Title

A Critical Analysis of Tsutomu Ohashi’s Score for Akira

Presenter Information

Molly Trindle

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The 1988 film Akira was a groundbreaking work in the history of Japanese animated film. As one of the first Japanese films that became both critically and popularly successful outside of Japan, it has held a unique place in the history of Japanese animated films' rise to mainstream success in the West. Critics and scholars have examined its plot, characters, and structure, but less has been written about its music, which remains one of its most innovative features. The nature of Akira's plot is purposefully shrouded in mysticism, and is consequently very difficult to define. Additionally, it is an adaptation of a much longer manga, so the plot of the film varies significantly from that of the manga. However, the important themes, character arcs, moods, and questions are all present in the film. I argue that the music is largely responsible for carrying these elements in the film. My analysis of musical styles, orchestration, and melodic motives shows that the music is a critical element of the film. The music conveys moods, themes, and other extratextual ideas that couldn't be explored directly in the narrative. The score to Akira carries the audience through the exploratory and thematically complex plot and perhaps most significantly is able to include elements from the manga which were not included in the film itself.

Category

Visual and Performing Arts (including Creative Writing)

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Apr 17th, 4:20 PM Apr 17th, 4:40 PM

A Critical Analysis of Tsutomu Ohashi’s Score for Akira

UC 332

The 1988 film Akira was a groundbreaking work in the history of Japanese animated film. As one of the first Japanese films that became both critically and popularly successful outside of Japan, it has held a unique place in the history of Japanese animated films' rise to mainstream success in the West. Critics and scholars have examined its plot, characters, and structure, but less has been written about its music, which remains one of its most innovative features. The nature of Akira's plot is purposefully shrouded in mysticism, and is consequently very difficult to define. Additionally, it is an adaptation of a much longer manga, so the plot of the film varies significantly from that of the manga. However, the important themes, character arcs, moods, and questions are all present in the film. I argue that the music is largely responsible for carrying these elements in the film. My analysis of musical styles, orchestration, and melodic motives shows that the music is a critical element of the film. The music conveys moods, themes, and other extratextual ideas that couldn't be explored directly in the narrative. The score to Akira carries the audience through the exploratory and thematically complex plot and perhaps most significantly is able to include elements from the manga which were not included in the film itself.