Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Todd Jurgess, Ph.D.


Animation Studies, Deleuze, Japan, MMT, Sports


This thesis politicizes Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated cyberpunk film, Akira, specifically through how it stages its myriad neoliberal crises as opportunities for accelerationist solutions mediated by the Tokyo Olympics. Akira’s display of fully animated and intense action physics produces an aesthetic relation to its own athletes that contracts around their bodies in an attempt to transgress classical and oppressive compositions. Akira’s vague utopic promise receives broad acceptance and affirmation by extant scholarship, often relying on the accelerative impulses found in the works of Gilles Deleuze to substantiate Akira’s hopeful ending. Invoking Gilles Deleuze’s notion of athleticism, this thesis critically rereads Akira’s athletic aesthetic as a woeful acceptance of neoliberal ontologies that necessitate sacrifice and destruction as a part of a zero-sum Liberal money ontology. I instead rely on Modern Monetary Theory’s (MMT) overturning of this misconceived nature of money and capital as external and uncaring forces akin to physics. I engage in, what I call, an ambient attention, weaving together money, athletics, and other multimedia forms of communication and expression as a broad cascade of interdependence and political contestation, or an ambient athleticism, thus uncoupling them and Akira from accelerationism’s fatalistic and fascistic inevitability.