For many, Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 film Akira (which he adapted from his own manga series) was their first glimpse into the wildly imaginative world of anime, and boy was it a harrowing one. Set against the backdrop of a dystopian Tokyo, the cyberpunk film's visceral, stunning visuals magnify the horrors of a nuclear holocaust while offering plenty of scenes that will definitely make your skin crawl. Surreal imagery makes Akira more of an experience than a movie, and much of the time that "experience" is pretty damn unpleasant - there are a lot of violent parts in Akira.
This list examines some of the moments that make Akira a monstrous but beautiful work of art. Below, you'll find the most disturbing scenes from Akira. There's everything from extreme violence to the birth of a new universe, with every moment rendered flawlessly through crisp animation and sharp artwork. But be warned: This list isn't for the faint of heart.
One of the final scenes in Akira is also one of the most disturbing. In this moment, Tetsuo is quite literally being consumed by his own power, transforming into an expansive glob of flesh as his consciousness seemingly erodes. The fleshy mass grows as large as the Olympic Stadium and engulfs Kaori and Kaneda. Even a hail of bullets can't stop this thing. In other words, it's pretty gross.
Tetsuo ends the saga of Akira with a bang. Literally. Akira and the espers use their powers to send the evolving Tetsuo into another universe, where he gains control of his powers and creates a Big Bang, possibly creating another universe. In different parts of Akira, it's suggested that all humans have the capability to develop psychic powers, and when Tetsuo - and to a much lesser extent, Kei - become psychics, we learn that's true.
Poor Tetsuo is on the brink of insanity, and this haunting nightmare is really the beginning of his downward spiral. The espers are tampering with his dreams to bring out more of his psychic powers, and the result is the sort of scene you eventually have nightmares about. In it, we see a younger version of Tetsuo at play just before he and the city around him begin to crumble. The imagery of this scene continues Akira's surrealist feel, as does the fact that Tetsuo is apparently looking at Akira. Why, exactly, is Akira in Tetsuo's dream? Even though the dream appears to be a revisiting of Neo-Tokyo's explosion in 1988, we simply don't know for sure. All we're left with is the metaphysical idea that Tetsuo's developing powers link him both to the future and to events that took place long before he was born.
At the very end of Akira, Kaneda is seemingly transported through the titular character's consciousness, and it's there that we get to see what the espers were before they were subjected to government testing. Not only is it heart-wrenching to see, it also raises an uncomfortable question: How is Kaneda experiencing Akira's memories? Is he floating through his brain matter? If so, it's hard to imagine anything more invasive, and also, that's pretty gross.