I saw the music video for "Stronger" by Kanye West today. The video is directed by Hype Williams and it features cameos by Daft Punk and Cassie. I was interested in the song for a while before it came out because it samples a song by Daft Punk, and they are credited as songwriters.
20 seconds into the video, I realized something that became very obvious by the end: it's very reminiscent of the 1988 Anime film, Akira. Watching the video a few times made me want to watch the movie again, so I did, and while watching it I discovered that there were multiple scenes in Hype's music video that are almost copied straight from Akira. It was to the point that the music video didn't even feel original.
So I had this idea… I figured I would take screen captures of the film and the video and put them side by side so you can see how many similarities I found. I put the screen captures together with Akira on the left. Here's what I came up with (click any picture to view it full-size at Flickr):
From the very first lab scene, it's obvious that Kanye is supposed to be Tetsuo. The 3D machine in the music video is an exact replica of the one from the film.
The motorcycles in the music video are very plain compared to the film but the light trails are identical.
The music video has some lousy riot scenes which are based on the very well-done riot scenes in the film.
It's the nurse. Despite the change in camera angle, her pose is exactly the same.
The bed scene is made to be as similar as possible, but Tetsuo is much more convincing than Kanye. Tetsuo looks like he's in serious pain; Kanye just looks like he's crying.
Tetsuo looks mad. Kanye looks hungry.
Look closely; the uniforms are the same.
When Tetsuo owned the soldiers, it was scary. Kanye didn't have the same effect.
Guess what? They both glow red.
Now let me say a couple things — first, this song isn't very good. The song by Daft Punk is very good, and the song it was based on was good too… this song, without the samples of Daft Punk's song, is just OK. Kanye's rapping isn't very good. His lyrics are dumb. Etc. etc. But all that is bearable. It's typical pop-rap music fare. A remix of a remix of a remix. What is really unbearable is this music video. It has cool graphics and some nice cinematography, but the story is a mess. Akira has a very complex and well thought-out story; you have to watch it a few times to get it, but it all fits together. There's a lot of stuff in this music video that doesn't make any sense. Why are people rioting with the police? What do the motorcycles have to do with anything? Where's the connection between the laboratory and the girl at the club? What's with the random characters (the man in the white jacket that crosses the street and the asian girl on the street at night) that appear for a few moments and aren't seen again? Even if you have seen the movie, a lot of these things still don't make sense. Without the obvious references to Akira, the music video is even more vacuous. It's a mess. I mean, if you are going to copy a classic film, you might as well do it right. You may as well do it with a bit of relevance.
But I'm looking for your opinion: with the amount of scenes that are copied from Akira in this music video, would you call this a homage or just a rip-off? What's your take on it?
P.S. Go ahead, digg this.