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The year of Akira: how does 2019 Neo-Tokyo compare with today's city?

It’s 2019 and Tokyo is a sprawling megalopolis preparing for the 2020 Olympics. The city is crowded, fraying at the edges. The young are aimless and underemployed, obsessed with cars and clothes. Cynical new religious movements are on the rise. Motorcycle gangs race at night on the expressways. There is a worrying trend of militarism after years of peace. The government is showing signs of corruption. And everyone seems terrifyingly eager to ignore the lessons of a recent nuclear catastrophe.

If science fiction channels the neuroses of its time, then Akira, the 1988 animated film,

In many others, the real city of Tokyo and the imagined Neo-Tokyo of the 1988 anime film Akira are nearly indistinguishable. 2019 is the “year of Akira”: the date the apocalyptic science fiction film was set, a couple of decades after a mysterious nuclear-esque disaster had wiped out the original city.

Architecture

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: buildings in Shinbashi.





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Real Tokyo: buildings in Shinbashi. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Streets

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: street scene with view of the NTT Docomo Yoyogi building in Shinjuku.





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Real Tokyo: street scene with view of the NTT Docomo Yoyogi building in Shinjuku. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Torigoe shrine festival

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: Torigoe shrine festival.





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Real Tokyo: Torigoe shrine festival. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara for The Guardian

The bay

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: Tokyo bay area from Rainbow bridge.





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Real Tokyo: Tokyo bay area from Rainbow bridge. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara for The Guardian

Satellite images

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment
Real satellite image of Tokyo, 2019.

Real satellite image of Tokyo, 2019. Photograph: Google Maps

Skyscrapers

From Akira 1988.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: a night view from Roppongi Hills Mori tower





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Real Tokyo: a night view from Roppongi Hills Mori tower. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Highways

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: Rainbow bridge.





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Real Tokyo: Rainbow bridge. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara for The Guardian

People

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: a modern couple





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A couple embrace in real Tokyo. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara for The Guardian

Traffic

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: the crossroad in front of Shinjuku station.





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Real Tokyo: the crossroad in front of Shinjuku station. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Bars

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: people drink after work in Shinbashi





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Real Tokyo: people drink after work in Shinbashi. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Shadows

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

Real Tokyo: bars under the bridge in Shinbashi.





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Real Tokyo: bars under the bridge in Shinbashi. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara/The Guardian

Olympic stadium

Akira.





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Akira. Photograph: TMS Entertainment

The real Tokyo: the new Olympic stadium under construction for the 2020 Games





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The real Tokyo: the new Olympic stadium under construction for the 2020 Games. Photograph: Kosuke Okahara for The Guardian

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