AKIRA: Why the Olympic Apocalypse NEEDS to Happen

The spotlight will shine brightly on Tokyo
in 2020 at the Olympic Games, and the pinpoint accuracy of Akira is not lost on the Japanese,
who have embraced the unsettling coincidence. Or is it a coincidence? Is Akira another example
of predictive programming? Well let’s first define some key terms before we get too far
ahead of ourselves, starting with Predictive Programming.
In conspiracy circles, the act of predictive programming is basically prepping people’s
minds for large-scale, real-world events, usually tragedies, by first placing these
types of extreme imagery in media like films and TV shows. As you may have heard or seen before, some
conspiracy theorists think Sandy Hook was predicted by the Dark Knight Rises, and of
course you can go back and watch old Simpsons episodes to see how they seemingly predicted
everything from 9/11 to a Trump presidency. So with the construction site of the Neo-Tokyo
Olympics being such a prominent part of the story in Akira’s 2019, and with Tokyo on
the verge of hosting the Olympics in the present day, is the classic anime film predicting
an apocalypse? Again, we have to clearly define another important term…Apocalypse. Apocalypse translated literally from Greek,
is “a disclosure of knowledge, a lifting of
the veil, or revelation.” In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure
of something hidden, although in modern day western religions, the term has been hijacked
as a scare tactic, used to fill people’s minds with the fear of literal fire and brimstone,
a breakdown in society and utter destruction, culminating in God saying, “ok, I guess
I’ll save you now”. But in reality, this is just esoteric imagery of what is going
on inside the mind of the person experiencing his or her own apocalypse. According to these esoteric circles, when
you’re met with a new understanding of yourself, the world around you, and your place in it,
particularly if you were brought up with a certain set of ideals or beliefs, whether
they be religious, cultural or otherwise, this sets off an internal armageddon, whereby
those previous beliefs try to hold on and dominate your world view. But if you’re
strong enough or brave enough to explore a new, more informed knowledge of self, that
internal armageddon is won, leaving in its wake the death and destruction of old, outdated
ways of thinking that are no longer useful to you in your new universe, or more precisely,
your new state of mind. So that was a healthy dose of spacey, spooky
metaphysical jargon, but what does that have to do with Akira, the Olympics or Japan? Well, let’s talk about Society 5.0
What is it? Society 5.0 is Japan’s vision for the future, which relies heavily on technology.
We’re talking robots, AI, wearables. And this isn’t just some sci-fi pipe dream.
Japan is expected to showcase some of these advancements at the Olympics. We’ve been
promised robots that will help you find your seat and bring you food, automated fuel-cell
cars, the works. The hope is that this will be the jumping off point for going full steam
ahead with Society 5.0, with the aim of Japan being the model leader of the new global community.
But some people within Japan feel this is a bit ironic, and even contradictory. Let
me explain by going a little further back in time. So in the ’64 Tokyo Olympics, Japan proved
itself an economic and technological powerhouse, completely reinventing itself in the post-war
era. From those Olympics, Tokyo got bullet trains, new highways, and the world was introduced
to revolutionary photo finish technology and electronic timing systems. Life magazine said
it was the greatest Olympics ever held. Japan had a new reputation, and much like the government
in the anime symbolically did with Akira the failed experiment, the 1964 Olympic Games
effectively buried the old Japan and its legacy of militaristic imperialism. But again like Akira, little pieces of the
old Japan still linger, and the cracks are starting to show as the family structure is
in crisis. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Japan is undergoing a population crisis, and the
country is aging rapidly. The government has made attempts to try and rectify the situation,
but time and again long-standing cultural philosophies about how society should be structured
seem to get in the way. In the 55 years since the last Tokyo Olympics,
Japan experienced both an economic boom, and an equally damaging bust, with the bottom
falling out only a couple years after the release of Akira, from which the country still
hasn’t fully recovered to this day. So with these economic hardships, comes fear
of instability. Men are hesitant to get married or have children because they are just too
unsure of their financial future to invest in it. But that leads to the next issue at
hand, which is the shifting gender roles. So if a guy can’t support a family on his
own, then why not just let the wife work too, especially since they want to? Well that’s
easier said then done. Despite the government trying to place more women in the workforce,
its still met with old ideals about the role of women in Japanese society.
It’s preferable that a woman stay home with the kids, which kind of defeats the purpose
of having children if it takes two salaries to raise the child. And there’s a thing
here called Maternity Harassment, and women will either be pressured to quit, or outright
fired for having a baby, because their employer basically didn’t give the woman their blessing
to get pregnant. But even if a woman can find a job that will be flexible with the fact
that she has a family, there’s the corrupt daycare system to contend with, that judges
worthiness based on a point system that routinely leaves would-be working moms out in the cold,
at which point if you’re a stay-at-home mom, what need do you have for daycare services?
It’s a classic move of Japan offering lip service to appear as thought it is moving
in the right direction, but putting roadblocks at every turn to maintain the status quo.
And I’m not going to get into all the ways women are discriminated against in the workplace,
I’ve already covered that in my Aggretsuko analysis, so you can check that out if you
get a chance. So if having a baby is so hard, and the population
is just giving up, then how will they fill the gap? Well that’s where people like yours
truly come in. In order to supplement the labor shortage, Japan has been forced to be
more laxed with immigration reform, which again comes into opposition against the country’s
general stance on foreigners living here. And this is the important distinction. Japan
loves tourists. They help boost the economy, it’s great word-of-mouth marketing, but
even more importantly, they eventually leave. It’s when you try to make Japan your home
that you might run into issues like housing discrimination, because Japan doesn’t have
any explicit anti-discrimination laws in place, and landlords can flat out refuse to let you
rent an apartment solely on the basis of your non-Japanese status. And then there’s the
everyday micro-aggressions, like nobody wanting to sit in the empty seat next to you on a
train, even when its super crowded. This is dubbed the “gaijin seat,” and I am all
too familiar with it, and know other foreigners who experience this regularly. This is a common occurrence, but it’s only
the tip of the iceberg. As recently as 2015, a Japanese government advisor on education
suggested a South Africa-style apartheid system be put in place, while other government officials
have anti-Korea hate groups in their pockets. Lastly, many foreign residents are turned
down for government jobs because they don’t “look” Japanese. This is an especially
slippery slope, because as the non-Japanese population continues to increase, so too will
the population of bi-racial children, another issue that Japan hasn’t handled very well
in the past. You’re either full Japanese, or not Japanese at all, regardless of whether
you were born and raised here, and Japan is all you know. If you don’t look the part,
you aren’t the part. Take for example, tennis star Naomi Osaka,
who is probably Japan’s most famous biracial athlete, maybe ever. E ven she’s not exempt
from a little hate. A comedy team made an off-color remark, in more ways than one, suggesting
that Osaka bleach her skin because she looked “too sunburned.” With all this in consideration, let’s return
to Akira, and look at the conversation between Kei and Kaneda in the detainment cell. Kei,
who is being used as a vessel by Kiyoko, speaks on the nature of evolution, and how destructive
it could be if those who are not far enough along the evolutionary chain were to gain
control of a power they weren’t fit to handle, as is the case with Tetsuo and Japan at large. Is Japan fit to bring the world into Society
5.0? Like Tetsuo, Japan wants to show it’s the strongest its ever been, but there are
those fragments of past, self-destructive ways of thinking that still need to be reckoned
with. Can robots, AI and all their technological prowess really settle generations-long issues
that are very human in nature, that continue to grow like a dark cloud above the city?
Circuitry and wires can only take you so far before you have to eventually face that reality
on the inside in order to step into the new world, and destroy the old things that are
of no value to your evolution. And it’s like Kiyoko says, “The future
isn’t heading in only one direction. There MUST be a future we can choose.“ Hopefully,
everyone, not just Japan, chooses wisely. As the world descends onto Tokyo at the Olympics,
they can see the beauty of Japan’s culture and rich history and learn from its simplicities
that have sustained this country for so long. And in turn, Japan can be exposed to an international
community that its only ever really embraced at arm’s length, and find areas where it
can learn about itself and grow as well. As the 1964 Olympics gave us a sort of Neo
Tokyo back then, that helped Japan heal from the wounds of war, maybe the 2020 Games can
repeat that magic, giving Japan the opportunity to heal from self-inflicted wounds of regressive
traditions and biases, giving way to a Society 5.0 that can truly lead the world in every
aspect of life in a way that benefits everyone equally. Well, that’s all I got, hope it made sense.
Hope I didn’t offend anyone. I’ll be back soon, but until then…sayonara suckas.

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