Alden’s ITP Home

Akira Poster Design Analysis

Visually striking and iconic* – the original poster for the film Akira brings forth a sense of encroaching gloom, of decay, of violence, all with a startling minimalism. The film depicts the country of Japan at a time of crisis, evoked here in the poster by centering the colors of the Japanese flag and surrounding them with creeping, looming shadows of blue-grey.

The eye is immediately drawn by the image organization and the blue splash on his jacket toward the figure in the center, bringing him front and center to the poster and indicating that he is, if not the lead character, at least central to the film. However he is not shown looking straight ahead toward the viewer, as might be expected for a lead, but rather looking away, toward his motorcycle (even if a viewer had not seen the film they might have inferred that the motorcycle belonged to him as they are so visually linked), which forms a bright gash in the road separating him from whatever lies beyond. The encroaching darkness and high contrast turn in image that might draw on tropes of masculinity to be taken for indicating freedom, a man, a motorcycle, and an open road, and turn it into a claustrophobic image of loneliness – he is quite literally boxed in alone, not even the viewer is able to connect with him and gauge his emotional state.

The eye then travels down to the name of the film, where the color contrast is made most explicit. The film title is presented boldly in Rhode Bold Condensed font and then again in a bright red hand-drawn katakana superimposed over it, echoing both a splatter of blood and graffiti. Then further information about the movie is displayed underneath in ordered decreasing font size for decreasing importance of the information.



  • Almost 30 years after Akira’s debut, the poster retains a memetic virality. Below are some recent examples, taken from imgur: