Welcome to Neo-Tokyo, built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by a blast of unknown origin that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, making him a target for a shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like the one that leveled Tokyo. At the core of the agency’s motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear of an unthinkable, monstrous power known only as Akira.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s stunning science fiction masterpiece is considered by many to be the finest work of graphic fiction ever produced, and Otomo’s brilliant animated film version is regarded worldwide as a classic.
This edition includes a new foreword from the author and a postscript from Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson!
A manga milestone, showing the postapocalyptic genre flexing its muscles
Who the heck is Akira? A great open question, just like the origin of the behemoths in Attack on Titan. Asians just know how to fish and also hold the attention of an audience. In this exceptional case, it´s also mixed with some
Science fantasy post apocalypse cyberpunk It´s outstanding for the reason that Otomo can dance at all these weddings without offending any of the guests, not even one genre savvy mother in law. There´s something for everyone, because thanks to the grain of fantasy in a mainly violent and tech centered universe, each reader will find something perfect for her or him. Especially because this expands to
The protagonists have to struggle with the mental and physical consequences of their actions Thereby, a complex and credible character evolution is compared with the badass abilities to ensure the anticipated overkill mega disaster, no matter how invulnerable one is.
Trying to find comparisons and „Who inspired who“ pedigrees in sci fi and manga/graphic novels This part is irrelevant drivel: My reading highly depends on listopia, meta user ratings, old school literary prices, etc., let´s just say that I like to do my homework research as a security measure to make sure that just the best stuff enters my shelves as second hand paperback. This is combined with taking ridiculously huge amounts of speech notes, cobbling them together into reviews, and comparing genres, subgenres, and authors. That was the exposition Here comes the topic related stuff. While entering graphic novels, mangas, and comics, I´m permanently having vivid flashbacks to reading tons of science fiction and science fantasy and the big, open question. Is modern sci- fi a purely Western thing or did many authors reinterpreted and borrowed ideas from mangas and graphic novels? Especially regarding cyberpunk, hard sci-fi, and some social sci fi (space opera not that much as it subjectively seems at the moment) I would really like to know who first invented it because the similarities are just too huge to be random.
The first volume of the paperback serialisation of Otomo's critically acclaimed science fiction / dystopian epic set in a post-World War III (38 years later) Neo-Tokyo. Motor bike gang members Kaneda, Yamagata and Tetsuo's lives are changed forever when they come across a strange being in restricted area of the city. I am afraid I remain under-awed with my third reading of this acclaimed Manga series! 6 out of 12
The version I read collects Akira #1-6, and is in glorious Eclipse (Epic Comics) colour! :D 2020 read; 2012 reads (twice!)
I first watched the anime adaptation of Akira when I was an eight or nine years old kid (despite the gruesome images and the violence, the anime was still aired in daytime 'family hours' during summer holiday back then, shocking) and the whole thing really scared the shit out of me. I mean, what eight years old kid has the strong-enough mentality to handle the image of little children who look like elderly, evil looking massive teddy bear, and a teenager turns into a mother fucking monster!?
I only started to appreciate this Sci-Fi masterpiece when finally I mustered up enough courage to overcome my childhood trauma and watched the anime again when I went to college.
Decades later, I am now reading the manga version of Akira, I am impressed by Katsuhiro Otomo's realistic and detailed artwork, his gloomy worldview and his creativity! I'm speechless!
I'm pleasantly surprised by how the manga is different from the anime movie, and I really couldn't put the book down, off I go to read the next volume!
I re-read Akira because real life and the society situations have become unbearable. In this re-read, I can relate to the members of the teenage biker gang and their attitude: even before they were born, decisions had been made by adults who only care about their own interests, their world had been broken up and fucked up by forces which are entirely out of their control, and there is no way out for them outside of being trapped in a city which only viewed them as disposable losers. So what did those teens do? They rebelled, they broke things up randomly, they disturbed the peace and the order of the society, that makes so much sense.
Akira: And A Boy Shall Rule Them All... Badly. A Boy Whose Head Contains A Supernova
'Akira' and 'Lone Wolf and Cub' were among the first complete manga masterpieces to be published in English, and despite the mirror-imaging, were very similar to their original tankobon incarnations. Katsuhiro Otomo's SF-classic 'Akira' -- as well as it's equally brilliant predecessor, 'Domu' -- revolutionized Japanese comics. It introduced realistic, incredibly detailed artwork that merged a far more subtle manga stylization with European influences, incorporating aspects from the art of 'Metal Hurlant' regulars Moebius, Francois Schuiten, and Enki Bilal. The importance of 'Akira' is difficult to express, but it certainly rivals US contemporaries 'Watchmen' and 'The Dark Knight Returns', and it ran far longer than either title, giving it an epic scope and grandeur that exceeds both of those seminal works. If it was a decision between: Katsuhiro Otomo, 'Domu' and 'Akira'; Frank Miller, 'Batman: Year One' and 'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns'; or Alan Moore, 'V for Vendetta' and 'Watchmen'; I'd say that Otomo created the best and most influential works of the 1980's. That ignores some huge titles, like 'Love and Rockets' and 'Maus' and 'Raw' and 'Weirdo' and 'Yummy Fur' and 'The Incal' and 'Les Cites Obscures', etc... but I'll stand by it, with all due respect.
All that hyperbole crosses without friction to the film adaptation... perhaps the best anime -- and animated -- film ever made. But Otomo wrote and directed his debut when he was only around half-way through the manga. The 6-volume, 2200+-page series is not just 'worth checking out' for fans of the anime, it's essential. The film contains less than 15% of the super-epic that inspired it, but the art, the characters, the basic plot, and the light-speed pacing will all be unmistakably familiar.
On a Technical Note: While I prefer the original right-to-left orientation for translated manga, Kodansha is still using the Dark Horse translation that appeared before Japanese formatting surprised the hell out of US publishers by catching on. It's only as big a deal as you make it, in my opinion; obsessive-compulsive types are out of luck, but anyone who has recovered from the mind-blowing shock of confronting a left-handed doppelganger in the bathroom mirror will do just fine. My preference for R-to-L has to do with preserving the artist's original vision... does that sound right? Something like that, anyway. As far as accessibility, flipping the art is probably easier for weak western minds and eyeballs. I'd rather watch a film reflected in a mirror than I would one played in reverse.
Domu: Otomo's Pre-Akira Masterpiece
Otomo's first masterpiece is overshadowed by the grandeur of Akira, but both the art and the story display the full-range of his creative powers. In an apartment mega-complex with thousands of residents, the suicide rate has risen dramatically. An old man with terrifying psychic abilities has become senile, and is now indulging his deadly and selfish whims, manipulating the residents like puppets and sending some to their deaths.
The families of the victims are baffled. The police investigating the deaths don't know what to make of it all, but as they follow the bizarre trail of clues, they get closer to a killer they're incapable of stopping. But when a little girl moves in with her family, the old man is suddenly confronted by someone determined to stop his malevolent games, a child with powers that might exceed his own. The town-sized apartment complex becomes a battlefield between two psychic juggernauts, and the old man's malicious games unleash a storm of telekinetic fury that threatens to kill hundreds of innocent people.
Otomo was far ahead of his time, and his genius for graphic storytelling inspired an entire generation of young mangaka. Domu holds up remarkably well, and deserves to have a much wider audience; unbelievably, this is somehow out of print in North America. I don't know what the fuck Kodansha is thinking, but they need to publish a new edition and promote it. If you haven't read Domu, stop whatever you're doing and run blindly around the countryside screaming the title until someone finally tries to pacify you with a copy. If some asshole shows up with 'Appleseed', add projectile vomit and urine to the routine. Accept no substitutes.
Like many, I read comics as a child, but I was not avid--never a collector--and it was not until I became an adult and returned to comics that I began to look at what they can be, and the stories they can tell. Whatever avidity I lacked then, I have since made up for, becoming an incidental snob for European comics.
Similarly, despite my familiarity as a child with Japanese anime, it is only in recent years that I have returned to that tradition. I watched Dragonball, Sailor Moon, and Ronin Warriors when they first appeared on American television in the mid-nineties. I recall seeing violent, action-packed films on the weekends on the Sci Fi channel.
This was before America had a concept of 'anime' or 'manga', but I recognized the art style in the 'Special Interest' section of Blockbuster, and began a tradition of renting one of these over-the-top movies each time I had a birthday. I still remember my friends and I waking in horror one morning to discover my mother had put in the tape of our latest blood-spurting Sci fi flick--against our expectations, she enjoyed it--she even took us to see Ghost in the Shell during its art house theatrical release.
Yet I drifted away from it in the intervening years, and even when I started reading comics again in college, I didn't seek out manga. To some degree, my disenfranchisement was due to the American fandom, which has made popular a lot of very inane comics and shows. Many of the movies I enjoyed as a pre-teen were juvenile romps which I cannot enjoy now.
Yet there are great comics and pieces of animation coming out of Japan every year, even if they don't always become popular. So, one day as I found myself searching in vain at the tenth comic store for back issues of a late nineties anthology which included a translation of a Franco-Belgian cowboy comic I have grown to love, I suddenly asked myself why I wasn't doing the same thing for Japanese comics--especially because there was a whole wall of them the next aisle over, a luxury an American fan of European comics has never known.
So I began with Lone Wolf and Cub, primed by my love of Kurosawa movies. In terms of Legend, the next choice was obviously either this or something by Tezuka (who will surely follow). Since I had seen the film as a child and made it my first DVD purchase when I got my laptop (one of the few breaks in the long anime hiatus of my college years), the pull of this book was strong.
Otomo is one of those preeminent figures in comics--like Moebius or Tezuka--who both as artist and writer revolutionized the way comics looked and felt, and the ways they told stories. Between his meticulously realized architecture and technology, epic fight scenes, and influential body horror visions, his work seems nigh irreproachable. The reader is often struck by the power and beauty of his panels. Additionally, the transitions he chooses are inventive and lend some scenes that subtle, sensory pacing never seen in American comics.
Yet there are odd moments when a head or arm will be the wrong shape or size, and lacking dimension. It is strange in such a detailed work to see such elementary mistakes--the sort of thing I have never seen Moebius do. These errors are few, and hardly compromise the work, but they are somewhat jarring.
The manga has much more plot and complexity than the film, but you don't see it until later volumes. Even though there is often a lot going on--many characters running around the city, all at odd and running into each other periodically--the story sometimes lacks for depth. All the back and forth and action keeps things moving, but it's not always the most direct or effective way to tell the story. The frenetic pace often progresses at the cost of character development.
The characters in the story are not dynamic, changing figures: their mentalities and goals stay the same throughout the series, which is a long time to go without change. We do get moments of confrontation between the characters where their relationship is brought to the forefront, but since we rarely get any buildup to these moments, they tend to feel rather artificial.
In fact, when I watched the film again, I found it does a much better job of developing the characters and their relationships, using a gradual series of meaningful interactions to let the audience know what these characters think of one another, and why.
Otomo touches on a lot of ideas about power, technology, military force, and personal identity, but often, these notions are communicated though exposition--characters sit down and talk about them. It would have been more effective if there had been shorter character arcs withing the story where the personal conflicts and changes they went through would help to reveal these concepts and explore them more fully.
But that has long been a critique of many of the more lengthy manga (and anime) series: that they end up spending a great deal of time going back and forth with lots of similar instances of combat to the detriment of the story and pacing. There is a real artistry to the combat, which Otomo clearly takes delight in crafting--and the visuals are often effective and engrossing--but he's constantly calling back to these big ideas of philosophy and interpersonal conflict, so the form and function are sometimes at odds.
But for all that, it's impossible to ignore how well visualized everything is, and how complex and multi-layered the society and politics are. This is clearly a work of great intensity and concentration, where (nearly) every panel is the result of forethought and an abundance of ideas. It is no wonder that this work is widely influential because it is so full of imagination that it challenges the reader to think about the medium in new ways, and demonstrates the power of the singular vision of an artist.
That’s basically the extent of my memory of Akira, an anime movie I watched when I was 9. So I was interested to learn that it’s also a critically acclaimed comic that’s hailed as one of the finest the medium has ever created. First published in 1982, the comic predates the film by 6 years though interestingly both were created by one man, the visionary artist Katsuhiro Otomo, who was an astoundingly young 28 years old when this book was first published, meaning he’d written/drawn this epic story at an even younger age! It’s astounding because of how accomplished the style here is and how well Otomo understands the language of comics - but I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Akira is set in 2030, a decade after a powerful new bomb destroyed Tokyo completely, leading to World War 3. Neo-Tokyo is populated with drug-fuelled biker gangs battling each other over turf, one of which our protagonists Kaneda and Tetsuo, two best friends, belong to. During a late-night race they encounter a weird young boy with the face of an old man being chased by shady government types. Tetsuo crashes his bike and is abducted by this secret army force. When he re-emerges, Tetsuo has blinding migraines but possesses incredible psychic powers – what is this secret organisation, who are these weird-looking kids, and what is Akira?
I really wanted Akira to live up to the hype but unfortunately it doesn’t. I’d forgotten the character flaws that were probably in the film but are shown here in all their disgrace. Kaneda, our “hero” is probably one of the most despicable protagonists I’ve read since “Message to Adolf Part One”, a book by another acclaimed manga artist, Osamu Tezuka. And like Tezuka’s main character, Otomo’s Kaneda is a sexual predator. After knocking up the school nurse and completely ignoring her pleas for help in deciding what to do about it, he tries to rape the only other female character in the book, Kei! What is it about Japanese artists and their appalling treatment of women?!
When he’s not being a sexual creep, he’s getting stoned and drag-racing his motorbike through the streets - and we’re supposed to think this is awesome and cool! I realise Akira is a 6-volume story and it’s altogether possible that Otomo’s setting up Kaneda in the first book as this immature prick at the beginning of his arc and ends with him completely changed for the better, but the way the character is written doesn’t make me want to invest any more time in reading the rest of this series.
I think the story’s emotional crux is predicated on Kaneda/Tetsuo’s friendship but I never believed they were very close. You could tell they were pals, but besties? Tetsuo just seemed like another member of the gang. We never see why Kaneda would care so much about him. None of the characters are very well written either. The Colonel character is your regular army officer stereotype, the various gang members act as you’d expect, ie. like punks, and so on. They’re all pretty much one-dimensional.
There also isn’t much of a story. This 360 page book is basically a series of chase sequences between Kaneda and the resistance and the army. But who are the resistance and why are they helping free the experimental old-faced kids? Who are those weird kids? Why is Kaneda holding on to a special pill everyone’s chasing? And if it’s just a pill, why don’t they have more? Pills are mass-produced after all. I never really understood the point of the book or much of the world of the story. Besides the biker gangs and the army, there isn’t much to Neo-Tokyo, it’s just unpopulated urban sprawl with lots of empty highways and construction zones.
As weak as the story and characterisation was, I was still impressed with the storytelling style. The action is ambitious and frenetic but always clear to follow. It’s easy to see Otomo moving on from making comics to making movies later in his career as he has a strong eye for visual storytelling. He knows the importance of providing an establishing shot for a scene, when to focus on a character, when to pull back and include other characters, how to populate a panel perfectly so it’s not cluttered, and when to let a scene breathe. He knows implicitly where to put the “camera” for the best effect of a scene and how to represent different kinds of scenes – traditional panelling for dialogue/character-driven slower scenes, and more dynamic layouts/splash pages and so on for pacier scenes like chases and gunfights.
Continuing the idea of Otomo as a visual storyteller, there’s a notable lack of narrative boxes in the comic and almost nothing in the way of exposition. This is another aspect of the book I really liked, with the artist letting the reader see the story play out naturally and allowing more opportunities for the reader to engage with the story – pay attention or fall behind! I like that the story isn’t spoon-fed to the reader.
It’s surprising that someone so young could not only understand but execute such a sophisticated way of storytelling like he has in this book. It’s an expertise you tend to see in older artists but underlines how dedicated Otomo was to his craft that he must’ve started very young to develop so quickly in the way he did. I wish Otomo had had another writer do the script for him, partly to overcome the problems I’ve mentioned, or at least had an editor who could’ve tightened it up for him and maybe directed him in a more fruitful direction, because I think Akira has the potential to be the legendary comic others have said it is, but because Japanese manga is almost always long-form storytelling, it was allowed to run to 2000 pages and becomes a bit of a stagnant story to readers like me as a result.
The art itself is unmemorable and resembles a lot of generic manga. It also has the problem of the characters looking too much alike. Kaneda and Yamagata looked the same in certain scenes and during the biker fights I couldn’t tell which side was which – colour might’ve helped, assuming the gangs wore gang colours to differentiate between themselves (this is a black and white comic).
I wouldn’t dismiss Akira entirely because of its commendably ambitious sci-fi/horror story that was enormously influential and the masterful visual storytelling Otomo possesses, but it’s a book that’s difficult to like for its characters and often directionless, sometimes rambling plot. Maybe the series gets better in later volumes but based on this first book alone, I’d say this might be one of those rare instances where the movie surpasses the book (I’ll have to re-watch it to decide). Either way, I’m not particularly interested in picking up Volume 2 to find out who or what Akira is, so this book fails in delivering perhaps the most important job of a first volume: leaving the audience wanting more.
If I hadn't seen the film version of Akira way back in the late eighties, at a midnight screening at our local Indy theatre (run by the crazy Swede my Dad hated for selling us a nicked table), and if I hadn't watched it repeatedly over the next twenty some years, I'd have read this manga this week with complete disdain. But the movie, luckily, is a masterpiece, and it is based on the full six part manga, so I have some sense of where Akira is going and what makes it worth while.
As a stand alone chapter, though, Akira #1 is poor. The characters are all lame in some way, one dimensional and boring: Tetsuo and Kaneda are impossible to empathize with or like, the kids being experimented on are lame, the Colonel is all yankee action movie bluster, Kei -- the hyper-capable love interest -- has become an overdone stereotype. The action is too frenetic. The pace is unrelenting in a bad way. The dialogue, in translation, is laughable. Even the future world is suffering due to the passage of time.
Yet there is something, one thing, that redeems Akira for me. I often talk with friends about the cinematic qualities of American and British comics and graphic novels, but those books have nothing on Akira. Akira is like the missing link between the page and screen. I don't know manga, so I can't speak to whether or not this is a common feature, but Katsuhiro Otomo discards all attempts at explication. There is know "meanwhile," no "Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters," no added commentary to refresh our memories, no bits of narration to make transitions easy. Otomo is all film editor. One bit ends and the next panel takes us somewhere else. A straight cinematic cut from one piece of action to the next.
For me, it's worth reading just for that.
So even though I was super disappointed with this reading experience, I will keep reading the series. Maybe it will get better. Maybe the whole will be as good as the film it inspired. Maybe its just the most elaborate first draft screenplay/storyboard ever assembled. I'll soon find out, so I'll let you know.
At this point I believe most people at least heard about Akira. I've been a huge fan of the movie but finally I got the chance to read the manga too. What sticks out to me is just how simple it is, there is no crazy amount of exposition, just two three pages with shocking good art and a caption here and there.. But that's more than enough to get you hooked, you have to keep in mind this book is pushing for 40 years of age and it still does better worldbuilding than 99% of the Manga / graphic novels out there today.
That combined with the art which is so mesmerising to look at, makes this one heck of a lasting reading experience. My only critique on that note is the faces, but that is a point most mangaka suck at… I get it there have to be restrictions but dropping cute round looking faces into a highly detailed / hyper realistic backdrop still bugs me. It helps that the facial expressions get the emotions across just fine.
Otomo the writer also stated that Akira the character was inspired by tetsujin 28 (hence number 28) another manga he read in his youth, just that he adds a very serious layer on top of that of being a weapon of mass destruction. How sick is that, I have to respect it as its genius and funny at the same time.
If it came out recently it would be a 4.5 but as a pioneer it is a full 5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Por diferentes fuentes, había escuchado que existía este manga, considerado un clásico de los años 80, tanto por la trama como por el arte. Decidí comprar el primer volumen sin saber nada más, principalmente porque hoy en día es casi imposible indagar en Internet sin enterarte de inmediato de numerosos spoilers. La historia transcurre en el futurista año... 2019. En 1982 se desató la Tercera Guerra Mundial y la ciudad de Tokio quedó destruida. Los protagonistas viven en Neo-Tokio, una versión cyberpunk de la ciudad que brotó en los alrededores de la anterior ciudad destruida. En este contexto, el protagonista, Kaneda, es el líder de una banda de delincuentes juveniles que se dedica a correr carreras con motocicletas, drogarse, y algunas cosas más. Una noche, se encuentran un personaje misterioso que dispara la trama. Contrariamente a lo que pensaba, "Akira" no es el protagonista, y de hecho, al terminar de leer este volumen, todavía no tengo la menor idea de quién o qué es Akira. Para resumir: ¿Lo recomiendo? Sí. ¿Tengo ganas de leer el siguiente volumen y enterarme cómo continúa la historia? Sí.
BRUH. honestly? I enjoyed this more than i enjoyed the movie. everything makes sense here, the transitions from one scene to another go smoothly (the anime has a flaw in this regard), character design works better, the characters themselves, especially minor ones, are actually given some characterization and time to develop hence the increase of the emotional impact certain scenes had on me (MY BOY YAMADA MAN. R.I.P. to MVP). overall, very nice so far, I think that reading the manga before/after watching the anime is actually a requirement if you want to really understand what the author really meant by all of...this. oh, by the way - fuCK YOU, TETSUO, and your inferiority complex, too.
so I just watched the iconic movie for the first time and whilst it’s undoubtedly a groundbreaking masterpiece I still found it quite hard to follow the plot. the reason why is apparently because it only follows the events of first half of volume one and first half of volume 6 which is ?? anyways, the need for more info is obvious. here we go
If you are reading this review, there might be a possibility that you may have watched the movie and probably thinking if it is just a condensed version of the manga. So I'll start my review with that. Bear in mind though that Akira has six volumes, thus I don't know the whole scope of the similarities and the differences.
So, is the manga the same with the anime? Yes and no. The manga is way more extensive than the movie. Key plot points in the comics are also there in the movie so that the latter does not deviate that much from away the source material, but I feel that you are missing too many things in the film. There's a lot of interplay between the characters that you haven't seen in the movie, though the core elements are still there. Like Kaneda and Tetsuo are BFFs, Kei is a sort of love interest to Kaneda, you have the "children" and their look-out-for-each-other vibe.
Bike bros. Kaneda and Tetsuo's relationship and actions towards each other are pivotal to the story.
Book better than the movie? I can hardly say after reading just volume 1 of six. But I reckon that both have their own merits that make them a great on their own. But if a gun is pointed at my head and asks me to choose one, I'd say the movie. Like I said, it's an unfair judgment given this early.
It's 2019 (or 2030, it's vague) and we get anti-gravity speeders but no internet. Also, psychics. I guess that bomb messed things up in the timeline.
Still a well-written and well-drawn psychic masterpiece, although the gunfights leave a bit to be desired: sometimes you see them aim, sometimes you hear the gunshot, and it's not always easy to tell who got hit and how.
Re-read update March 2020: Okay so I have to admit since first reading this one manga (Berserk) has topped this for what I’d consider my favorite manga. That being said STILL BAD-ASS! Highly recommended.
Original review: Oh. My. Gosh. I have a new favorite manga! So I just finished reading the first volume of Akira (this) and it's considered a classic manga. Now, I expected it to be similar to the movie (which is also awesome and definitely worth your time) but wow, it's a lot different and even better! So good! Amazing artwork and action scenes! Great story and interesting characters. If I had any complaints it's that my local library probably won't let me keep it :)
This is a review of this first volume . As there are only 6 volumes in this manga , I'd be reviewing each volume separately .
Akira is set in Neo-Tokyo in a dystopian world after World War lll . It's about two friends Kaneda and Tetsuo who become enemies after an accident gives Tetsuo psychokinetic powers .
This first volume is extremely fast paced and action packed . And the illustrations are quite out of its time . There is a political sub plot , which I feel , will become central as the book progresses . With all these street gangs and police machinations of Neo-Tokyo Katsuhiro Otomo creates a dark semi-noir atmosphere , which is utterly brilliant .
This volume deals with the accident which causes Tetsuo to gain psychokinetic powers and his descent into madness . And how his friend Kaneda tries to stop him from causing any more mayhem . And then there is the sub plot with military people and rebels , about Akira , which is some source of power .
And who can forget Kaneda's iconic bike . Katsuhiro Otomo has entranced me in this cyberpunk world of drug addicts , delinquents , thugs , psychics , mad military men and whutnot . I'm really excited about the second volume .
So now mangas are my new obsession . Because they are so unique and extremely unputdownable . I've watched the movie adaptation of this book . And now it's time to experience the story in black and white .
For those completely unaware, "Akira" is set in a post World War III Neo Tokyo. Tokyo and many other cities were completely annihilated by a new type of bomb. Years later two teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda find themselves on opposite sides of a fight when Tetsuo begins to develop strange new powers. All the while a shadowy government agency is trying to track them both down, seemingly hoping to avoid yet another repeat of the bomb that started the third world war.
The first thing that struck me about Akira is that I found all the boys in the gang really unlikable. I kind of warmed to Kaneda by the end, but really they are all just a bunch of douchey juvenile delinquents and frankly I didn't care if any of them lived or died. Kaneda is particularly awful to female characters in this book very early on and that really coloured the way I looked at him for the rest of the story.
That's not meant as a criticism, as I assume it's deliberate. They're annoying teenagers, so it's part of the story, I just wished they became more likeable before the end.
It's interesting knowing this was written in the 1980s, where nuclear annihilation was still a real threat due to the cold war, and written by someone born not long after his own country was bombed. So the fear of the bomb the characters have feels totally real.
The artwork is beautiful, especially the city-scapes and vehicles. There's a real sense of scale when looking at those images.
This is one of those books that is considered by many a classic, so it's pretty intimidating to review, thankfully I really enjoyed it.
I'm not really sure what is going on quite yet, but I'm here for it.
I'm also sort of curious how the original English language version looks compared to the volumes in the box set. Seriously, this is the fanciest and most attractive box set I've ever purchased. It came lovingly wrapped with tons of padding in a box within a box. It's definitely a set to cherish and display in a prominent place in your collection.
On to volume 2. I can't wait to see where this story is going.
So apparently I'm doing this manga thing right now. Like many people, I was dazzled by the film version of this as a teen. Now, finally, I'm reading it, and it promises much more (welcome) development. A lot of the tropes are familiar -- post-destruction-of-tokyo, teen rebellion, ill-advised tapping of uncontrollable power -- but this distinguishes itself in a lot of ways:
-Though originally serialized like most manga, it's almost impossible to tell -- the plotting seems that cohesive and fully-thought-out, each episode interleaving with others and progressing the plot with inescapable momentum. -Well-developed characters. Kaneda is such a jerk, but still a totally engaging lead. I find him pretty believable in that. Kai is pretty great, and I really hope will put him in his place at some point. Tetsuo is not altogether unbelievable even in the craziness of his story. The supporting cast seems memorably distinguished too, even those who only get brief panel time. -suggestions of big themes: a lot of the context seems derived, like Godzilla and so much else in Japanese pulp, from the lasting scars of Hiroshima and Nagasake, but here it seems distinctly turned towards a cold war allegory of the all-destroying drive to power. -Otomo's art, which somehow combines a kind of kinetic, gestural character energy with elegant architectural design (advancing even beyond the meticulous apartment complexes of his prior Domu).
On the other hand, I'm honestly not all that into action comics, even if the action here is done very very well (great staging and choreography, well-paced). It's not unnecessary action, exactly, I just wouldn't mind seeing these things developed in other ways.
Anyway, this is good. Maybe great. I'm probably going to ditch out of The Drifting Classroom, in which my interest has somehow started to wane despite plagues and the emergence of cults and factions, and read this instead.
Si vas a leer un clásico del manga y de ciencia ficción, no hay nada mejor que poder hacerlo de la forma más próxima a su edición original japonesa. Y Norma Editorial lo ha conseguido. En blanco y negro, con sentido de la lectura oriental, el canto de las páginas a color amarillo canario y conservando las onomatopeyas originales. La obra magna de Katsuhiro Otomo en su máxima pureza con una edición definitiva. El viaje a la hostil y caótica megalópolis de Neo Tokyo, en un Japón que pasa por recuperarse tras la caída de una bomba atómica a finales de 1992.
Cuarenta años después, estamos ante un estado militarizado hasta las trancas que experimenta con una serie de niños y su potencial paranormal. También vemos, una sociedad llena de huérfanos y pandilleros. Entre ellos, Kaneda y Tetsuo. Su panda de moteros se dedica al vandalismo y la drogadicción como divertimento. Todo cambia la noche en que se cruzan con uno de los niños experimentales, Kaneda roba una misteriosa droga y Tetsuo acaba en el hospital. El inicio de una serie de actos inimaginable que envuelve a los dos protagonistas en el enigma de Akira.
Otomo, tan frenético como cinético, guía el timón de Akira a toda velocidad como si de un director de cine se tratara. Panel a panel, como si una escena concatena con la siguiente, corte a corte No hay introducción. No hay dimensionalidad en sus personajes. Toda la trama se va entrelazando en episodios repletos de carreras, de tiroteos y persecuciones con un arte brillante y detallista. Tiene un pro y un contra. La empatía con los personajes protagonistas es complicada e inexistente, pero el ritmo argumental es tan potente que te atrapa por completo. Las páginas pasan y pasan, los misterios van quedando en el tintero, y la intensidad nunca disminuye.
I can see why this is a classic, and it has a lot going for it in terms of style, pacing, art and sheer epic-ness of story. On the other hand, the manic intensity just gets exhausting and old and it is very hard to care about the anti-heroic (to a fault?) protagonists, Tatsuo and Kaneda, who are pretty creepy and dull.
I've never been interested in material whose drama is exclusively to be found in frenetic activity. I need at least something else to draw me in besides fast motorcycles and exploding heads. I would say my favorite manga-type series I've read in the last few years is Urasawa x Tesuka's Pluto (Urasawa's adaptation of Tesuka's Astro Boy), which is emotionally engaging, full of suspense, with carefully orchestrated drama, and a rich and complex set of characters. That's more the kind of thing I'm looking for.
So, I doubt I'll read the rest of Akira, but I'm very glad to have had the experience of reading this first book in the series. An important book in the history of manga if not one that I fully appreciate.
The science fiction tale set in 2019 in Tokyo after the city was destroyed by World War III, follows the lives of two teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, who have a consuming fear of a monstrous power known as Akira.
The story is set in Tokyo in 2019, which has been destroyed by World War III. And among this post-apocalyptic world are the lives of two street-wise teenage friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo, to change forever when paranormal abilities are beginning to wake in the latter.
I am aware of Akira being considered a classic and the anime film holding a cult status amongst fans, yet this is the first time I really engaged with the story, which has been re-released by Dark Horse Comics and made more suitable for an European audience by printing it left-to-right instead of preserving the original Japanese way of reading. I'm not a big fan of that (I'm a fan of preserving culture and artist's vision and all that), but it didn't bother me enough to not enough this.
Akira is dark, almost cinematic and an intriguing set-up. It's not necessarily gentle to its readers - even after having read a whole volume with over 360 pages I don't feel like I can truly empathize with any of the characters, as they're all jerks and it's not like I know a lot about them anyway at this point.
There's no introduction, the narrative isn't concerned with making sure you keep up, it's busy jumping forward to the next scene of action. What could be frustrating only made me engage with it more - it felt like a challenge. Everything happened to quickly though, that I am left with a lot of questions. Who are these old-faced kids? What are these pills? And who or what is Akira?
I think I mainly liked the art for nostalgic reasons. It brought me right back to my early manga-days, but objectively speaking it's rather generic, we don't actually get to see that much of Neo-Tokyo (and I was keen for some Blade Runner vibes) and a lot of the characters look similar to the degree where I would occasionally mix them up.
I'm curious to find out where this is going. Fingers crossed all the questions I am left with are carefully plotted story arcs and not lazily-told plot holes.
Soldier: What shall we do with him, Colonel? Colonel (Shikishima): Bring him along. But separate him from the others. And don't let his age deceive you. He's extremely dangerous. Katsuhiro Otoma, AKIRA 1
I read this once before, by the recommendation of a friend at work. I liked it, gave it five stars, but I could have given it more attention. In my research about cyberpunk (inspired by my love for the movie, The Matrix) I discovered the originators of the sub-genre. In America, William Gibson introduced cyberpunk through his novel, Neuromancer. Two years before this, in 1982, Japan released a serialized version of AKIRA in Young Magazine. I read it again and loved it. As I searched for images to post in this review, I saw glimpses of the next five, and it looks amazing! The action has just begun. The story introduces the characters and first threads of plot revelation. Like Gibson, Otomo unravels the plot little by little. It provides tension and heightens excitement.
A bomb of a "new type" explodes over Japan in the start during WWIII. It happens in 1992 and the manga shows colorful pictures of the snapshot event. Thirty-eight years later, the color has gone, the rest of the manga reads black and white. A new government in Neo-Tokyo begins the setting for the rest of the piece. The kids in the manga show extreme disrespect for authority, but the reader must remember these are times of dystopia, and government instability, rebuilding of the world. They're just a buncha' punks. Destined to become cyberpunks, technically the first the world has ever known if you demolish the line of reality and imagination, which many believe to be not so far apart, especially in science fiction.
Tetsuo and Kaneda have a great friendship, act like best friends, and run with a gang of street bikers who ride around for fun and the pleasure of anarchy. In one of these expeditions Tetsuo almost runs over a small kid who looks like an old man. Tetsuo ends up in the hospital but the kid disappears. Kaneda sees him fade into the air.
The kids (all the teen males are fifteen), of course, as in the cyberpunk genre, a descendant of New Wave science fiction (the acid-trippers), pop pills and say yes to drugs. They hang out in bars and in the next scene Kaneda, a ladies man, tries to hit on a girl, only to run into a confrontation and a chase. In the pursuit they see the kid with the old face who put Tetsuo in the hospital. When they threaten to beat him up, glass shatters and a metal tank topples off a building, nearly crushing the teens.
It turns out the two in the bar have set out to protect the young man, who has 26 imprinted on his hand, and named Takashi. Kaneda takes part in the action, thrown into a bigger world, when he gets caught up in a chase by the military. The girl has to protect him and watch him since, now, he has become involved. Her name, Kei. The little old man-kid (whatever he is, have to wait for the next ones) gets sick and needs a pill as they are protecting him and walking him around the city. When they separate in the battle, another of his size comes out in a bubble, hovercraft to give him a pill and persuade him to come back. Number 27,, Masaru. It doesn't work out. The fabric of the cement building and massive slabs of concrete tear apart, dispelling soldiers and providing Kaneda and his group a difficult exit. In the process, Kaneda has stolen the pill.
Protagonist sidekick becomes the main antagonist....
Tetsuo returns to school, but with a strange attitude. He challenges Kaneda's authority to lead the group. He has a meanness about him. Kaneda goes back on the run from the army and Tetsuo must return to the hospital for more tests. The colonel notices certain brainwave patterns of interest and they inject him with certain drugs of high confidentiality.
At this time, a little girl in a crib, with an old woman's face, predicts the awakening of Akira, which we see later, a massive computer underground, but nothing else comes out about the machine in this book. Tetsuo escapes, with crazy mind powers, starts blowing up people's heads, and takes over a motorcycle rival named The Clowns. He finds he has become severely addicted to the pills and eats massive quantities of them, all provided by the gang, which they give freely. Something about willing someone's head into a supernova has persuasive qualities.
As the end nears, Tetsuo and Kaneda become enemies, since Kaneda has transformed into a powerful jerk, and kills one of the gang, by head explosion, of course. The action continues, with a wonderful twist, an artificial resolution, so more conflict and crises to come!
I appreciate the unique feel and style of the book. The "coolness" about stealing and drugs seemed archaic. Maybe I'm just older and wiser, not sure. I can understand people in this type of dystopian culture may have that kind of attitude, when governments collapse and savagery emerges. I'm excited to see what the next books hold. Looks like it gets better in progression. At the end, Mike Richardson, founder of Dark Horse comics writes: "I am envious if you are holding AKIRA for the very first time, as you have an amazing adventure ahead of you."
No time like the first time!
"[AKIRA] is a work to which I am deeply attached. It reflects the essence of my views toward life and death, and the world which surround us. I hope it will be an entertaining reading experience." - Katsuhiro Otomo
VALUE SECTION: 10/10 Analysis: Historical Value 3/3, Rereadability 3/3, Memorability 4/4
Amongst the most classic manga titles of all times, Akira has passed in history as one of the best dystopian/apocalyptic titles of all times, not only because of its detailed artwork but also because of its themes, angst-ridden characters, and grotesque action/transformation scenes.
ART SECTION: 8/10 Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Readability 2/2, Visual Effects 1/2
I must say I am amazed. The artwork is extremely detailed and dynamic, to the point it counts as a graphic novel and not as a run of the mil comic book. The world is depicted in its most cold industrial form, buildings and machinery are highly detailed, there are various angles from which we see the action, and the violence is bloody and nightmarish. Although the average viewer may find the character figures to look too generic or even hermaphrodite, this does not take away the excitement from the numerous amazing action sequences throughout the story. Also, despite the rather blunt visual effects because of technology restrictions (or the maker’s personal choice) the gravity of each explosion and death retains its shocking aspect to the fullest.
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10 Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 2/2, Development 2/2, Catharsis 2/2
Two prevailing characters, Tetsuo and Kaneda, orphans that grew up together in a world gone crazy. Although having the same background, Kaneda feels only like an edgy, teenage delinquent. He is the leader type that makes others like him and follow him and kicks ass when somebody questions his ego.
But Tetsuo, wow, the guy is one, big, crazy, son of a … His weak presence early in the film is quickly replaced by an insane megalomaniac, out to get even with the world that was hurting him all his life. He hardly knows whom to blame first; his researchers, his best friend or even his own self. And makes A LOT of damage because of it. Down inside, he is just a normal kid that never got the affection it needed to feel secure and now everyone will pay the price! A cult figure, for a good reason.
I prefer this kind of problematic characters to those lame heavy-dudes of today. Most recent stories with teenagers with issues don’t go further than shoveling us a silent-type guy whose woman was kidnapped or village was destroyed and now got ultra powerful and fights evil. Bleah!
Although they are the main two characters there are over 60 more secondary who affect the plot through various other means. The stuck-up military guy that wants to protect the status quo, the curious scientist that challenges the powers of the unknown just to see what they can do, the rebel zealots, the scheming politician, the psychic kids, all of them contribute and criticize the various facets of modern civilization in their own way.
The duration of the story is also not too short or not too long and thus you can see them change along the way smoothly. By the end of it, you actually understand them and like them for what they are. It is true that most of them are rather too simple in personality and seem to think rather 2-dimensionaly yet this doesn’t make them feel dried up at all since they develop along the way in an interesting way.
STORY SECTION: 9/10 Analysis: General Scenario 2/2, Pacing 2/2, Side Stories/Extra Spices 2/2, Plausibility 2/2, Conclusion 1/2
The theme is the rotten society and the psychological damage it does that causes its own youth to rebel and bring upon its own downfall. Yes, it’s a typical theme nowadays and there are a hundred series with a similar premise.
Amoral scientists experiment on little children, in order to harness their psychic powers. Searching in the dark for something they have no idea about, a kid named Akira goes amok, destroys Tokyo and brings about worldwide chaos. The politicians hide their shameful mistake from the public and scientists repeat the same experiment years later on a kid named Tetsuo… and get screwed again.
The story is simple in its premise and despite the mostly straightforward plot, its numerous characters flavor it through several side stories. The duration is as I said enough to let the story unfold smoothly and the conclusion, although rather corny, is satisfactory and solid. But it’s more of a story about the psyche of teenagers, not cool graphics or in-depth scenario.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10 Highly entertaining despite the rather basic premise for today’s standards. The pacing is rather slow but never wastes pages and the characters develop along the way, while the action and the mayhem are superbly depicted for their time.
VERDICT: 9/10 Well, it didn’t take much consideration. The accused is found … NOT GUILTY! … All charges were just slander and are dropped. The accused is free to go. We hope for more of you to be out there.
Quien no conoce Akira gracias a la película (aprovecho para recomendarla por cierto), aunque ya no muchos han disfrutado el manga, yo entre dichas personas pero gracias a esta preciosa y cuidada edición que nos trae Norma es caso un sacrilegio no conocer de primera mano la obra original de Katsuhiro Otomo.
Me ha chocado mucho las diferencias respecto a la película que he encontrado, en especial con Kaneda que a pesar de ser un gamberro ya en la película aquí tiene menos apariencia aún de protagonista.
En Akira seguimos principalmente a un grupo de gamberros (entre ellos el mencionado Kaneda y Tetsuo) y como sus vidas dan un vuelco tras un accidente de motos en una de sus noches de fechorías. El mundo que presenta Katsuhiro Otomo es el ciberpunk puro en todas sus facetas, dándole su propio toque con una historia que atrapa ya desde el primer volumen. No quiero relatar mucho más, tan solo aprovechar este espacio para quien lea estos párrafos y aún no conoce esta obra, se anime a acercarse.
Es un clásico que merece una oportunidad, te guste o no el manga.
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.
It’s hard to not have heard about Akira. It is the first manga series to have ever been fully translated into English and to have propelled the medium into great fame almost instantaneously. With a cult-classic revolutionary animated adaptation of the manga created by the writer and illustrator of the franchise himself in 1988, it didn’t take long for Katsuhiro Otomo’s visionary grasp on visual story-telling to be praised by everyone to this day. The impact of this franchise on a whole generation and on pop culture around the world is undeniable and rarely does anyone dare discredit its contribution to the growth of both manga and anime today. Although the movie condenses all six volumes into one flawed masterpiece, the manga takes the time—which is sort of ironic to say—to flesh out more of the setting, the events and the characters. And with Akira (Vol. 1), Katsuhiro Otomo achieves a remarkably beautiful, frenetic and suspenseful post-apocalyptic story that will dig its claws deep into you and hold your attention throughout the whole ride.
Akira (Vol. 1) is a story set after the detonation of a nuclear explosion in Tokyo on December 6th, 1982. With the start of World War III, a new city called Neo-Tokyo is hence born. In 2030 AD, this city is overrun by biker gangs with violent and dangerous behaviours who center their core business around drugs. One of these gangs is formed around Kaneda and Tetsuo who will go down as key characters throughout this series. On a rowdy night filled with adrenaline, a race among them leads to an incident where a young boy with an old man’s face stood in their way. It is from this moment forward that the story takes a turn towards science-fiction grounds and drags the readers on a page-flipping course in search of immediate answers as to what is going on. From secret organizations to psychic powers, Akira (Vol. 1) is nothing you’ve ever seen before as it is the first step towards huge change for manga and anime.
The first striking element about this volume that needs to be addressed is how manipulative and addictive the structure is. It is an extremely-light on dialogue story that heavily focuses on action sequences, especially bike chases, and there is only a limited amount of panels per page that beautifully capture the most intense moments of each scene. With the incredible artwork that brings out the most meticulous details of the ruined setting and the frenzied story-telling that pumps so much adrenaline into your blood as you try to decipher what is going on, you don’t realize how quickly you flip through the pages and finds yourself immersed in this post-apocalyptic and futuristic universe. Not to mention that Katsuhiro Otomo doesn’t take you by the hand as he tells this story. The pieces of the puzzle slowly crawl out of the ruins of Tokyo and further tease the readers of what the story is all about. In fact, the biggest question that torments the reader is who or what Akira is, and that’s what I loved about this first of six volumes. It throws you around maniacally without any care for your understanding, yet you love every second of it.
The characters in this story are intriguing in their own rights, but there was still more fleshing out that could’ve been done before or during this volume. Tetsuo’s and Kaneda’s friendship is one that should’ve been further explored before the game-changing moment took place. Their relationship plays a big role in some of the confrontations that take place and the emotional impact wished for these moments weren’t as powerful as they could’ve been if the reader had more knowledge of how close they actually were. There is also the introduction of a secret organization and their mission that is teased here, but there development wasn’t as necessary as the tease in itself was enough to keep me hooked for what they have planned in the long run. A resistance group is also however introduced and they were even more mysterious than the evil organization which sort of bugged me considering that they seemed like the good guys, yet you have no clue what they really want. At least one thing’s for sure, Katsuhiro Otomo knows how to get you hooked. His artwork alone does the job.
Akira (Vol. 1) is a wild and mysterious look at a post-apocalyptic and futuristic world where a surge in psychic powers among people announces the beginning of something terrible.
Едва ли има някой, който поне веднъж в живота си да не е чувал името Акира. Дали ще е мангата, филма от 1988-ма или Акира Куросава, който няма нищо общо, няма значение. Та за непросветлените, Акира е постапокалиптична, киберпънк фантастика, чието основно действие се развива през 2038-ма година, 30 години след избухването на Трета Световна Война. Сюжетът се развива в град Нео Токио, Япония и се върти около съдбата на двамата тийнейджъри Тецуо и Канеда, които са меко казано проблемни, но да не ги виним. След инцидент с мотор (тъй като двамата са членове на банда мотористи, на която Канеда е главатар), Тецуо е откаран за лечение... от военните. Скоро след това, той придобива психокинетични способности, които той трудно контролира, но тази новооткрита сила отключва в него мания за власт и той се изправя срещу своя приятел от детството. Така... THIS BOOK IS FUCKING AMAZING! Има своята сериозна доза насилие, екшън и хумор. Илюстрациите са чудесни и притежават изключителна динамика. Някои от героите малко си приличат, но това не е фрапантно и няма да попаднете в ситуация в която да се чудите кой кой е, а да не забравяме, че това е манга от 1984-та година. Трябва да отбележа, че това е първата от общо шест части. Цената на книгата може да ви накара да се замислите дали си струва, но за мен е totally worth it. Форматът е голям, с дебела хартия, а обемът надхвърля 360 страници. Ако искате, разбира се, можете да изчетете и шестте части в интернет, но аз лично предпочитам да си ги имам в колекцията от физически копия. А дали препоръчвам Akira... FUCK YEAH!
Probably one of the most famous anime movies of all time is Akira. I've read volume 1-2 of the manga awhile back and decided to give it a re-read. Do I still enjoy it? Short answer? Yes.
The story of Akira is interesting. It starts out as a bunch of high school delinquents being pretty shitty and one of them gets injured. This somebody gets experimented on and becomes, well, Akira, or so we're learning. A super powered human who can kill people just by thinking of it. If ever see Chronicle the movie this takes a lot from it.
And Akira still holds up pretty well to this day. The art is really strong with gigantic splash pages of action that you can easily follow. The expressions and environmental detail is all fantastic. The dialogue is solid and though semi-dated it still works for the most part.
Akira is known to be one of the great movies ever. And the movie's actual animation is insanely good still. But the story itself felt very repetitive at points. It seems like we just repeat the "Run, get away, run, wait they're chasing up, run!" over and over again. It felt a little too similar by the end. But still I will read on for everything else.