If you're of a certain age, do you remember the first time you saw AKIRA, or any of the Dirty Pair or original Macross cartoons? Coming from a steady diet of Hannah Barbera cartoons, it was like trading a transistor radio for a high-end stereo or seeing the grand canyon with my own eyes. The cinematic scope of the entire thing just blew me away, and my world was fundamentally changed.
The first time I saw AKIRA, I was 13 or 14, and it was on a fifth generation VHS bootleg, purchased for some ungodly sum at a con. My friends and I watched it over and over again, without the benefit of subtitles or dubbing, developing our own storyline that we would eventually learn had nothing at all in common with what was really going on.
It was a very different world back then if you were into anime or just about anything outside of mainstream culture. The Internet didn't exist at all like it does today (the closest we had were large closed networks like GEnie and Compuserve - this even pre-dates AOL) so we just didn't have tons of cartoons and communities at our fingertips like we do now. We relied on whatever we could find at cons - often at great expense - or what we heard though a grapevine that was nearly as reliable as the one in Johnny Dangerously.
So when I saw a post on Reddit titled "I saw AKIRA for the first time last night. Would someone explain WTF happened at the ending?" this morning, it was with great amusement that I left the following comment:
You damn kids today. When I saw AKIRIA for the first time, it was a fifth generation VHS bootleg, without dubbing or subtitles. We had to make up our own story to go along with the animation, and when we finally saw the movie with dialog we could understand, we discovered that everything we thought was wrong. And we liked it!
I'll tell you what happens at the end of the movie: Tetsuo gets off my goddamned lawn, and then I call Kaneda's parents.
For those of you looking for a serious and more insightful answer, Redditor themanwhowas has got you covered. I highly recommend checking it out.