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The Beautiful Animation of AKIRA Is Detailed in New Video

There is so much to love with every video essay The Nerdwriter produces. His channel has provided the internet with hours of interesting and unique perspectives on any number of topics. But the ones we tend to love the most are his really nerdy explorations of things we’re already obsessed with, like his latest take on the animation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 cult classic Akira.

The video delves deep into the groundbreaking animation that helped to make Akira a film that still stands the test of time, pointing out that the lighting effects in the film are something to truly marvel at and how some effects are created by computer and then overlaid into the final product. All this is not to say that modern effects aren’t intricate but, to a certain extent, they can’t hold a candle to the work involved in creating cel animation by hand.

The Nerdwriter‘s main focus in his video is to, ahem, illuminate us about how vital lighting is to the film. The city of Neo-Tokyo is consistently drenched in some form of artificial light. The ever-present neon and the strong beams tethered to officers and their vehicles serve as reminders that no one in the city is entirely free from anyone’s gaze, lending a paranoid feel to the already unpleasant world in the film. The daunting task of creating this world in cel animation means that 24 times a second, every buzzing neon glow, shadow cast, and glint of reflected light had to be painstakingly animated by hand. With artificial light serving as a constant reminder of the dystopian nature of the film and the blinding laser satellite-induced white light at its climax, this was undoubtedly something animators had to pay extra attention to in order to bring it to life so beautifully.

Once again, Nerdwriter has given us a new way to look at something we already love and brought out a new underlying beauty some may not have noticed. With the knowledge of the deliberate use of light in myriad gorgeous ways, we’ll never look at Akira the same way again.

What are your favorite uses of light in animation? Can CGI hold a candle to hand-drawn animation? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Image: Toho

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