From Ground Zero to Degree Zero: Akira as Origin and Oblivion







Wednesday, January 22, 2014

4:00 PM to 5:30 PM

Leavey Library (LVL) Auditorium, USC

This talk by Christopher Bolton, Associate Professor of Comparative and Japanese Literature at Williams College, will explore the limitations and strengths of manga and anime as media by comparing the animated film Akira with the manga the film was based on. 

Ōtomo Katsuhiro's anime film Akira is often identified as the work that ignited the anime boom in the U.S. This characterization is motivated in part by the graphic image of an explosion that opens the film, an image that seemed to herald a destruction of old paradigms and the arrival of new media when it first flashed across U.S. movie screens in 1989. But paradoxically this work that marks an origin or turning point for anime has also been strongly identified with a postmodern aesthetic that seems to erase the very notions of origin and history. In contrast Ōtomo's Akira manga (upon which the film is a based) is a 2,000-page epic that foregrounds origins of all kinds - historical, political, and graphic. This talk will compare these two versions of Akira to ask what strengths and limitations manga and anime each have as media, when it comes to locating ourselves in history, in political culture, or in space. 

Event Flyer

Event video

This event is co-sponsored by the USC Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures



  • East Asian Studies Center
  • 3454 Trousdale Parkway
  • College Administrative Services Building (CAS) 100
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0154