Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Stars: Nozumo Sasaki, Mitsuo Iwata, Mami Koyama, Tesho Genda, Hiroshi Otake

If this were a countdown of the most important animated movies of all time, Katsuhiro Otomo's seminal anime Akira could very well be number one, at least for lovers of hardcore storytelling such as ourselves.

Prior to its release, animated films rarely, if ever, pushed the limits of good taste and ratings boards, more concerned with family appeal than sensory beatdowns. But then Akira came along and injected David Cronenberg-like grotesqueries and Akira-Kurosawa-in-Hell brutality into a medium famously known for giving the kiddies something to watch. Cartoons have, thankfully, never been the same again.

Otomo's two-hour epic of ultra-violence was based on his own manga (Japanese language comics) of the same name, about the fallout from nuclear explosion in Tokyo. Now dubbed "Neo-Tokyo," the ravaged city becomes the demonic playground for a biker gang member who uses psychic abilities to wreak extreme havoc. Conceptualized on the grandest of scales, Akira is the kind of story that could only be done justice through animation.