Katsuhiro Otomo, the author of Akira, expected to be released as a Hollywood live-action movie in May of next year, predicted the spread of COVID-19, the exact year of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the postponement of Olympics as well as other things. If so, then, why and how did Otomo foresee the global pandemic health crisis and the postponement in Akira even though it was released back in the 1980s?
First, Otomo predicted that WHO was going to criticize the country’s method to prevent the spread of pandemic. In the manga version of Akira volume 3, there is a headline in the newspapers that says “WHO criticizes the nation’s disease prevention method” as the country becomes anarchy, and the disease spreads out. In comparison to the real world, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed that S. Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan have the “greatest virus concern” on March 3rd since other countries had appeared to be efficiently preventing the spread of the virus. Together with the headline, Ghebreyesus’s statement, and the disease in the anime remind us of COVID-19.
Secondly, Otomo predicted the postponement of the Olympics since he is aware that the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were not as admired as the media companies indicate; rather, the public pressured the government to utilize federal spending for reconciliation of the country instead. Moreover, many people were against the Olympics since it would lead to “empowering the national prestige”. In the anime, there is a scene of people protesting against the opening of the Olympics for a similar reason as a billboard that shows “147 Days till Olympics”. In the real world of timing, that is February 28th, which is when people in Japan had started considering postponement of the Olympics as 700 individuals from Diamond Princess had been tested positive for coronavirus, and WHO had declared the disease’s risk assessment as very high. Behind the scene of Tokyo Olympics’ postponement, the noticeboard contributed to protecting public health. On February 28, 2020, students from Kyoto University created the same noticeboard from the anime and placed it by the university. Handing out flyers to encourage anti-Olympics civil movement around campus, they consequently raised awareness of the virus’ threat. On that same weekend, people found themselves waiting on lines for hours to obtain toilet paper, of which phenomenon reminded many people of the 1973 oil crisis.
A billboard from the anime that says “Cancel it” on the lower bottom of the board
A noticeboard that students at Kyoto University created to raise awareness of the virus Source: nlab.itmedia.co.jp
Furthermore, Otomo did simple math to predict the year of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He explains that the anime series started its release in 1982, which is exactly 37 years after the end of World War II in 1945. the year of 1945. Then, the author set the year of the Olympics as 2019-2020, which is 37 years after 1982.
In addition to the prediction for the postponement and the spread of the virus, Otomo also predicted the increase of consumption tax. In one of the scenes from the anime, the increase of consumption tax implemented by “the previous Prime Minister” results in unemployment and chaos in society. The Prime Minister pictured is supposedly depicted as Abe Shinzo, who actually did implement a tax reform and increased the consumption tax to 10% from 8% in October 2019.
In fact, Otomo's perspectives as an individual born in the Showa era have contributed to these predictions in his art. Otomo explains that he wished to journal his memories of the era into Akira, combining imagination and creativity. Interestingly, even though the series takes place in 2019, things like houses simultaneously remind readers and audiences of these from the 1950s, which is the country’s height of the economic growth period. Furthermore, demonstrators carrying a baseball bat with a helmet on and the civil movement advocates remind the audience of the New Left, who were against the government and bombed various places. During the era, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare had failed to prevent Dysentery and HIV during the era, which helped Otomo to predict that another type of virus would eventually spread like a pandemic and cause a global public health crisis. Unprecedented and highly creative, Akira was originally illustrated and released as a manga from 1982 and 1990, but it was animated and broadcasted back in 1988, having influenced thousands of people as one of the world's best science fiction titles.
Born in 1954, Otomo has experienced these chaotic moments as he grew up, which helped him to predict the current situation. Otomo’s distinguished work Akira appears to tell us that history repeats and the global public health crisis has been a lesson for us to reconsider what matters the most and what should be prioritized. Expected to be released as a Hollywood live-action movie in May of next year, the series will keep the audience excited.
Kubota, Masaki. ”漫画「AKIRA」が新型コロナを予言!?ネット民が震える怖い噂の種明かし”. March 3, 2020. Diamond Online
toranosuke. “【真実】AKIRA予言まとめ！コロナで東京オリンピック中止が現実に？”April 19, 2020. 雑記ねこのブログ