Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Akira vs. Godzilla: A Promethean Battle

I watched the movie Akira and it was quite something. It isn't for everyone, but I thought it was really interesting. It's a japanese anime version of a manga comic. If you are into animation and sci-fi and don't mind a fair amount of violence, then this movie is for you. This is anime, but don't imagine something like Speed Racer or Kimba the White Lion. The scenery is really great, the action is pretty compelling, and the acting isn't campy.

Thematically, it reminded me of a Godzilla movie. As I recall, some of the Godzilla movies were all about how man's technology (e.g., nuclear weapons or pollution) would ultimately destroy the earth. Kaiju such as Godzilla and Mothra defended the earth from man-made problems. Note that they were NOT defending mankind. They were defending The Earth. When Akira cleansed Neo-Tokyo in the movie's finale, it reminded me of Godzilla on a rampage.

In Akira, I also saw a strong theme about how science tries to dig down to find truth, but ultimately delves into areas that cannot be measured or understood. This epistemological problem seems to be at the crux of what the movie is all about. This conflict is similar to what we read about in the original Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus or the more recent Jurassic Park. In this light, the finale is more like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein running amok or a T-Rex tearing up an amusement park.

I'm a pretty rational person, but I believe that rationality and science have their places. Ultimately there is a limit to what can be known through rational thought. I respect scientists that keep on digging for ultimate scientific truths, but I am inherently skeptical of efforts to find ultimate Truth in science.

Anyway, it was a fun movie with some interesting themes. Then again, maybe I just imagined the themes and it was supposed to just be a fun movie. Regardless, I now have to get the trade paperback of the comic which undoubtedly has a more in-depth version of the story.

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