Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He's searching the internet for the perfect gift for his dad.
I first saw the legendary animated film "Akira" when I was twelve years old.
The year was 1989, and it was released in the US very sporadically. There was a student-run screening at the University of Georgia that I found out about via a flyer at my local comic book shop. I asked - nay, begged - my father to take me. Despite the fact that it was on a school night and took place nearly two and a half hours away, he knew this was a big event for me. So he agreed.
He picked me up from school and drove me to Athens, Georgia. We had pizza and visited the local comic book shop to kill time until the screening at 8:00 PM. Normally, my father would be in bed around the time that the film would be half over, since he got up at 4:30 AM every single morning - but for that night, he toughed it out. The film ran two hours and nineteen minutes, and IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL.
Life-changing, even. It didn't matter that the screening was from a ratty multiple-copied VHS tape a student at the University of Georgia's film club scored at a comic convention. It didn't even matter that the film wasn't subtitled or dubbed. I knew enough from the American edition of the "Akira" manga to derive the overall plot, and the static on the top and bottom edges of the screen was hardly noticeable.
We rode in silence for a short while on the way home. I was agog from what I'd just seen - my favorite manga brought to life in full color 24-frame-per-second fully hand-painted animation. The epic battle between Kaneda and Tetsuo in all its frenetic glory. Explosions. Motorcycle chases. Cataclysm.
I studied the fan-made, fold-over program cover to cover at least thirty times. I studied my insanely expensive, imported "Akira" shirt featuring Kaneda holding his laser rifle that I'd spent a month's worth of lawn mowing pay on.
I was in heaven.
It was about twenty miles into our journey that my father turned to me, cleared his throat, and asked, "Joe... what the HELL did we just watch?" FULL POST