Akira certainly did predict the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The manga and ensuing anime are set against the backdrop of the impending 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It also appears that one panel in the manga refers to measures for combating a contagious disease.
As pointed out on the popular Japanese gaming site Hachima Kikou, in the third volume of Akira, the following panel reads, “The WHO (World Health Organization) criticizes [Neo-Tokyo’s] epidemic countermeasures.”
The Japanese word that appears in the text 伝染病 (densenbyou) can be translated as “epidemic.” (Here is another example.) However, the WHO has declared covid-19 a global pandemic. Today, Japanese officials said that the Olympics were on schedule, while President Trump is now calling for the games to be delayed a year.
As The Japan Times, where I am a columnist, reported late last month, the Japanese government and Prime Minister Abe have been facing criticism for its response to the coronavirus. The WHO, however, hasn’t recommended the need for contingency plans for the Tokyo Olympics.
However, in the anime, it’s being pointed out that the graffiti on this Tokyo Olympic countdown clock reads chuushi (中止), meaning “stop”, “suspend”, or even “cancel.” The on-screen text reads chuushi da chuushi (中止だ中止), meaning “Cancel it, just cancel it.”
According to a new poll, a majority of Japanese want the Olympics postponed.
While the Olympics are still scheduled to go, Tokyo did cancel the Emperor’s birthday greeting celebration on February 23 due to coronavirus fears. Entrants for the Tokyo Marathon were also restricted because of the virus. Numerous live concerts and gatherings have also been cancel.
Note that the date in the anime on the Tokyo Olympic countdown sign apparently corresponds to February 28, which is 147 days before the games get underway this July.
This isn’t the only thing the Akira manga seemed to have foreboded.
Last year, it was pointed out that that the Hong Kong protesters were using street signs as shields as in the manga.
These predictions are, no doubt, unfortunate real-world coincidences that, if anything, show just how relevant Akira still is after all these years.
This article was originally published on February 17, 2020. It has since been updated.