Paranoia, Action, & Many Chills Await You!
Akira is one of the most influential anime films of all time. With its jaw-dropping visuals, fluid animation, and action-packed sequences, there is a lot to digest with this movie. Despite being a gem of the past, you’ll often see many television shows, cartoons, anime, comics, and movies reference bits and pieces from this film.
Our tale centers around Shoutarou Kaneda, a leader of a biker gang called the Capsules, who are at war with a group called the Clowns. Tetsuo, Kaneda’s best friend, ends up involved in a governmental conflict involving a rogue esper during one of their exchanges.
After meeting this psychic being, Tetsuo develops powers of his own. This leads to the government quarantining Tetsuo to prevent him from unleashing his newfound powers. The anime focuses on Kaneda’s journey to save Tetsuo and his city of Neo-Tokyo before it’s too late.
If you’re having trouble finding anime similar to Akira, fear not! We’ve discovered 10 alternate shows that’ll give you a similar experience as Akira.
Additionally, for each anime we’ve reviewed, we’ve included a link that allows you to view our full thoughts about the series to see if it’s worth your time.
So without further ado, we present 10 TV shows that should whet your appetite when you’ve finished streaming Akira!
Similarities – Themes
Elfen Lied is a depressing and painful series to watch. It tackles mature subjects like child experimentation, bullying, and other hard-hitting topics. Like Akira, Elfen Lied contains brutal imagery, intense action, and simple-minded characters. If you found Tetsuo’s psychic abilities fascinating in Akira, you’ll find Lucy’s Diclonius abilities incredible.
Our tale follows Lucy, a human being with telekinetic powers, who undergoes intense experimentation at the hands of government officials. While she manages to escape, she suffers a critical injury that leaves her with a split personality. She winds up on a beach and meets two college students that offer her a place to stay. Unknowingly, these college students will learn that their act of kindness wasn’t a brilliant move.
Underneath this anime’s excessive violence lies a show full of tragedy and depression. You’ll get to peer into Lucy’s saddening past and understand why she has a vendetta against mankind. At the same time, the bond she forms with Kouta and his cousin Yuka will fill you with glee. While it’s animation and art style don’t hold a candle to Akira’s, Elfen Lied’s worth your time.
Ghost In The Shell (1995)
Similarities – Cyberpunk Setting & Influential Films
Ghost In The Shell (1995) and Akira inspired many Hollywood filmmakers. From Lana and Lily Wachowski’s The Matrix to James Cameron’s Avatar, Ghost In The Shell holds a strong legacy in the vein of films like Akira. While Ghost In The Shell has its share of phenomenally done action scenes, it leans more into the intellectual scope of things, unlike Akira.
Ghost In The Shell presents its audience with many thought-provoking questions surrounding human philosophy and existentialism. Despite delving into more mental-heavy concepts, Ghost In The Shell maintains solid pacing throughout the film. It never tries to overbear audience members with its complexities as it drops these ideas at well-timed intervals.
Ghost In The Shell and Akira gives fans beautifully drawn and animated cyberpunk-themed settings to explore and analyze. Fans will have a blast watching both film’s protagonists move and interact in the vibrant worlds they inhabit. While the visuals are glorious, both worlds contain this sense of mystery. If you’re looking for a more thought-provoking anime with a beautiful futuristic setting, check out Ghost In The Shell’s 1995 film.
Similarities – Sci-Fi Setting & Themes
Akira isn’t the only old-school anime film that went beyond many’s expectations. Enter Metropolis, a sci-fi action film featuring breathtaking technological cities and characters that undergo experimentation. Our tale takes place in a futuristic world inhabited by robots and humans. At the center lies our protagonist, Detective Shunsaku Ban, and his sidekick Kenichi.
These two are searching for the scientist Dr. Laughton, who’s working on a super android named Tima for a nefarious man named Duke Red. When they arrive at his lab, Kenichi finds Tima and learns she has no prior memory of her past life. The two run away together, and the anime follows Kenichi and Detective Ban’s attempts at protecting the girl from Duke Red and his cronies.
Akira fans will find familiar ground with Tima’s character. She adopts the same sense of wonderment with the world as Tetsuo does in the film. Metropolis delves into the relationship and interactions between humans and technology more than Akira. Metropolis feels more child-friendly than Akira, meaning fans should expect to see our characters draw much blood or end up in grotesque situations.
Similarities – Setting & Atmosphere
Video game-based anime adaptations have started stepping up their game in recent years. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is an endless thrill ride from start to finish. With its fun action sequences, likable characters, and incredible futuristic locales, it’s a cyberpunk-themed show that deserves your attention.
Like Akira, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners features an impressive cast of characters with distinct personalities. Unfortunately, some characters don’t receive much time to shine or strut their stuff. However, everyone leaves a memorable mark on the narrative, whether emotionally or physically.
The show’s setting and atmosphere feel reminiscent of Akira’s Neo Tokyo environment. In both anime, the police don’t offer much support to low-class individuals, and these locations are often home to many criminals, gangs, and perpetrators waiting for their chance to do no good.
Jin-Rou: The Wolf-Brigade
Similarities – Themes & Psychological
Jinrou: The Wolf Brigade is another classic sci-fi film that delivers on its gritty futuristic environment, storytelling, and characterization. Jinrou and Akira feature a balance of action and drama and place their protagonists in worlds full of crime and terrorism.
Jinrou takes place in an alternate future, following the aftermath of World War II, where crimes occur frequently in Japan. An elite counter-terrorism unit soldier, Constable Kazuki Fuse, notices the true terror of humanity during a botched interception mission. Kazuki fails to prevent a teenage girl from going through with her suicide bombing incident.
This causes Tokyo to suffer from her action. Due to his failures and trauma, Kazuki is sent back to the military academy for re-evaluation. Unknowingly, Kazuki will learn of the web of government conspiracies that will determine Japan’s future. Kazuki treads the line between man and beast in Jinrou as fans wait in anticipation to discover which route he plans to take.
As one can tell, Jinrou is an emotional roller coaster that delves into the darker aspects of humanity. While its action is praise-worthy, fans will adore seeing Kazuki struggle to find his way in life. Though heartbreaking, Kazuki’s reactions to situations feel oddly realistic. These moments will allow fans to witness the detrimental aspects of war through his and many other characters’ eyes.
Similarities – Setting & Themes
Psycho-Pass places its characters in an advanced society where technology can define their likelihood to commit crimes. This world’s system can identify a person’s ideal occupation and set them on a path that’s right for them. This is the issue our protagonist tangles within this anime.
Akira and Psycho-Pass are incredible works of art that delve into the degradation of society from two different angles. Crime is a usual activity that takes place in both environments despite Psycho-Pass’s world containing a highly functional security system.
Viewers who enjoyed Akira’s self-contained narrative will adore Psycho-Pass’s story. This anime doesn’t feature any outlandish sub-plots that get in the way of the story’s flow. Psycho-Pass also features a slew of fun action scenes involving guns and mental tactics. Psycho-Pass will appeal to fans seeking a more serious psychological challenge with beautiful visuals and action.
Serial Experiements Lain
Similarities – Sci-fi & Themes
While Psycho-Pass offers a mix of clever action and thought-provoking elements, Serial Experiments Lain (Lain) emphasizes the former with its narrative. Akira and Laion explore the concept of power and the dreadful outcomes that stem from it.
Despite having more action than Lain, these anime will make the viewers think about its messages. Furthermore, Lain is a show that moves at a snail’s pace. The show presents the viewer with numerous thought-provoking scenarios, which is why it’ll feel like things are moving slowly.
Some may need to rewatch this show a few times to attain a general sense of the information shared. At the same time, this series excellently stretches out its intense moments. This helps viewers obtain the same level of dread and gloom as the show’s characters.
The plot twists and reveals in Lain will leave viewers on the edge of their seats. If you’re looking for an incredible slow-burner show that will make you use your brain, check out Serial Experiments Lain.
Similarities – Atmosphere, Themes, Art Style
Confusion, alienation, and paranoia are three factors that intertwine in the Paranoia Agent universe. This is an anime full of supernatural, suspenseful, and dramatic elements. Its unsettling art style and visuals will remind fans of Akira’s world.
On the other hand, Paranoia Agent leans more into its mystery aspects. Each episode presents more clues concerning the anime’s antagonist Lil’ Slugger. These episodes will make the show’s characters and viewers more paranoid as it continues.
This is an excellent show that knows how to build tension and make fans feel disturbed. Paranoia Agent follows Lil’ Slugger who attacks helpless citizens and disappears from each scene unscathed. When two detectives investigate his crime, Lil’ Slugger racks up more beatings. Faced with paranoia, the two detectives must catch Lil’ Slugger before it’s too late.
Viewers may need to rewatch this show to understand what’s being presented or explained. This show’s art style may not be for everyone, but in some instances, it works to make viewers feel more tense and scared. This is a series with much depth, suspense, and mystery to spook even the bravest fans.
Similarities – Nightmarish Storytelling & Disturbing Imagery
Perfect Blue is regarded as the late Satoshi Kon’s best work. This film explores the horrors of fame, lust, and greed. It’s a film with a plot that aged like fine wine considering what the world is like today with social media influencers and platforms like YouTube and TikTok.
That said, this is a mature work that may require a second viewing from viewers. Visually, the anime holds up well and features a plethora of dream-like and realistic imagery to haunt its viewers. The former may have some second-guessing themselves if the events taking place are real or inside our protagonist’s head.
This anime revolves around Mia, a pop star who leaves the spotlight to pursue acting. This causes her fans to carry mixed feelings. As time flies by, disturbing events unfold that put Mia in a broken state. This film is a thought-provoking gem and will leave those who crave mystery and suspense pleased.
Similarities – Action & Futuristic Setting
From a well-beloved film to a cult-classic series, we arrive at Cowboy Bebop. This space adventure anime features enough action and mystery to satisfy any fan of futuristic-themed shows. Cowboy Bebop is an anime you’ll want to watch repeatedly.
The show’s epic action scenes and likable characters make it a favorite, and the story gradually reveals the darker layers of our protagonists’ past lives. While it lacks horror elements and disturbing imagery, this series presents viewers with another futuristic world that’s fleshed out and vast.
The fights in Akira and Cowboy Bebop are astonishing. From its characters’ movements to their portrayal of martial arts, it’ll be difficult for any action-junky to look away from Cowboy Bebop. There are several slice-of-life moments sprinkled in this show.
These scenes allow viewers to sit back and take in the Cowboy Bebop’s stellar environment and atmosphere. Overall, Cowboy Bebop is a well-written sci-fi anime with enough crime and action to keep you entertained.
So there we have it, our 10 anime/TV show alternatives to watch when you’ve caught up with Akira!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!