Classic Japanese 80s Anime Movie: Akira’s Influence on Streetwear

Katsuhiro Otomo is one of the most iconic and influential manga artists in recent history, known for his cyberpunk aesthetic. He's responsible for some of the most popular and acclaimed anime/manga titles ever made. Arguably, he could also be responsible for his creations' impact on what we know as streetwear today, with Japanese culture adopting plenty of inspiration for his work across dark anime aesthetics and collections.

When anime was first coming to America, it was a niche genre. Now it's become one of the most popular and influential forms of entertainment in the world, and its impact has spread through the fashion industry as a result. From Dragon Ball Z to Sailor Moon, Pokémon and One-Piece, there's no doubt that these anime masterpieces have inspired trends across the globe, but none more so than the incredible Akira.

In fact, back in 2008, Capcom teamed up with Triumvir (now no longer active) to launch its streetwear fashion items. When the latter company shut its doors, Capcom continued its trends with Drake and Lil Wayne, creating its unique line resembling Street Fighter.

The influence of the AKIRA anime three decades later

Nowadays, AKIRA consistently sees itself cited as one of the most influential animes of all time, despite its release being more than 30 years ago. With the storyline covering an explosion that triggered World War III, the series sees itself following Tokyo's rehabilitation as Neo-Tokyo, where a motorcycle gang Kaneda ends up in hot water. And that's where you meet gang leader Shotaro Kaneda, and the events only continue to grow more intense as the plot thickens.

But it's AKIRA's cyberpunk aesthetic and artistry that continues to inspire streetwear today. The legendary Kanye West even praises the masterpiece as his favorite anime of all time, while anime company Funimation is gearing up to release Kaneda's motif jacket, no doubt to be one of the hottest pieces of apparel in Japanese pop culture history.

With musings taken from a cyberpunk aesthetic and its tangents into the Neo-Tokyo we see in the film, the manga continues to spread its "badass" trends with weathered leather jackets becoming a staple piece in Japanese (and even Western) pop culture.

Fun fact, Kanye Wests' Stronger music video pays homage to the flick, giving fans the motive to express that Kaneda's style is "the seed of Kanye's iconic pink polo."

AKIRA fashion world takeover

It's well-known that the movie has grasped streetwear trends for decades now. In 2017, label Supreme released its AKIRA collection, featuring a variety of pieces - like black anime clothing - that now attracts price tags of up to $1400 on sites like Grailed. Fast-forward to 2013 and Comme des Garcon launched its catalog of AKIRA-inspired creations.

Ultimately, it's the distinct artwork that blends dark anime aesthetic collections with fashion that continues to inspire streetwear and pop culture today. While it's only a fiction story, the AKIRA anime paved the path to a whole new wardrobe of streetwear and anime style t-shirts, leather jackets and hoodies - one that is celebrated even three decades later.