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This Kanye Music Video Is Actually Based On Anime

Whether or not you count yourself as a fan of Kanye West, one thing's for certain: Few contemporary artists in any medium have been able to flaunt so keen an understanding of the cultural zeitgeist. From highly intertextual lyrics to savvy subversions and reappropriations of his own celebrity status, to always headline-making music videos, there's a reason Kanye became an aesthetic institution unto himself in the worlds of both hip-hop and pop music.

This was never truer than with his landmark 2007 album "Graduation." In addition to the crucial part it played in opening up mainstream rap to a more pop- and electronic-influenced sound, "Graduation" consolidated West's status as American pop culture's premier curator. "Graduation" had some of the most iconic packaging and cover art of the 2000s — courtesy of Japanese postmodern artist Takashi Murakami — and production that sampled everything from Elton John to Labi Siffre to Steely Dan. 

The most memorable sample in all of "Graduation," though, coincided with its most iconic music video. Befitting the love of Japanese culture evidenced by West's collaboration with Murakami, it's a video that takes direct inspiration from one of the greatest anime films of all time.

The video for Stronger is largely based on Akira

The vocoded voice going "Work it, make it, do it, makes us, harder, better, faster, stronger" was plenty sci-fi in its own right when it was "just" the opening to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." But only Kanye West could have thought to draw a parallel between that line and Katsuhiro Otomo's classic 1988 film "Akira" — and that's just what he did in the video for "Stronger."

Filmed in Tokyo and L.A. and directed by Hype Williams, the video shows the story of West gaining telekinetic powers and escaping military confinement against a lush cyberpunk backdrop, much like Tetsuo Shima from "Akira," with lots of imagery borrowed directly from the movie. As explained by Williams to SOHH.com, "[West] was always inspired by 'Akira.' There was a point where we really dove in and wound up filming parts of that movie for the video, but we decided to back off of it and do something a little more abstract for the final version."

Kanye's passionate love for "Akira" is no secret to his fans; he has cited it as one of his two all-time favorite films alongside "There Will Be Blood" (via IndieWire). As recently as 2008, he even tweeted that "Every stage show I've ever worked on Every video not just Stronger every product even when I was in the hospital I would think... oh s*** this is like Akira." Let that be an incentive for his ever-voracious fans to look for "Akira" references in the rest of his videography.