The anime film Akira is widely considered one of the most influential animated movies of all time for several reasons. Sure, there’s the biting commentary on the atomic age and military complex, but we motorcyclists know that the film's biggest cultural contribution is the “Akira Slide”.

During the opening act, protagonist and bōsōzoku gang leader Shōtarō Kaneda tangles with rival bikers, the Clowns. The two-wheeled rumble leads to a head-to-head showdown between Kaneda and Clowns leader Joker. In a game of chicken, both biker bosses barrel at one another on a desolate urban street.

The two narrowly avoid a head-on collision, but Joker's cruiser wipes out in the process. Kaneda, instead, skids into pop culture history, executing the first “Akira Slide”. As luck would have it, the fuzz arrive just in the nick of time. Joker flees and Kaneda’s gang gives chase, but the scene cements the most iconic motorcycle maneuver in animation history.

If you have any doubts about that claim, YouTuber Badspler puts those objections to rest with their Three Decades of Akira Slide Homages video. According to the compilation, the “Akira Slide” was recreated 75 times between 1988 and 2021.

From textbook examples found in Teen Titans (2005) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2005) to comedic parodies pulled off by Adventure Time (2011) and Doraemon (2005), artists have burned their fair share of animated rubber in that 33-year span. These odes aren’t restricted from live-action films either. 

In Jordan Peele’s sci-fi adventure film Nope (2022), Keke Palmer’s “Em” executes a slide (on an Energica EsseEsse9) that would make Kaneda proud. On the other hand, Palmer’s rendition resembles a low-side crash as opposed to a dual-wheeled slide. Peele also stages that maneuver on a much more forgiving surface—dirt.

Virtually impossible off the drawing pad, the “Akira Slide” presents several issues on the pavement. Pulling off such an aggressive action on the road would almost certainly end in a high-speed low-side or a violent high-side. Of course, animators don’t need to abide by the laws of physics or the principles of grip, making the “Akira Slide” the perfect fit for the medium.

As long as animated films and series feature motorcycles, the “Akira Slide” will be used to imbue some character with instant coolness. We wouldn't have it any other way.

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