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The Hilarious Easter Egg In Akira That Took Decades To Find

Ever since it was released back in 1988, Katsuhiro Otomo's groundbreaking anime film "Akira" has been cited as one of the most influential animated movies of all time — not to mention, one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, animated or otherwise. Set in the dystopian cyberpunk city of Neo Tokyo, the film follows Shōtarō Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang who is trying to save his friend Tetsuo Shima: a telekinetic abducted by a group of corrupt government officials who view him as a threat.

"Akira" is considered a landmark film in Japanese animation, though its legacy is so much more than that. "Akira" revolutionized animated movies as a whole: the film's iconic art style, powerful story, and incredibly detailed animation proved that animated movies could appeal to adults and children alike, and the film continues to inspire a wide variety of artists to this day, including famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The film has had a major influence over pop culture ever since the 1980s, and even after all this time, fans continue to search the film for new details and hidden Easter eggs. 

In fact, it turns out that there is actually one small detail, discovered as recently as 2021, that has eluded fans for decades. And hilariously enough, it's a hidden complaint from one of the film's animators.

The film contains a hidden message around the 40 minute mark

On Christmas Eve of 2021, more than three decades after "Akira's" initial release, Twitter user HikozaTwi discovered that about 38 minutes into the movie — during a scene where two characters are chatting beside a large machine packed with all of the wires and flashing lights you'd expect in any 1980s science fiction film — there is a caution sign that contains a hidden message.

The "caution" part of the sign is in English, but below that is a small message written in Romanized Japanese (that is, Japanese words written with the Latin alphabet). Translated (via Kotaku), the message reads: "Why do we have to fill in this far! Knock it off! Enough." 

The cel animation used to create Akira was notoriously time consuming, as each frame had to be meticulously constructed bit by bit with an incredible attention to detail — and it appears that writing out the minuscule instructions on this caution sign was the breaking point for at least one animator.

While it's hysterical that the animator's complaint went unnoticed for so long, that same person might look back now and realize that all of those impressive little details actually did make a difference, since fans are still enjoying the movie so many years later. The hard work of all the animators on Akira was absolutely crucial to its success, and to the incredible legacy it left behind.