Popcorn Poops this week as they kick off their month of anime films with Katsuhiro Otomo's AKIRA from 1988. This week's movie was Dustin's pick.

Tune in and listen to Dustin and Jessica discuss the politics at the center of this classic film, discover who has the most satisfying character arc, and attempt to make sense of that notorious ending!

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  1. Want to say thanks for the great podcast, enjoyed listening. Also I have one comment to make. Dustin said that it feels strange that the movie did not go into exploring the conflict between religious groups and science. I think you meant that the movie didn't show religious reactionism, that there weren't any clashes between intentions of religious groups and scientists. And later in the podcast you both said that it is just a Japanese thing, that they don't have this sort of conflict. I think they actually did show this situation where science and religion cross pretty well. True, they did not show the situation that we all are so used to - when science come deeper and deeper into the topics that were traditionally covered only by philosophy and religion. And they didn't go there because they wanted to show a different situation, a situation where religion comes to discuss topics brought up by science.

    Even with modern science we have this situation, where scientists have good knowledge about how certain things work, but this knowledge is basically unreachable for a regular individual. You need to have very good education and put in a lot of work on top of that to understand the results that modern science gets. So for most people there is a need of translation, an interpretation of those results. You see that in popular science books and tv shows. And how those interpretations work - they use metaphors, draw parallels and what not. That is not science anymore, it is something else. So in Akira, where science is portrayed as something that literary changes humans into some transcendent beings the interpretation of this science is also grotesque and becomes a religious cult.

    Sorry for a wordy comment.

    1. Hello, Dustin here.

      Thanks for the great comment! I must say, you've got a very interesting reading on the film. Taking your interpretation into account, I'm having a hard time thinking of radical real-world examples of pernicious misinterpretations of science that aren't already predicated on a dogmatic structure of some kind. The closest I can think of is maybe Scientology, where the work of a science fiction writer was the impetus for a belief system.

      I suppose you could say that many climate change deniers may fall into this category, but I find that their particular brand of fact-misappropriation is largely influenced by a ethos that's already in place, namely conservatism or Christianity. There is nothing in AKIRA to suggest that the religious group it portrays was organized in any way before the catastrophic event in 1988, something that is seemingly central to real-world cases of scientific gerrymandering.

      I think your interpretation actually touches on something that I didn't think of before, and that is the creation of myth and legend. Ancient peoples created mythology to explain the world around them in a way that their contemporary sciences could not. Although you didn't state it outright, I think it's a fair interpretation of how the religious group in AKIRA has responded to the events of the film–events that they can't explain with their limited knowledge. So, what do they do? The same thing that the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians did. They mythologize it.

      Thanks again for the great comment. It facilitated my seeing the movie in a way I didn't before.