Everybody remembers the first time that they saw Akira. For many it is the first anime that they ever saw and were astounded by the cutting-edge animation that still impresses today. For many others though, they were equally impressed by the fantastic music of Akira that managed to set a suitable atmosphere throughout the film.
From the pounding percussion of the opening right through to the gentle choir of the ending, this soundtrack remains a fascinating listen throughout and never once becomes dull. The tribal theme of Geinoh Yamashirogumi's vocals are even more powerful when separated from the visuals of the film and this is particularly noticeable on the track Doll's Polyphony. When watching the film this music is overshadowed by the confusing scene in which one of characters has a bizarre hallucination involving cuddly toys and a sea of a milk (don't ask), but when listened to with no visuals it becomes a terrifying piece with a delicious sense of dread.
The main beauty of the Akira soundtrack though is the fact that when listened to it does not conjure up images of the film like most soundtracks. Instead the tribal sound gave me several images - the track Battle Against Clown gave an image of an African dance, Winds Over Neo-Tokyo the image of a lagoon and the track Mutation a nightmarish vision of a Satanic ritual - yet this soundtrack has a very traditional feel to it at the same time. It also feels completely modern because of this as the conflict between traditional and future is perfect for Akira. This conflict perfectly represents Japan, which is simultaneously the most traditional and yet the most innovative country in the world. The Akira soundtrack captures this perfectly and when I have visited Japan parts of the soundtrack often spring to mind in the streets of Tokyo. The crazy road system with it's bizarre curving flyovers always makes me hum the chase music track Kaneda while the streets of Kyoto are reminiscent of the deep vocals in the track Shohmyoh. Because of this the composer, Shoji Yamashiro, has captured an amazing contemporary and yet futuristic feel of Japan. It is as though he is suggesting that Japan continues not to forget it's history as it continues into the futuristic Tokyo seen in Akira and in his music he captures this more powerfully then the atomic explosion at the start of the film. His music always reminds the listener of Japan's traditions and never attempts to strive in futuristic beats, sticking to simple vocals that have far complexity and beauty then other soundtracks out there.
Even all these years after the Akira was released, the music is still totally unique and there are very few anime soundtracks that can compare to its quality. This soundtrack is truly an essential addition to your collection just as much as the film is.
Being a CD released well over a decade ago there are not any
extras to speak of really. The booklet offers a list of credits and there
is a small description of the film on the back but little else other then an
attractive picture disc.