1988: It is World War III. Tokyo is decimated by a mysterious black explosion, unmatched in magnitude.
2019: Fast forward 31 years. Neo-Tokyo, hastily built on the ruins of old Tokyo, is a sprawling cityscape of neon extravaganza. It is a fusion of towering skyscrapers and cutting-edge technology that is permeated through and through with an explosive, hyper-violent cocktail of biker gangs, poverty, and revolutionaries. In this derelict metropolis live Tetsuo Shima and Shoutarou Kaneda, two bikers who are the best of friends and the fiercest of rivals, despite being affiliated with the same gang. Desperate to prove himself as Kaneda's equal, Tetsuo unwittingly pulls a stunt that culminates in the awakening of a cryptic existence that threatens to change both the face of Neo Tokyo and the lives of those who call the city their home—the awakening of a government secret simply known as Akira.
Akira won the 8th Kodansha Manga Award in general category in 1984, the Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material in 1993, and was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work in 2002.
The series was first published in English by Marvel Comics under the Epic Comics imprint and was one of the first manga to be translated in its entirety. Marvel's version was fully colorized and released in 38 trade paperback volumes from 1988 to 1996 (and later incompletely collected into 10 volumes). Dark Horse Comics republished Akira in its original 6 volume format from December 13, 2000 to March 27, 2002. Kodansha Comics USA currently holds the license and republished the series from October 13, 2009 to April 12, 2011.
The story is nothing short of amazing, so well done and with lots of consistency. It develops nicely through the 6 volumes, with a nice ending. Very few things to pick on, but I guess it isn't for nothing this is considered a great work of art. Nonetheless the progress is a bit slow in the middle (specially volume 3), but it isn't enough to do anything about the greater feeling that the story has. Also, I have some mixed feelings about the position of the bikes in the story, it seems kinda a bit too important.
Nothing bad about this. The art pleased me all the way through, both in the actionscenes and when it was more slowpaced. Characterdesign was also really cool, and panoramic views totally awesome.
The characters are really well done, with the title character topping it all (no spoilers, but he was really cool). Kei and Kaori are well done, moreso than in the anime I imagine. Most of the others were devolped in a great manner, with a good bunch of mysteries and intrigues. But I must say that the protagonist, Kaneda, got on my nerves some times, though many male protagonists are like that. I can't really explain, but I didn't like him as much as the rest of the characters.
Enjoyment is really important, and that's where Akira is the best. I finished it in about 5 days I think, it was really thrilling, and I couldn't wait untill the end, so that I could discover how it all ended. Nothing less than highly entertaining, and I enjoyed every second I was reading it. I just had to read a bit more and a bit more. On the other hand, it didn't feel to long either, thus making it almost perfect.
I discovered it on a whim, and I'm happy I did. It's the best manga I've read, by far, and I recommend it to everyone. It was really great.read more
First of all the length of this manga is misleading. I would say the length of an average manga volume is about 200 pages. Akira's manga volumes are around 400 pages so don't think you'll be able to rush through this thing. It will take time.
The main plot is focused on stopping the newly escaped, child-psychic, named "Akira" from destroying Japan and the rest of the world. For the most part we follow a motor cycle gang member named Kaneda who somehow gets sucked into this government psychic conspiracy. Kaneda doesn't really care so much about Akira as he does about his bff Tetsuo who recently transformed into a Psychic and started acting all dickish. So Kaneda teams up with the female lead, Kei, in hopes to kill Tetsuo (the super powerfull psychic) with his bare hands. Meanwhile Tetsuo creates an ally out of Akira and they half-way team up because they're supposedly on the same psychic "frequency".
The story is not your linear adventure tale, but I wouldn't call it anything really special. You have your best-friend-turned-enemy and save the world plot all in the very first volume. At times this is executed brilliantly and will leave you either cheering for Kaneda to get revenge or for Tetsou to destroy more crap with his awesomely entertaining powers. Then we get to volume 3, which is hellish at best. It reminded me of a Scooby-Doo Chase scene where everyone just keeps running in and out of doors accomplishing nothing. It's a huge weak point in the mostly spotless story line. Considering that volume 3 is 1/6 of this entire manga I can't rate story any higher.
This is an 80s manga and you'll be able to tell at first glance. The characters have that 80s look to them and don't particularly stand out art-wise. Although I'm not complaining since the backgrounds more then make up for what the character designs lack. There are absolutely stunning two page layouts all throughout Akira. The background art work delivers on a level that isn't seen in most manga today. Now back to the character designs for a second. I had a hard time distinguishing Kaneda from Kei since they have nearly identical hair-cuts and facial structures. That definitely brings the overall art score down a bit.
I like the damsel in distress character just as much as the next guy, but its refreshing to see a female lead who isn't a whiny little pussy. Kei is both mentally and physically as strong, if not stronger, then any other character in the manga. Kudos to the mangaka for trying something different. Then you have Kaneda who is the typical hot-headed hero. I was trying to make a few comparisons throughout the manga between him and Naruto without much success until he started walking out of a room then stopped. He turned around and gave Kei a big smile and a thumbs up. Then uttered these exact words: "Believe it!". If that doesn't explain Kaneda's character then I don't know what will.
I rate enjoyment rather low because there were a lot of dead spots in the manga where I just wanted the meaningless side stories to end so I could focus on the main plot. This manga could have easily shed a couple 100 pages and not lost a thing. Also the psychic powers were a bit inconsistent which had me confused for a good while. For example Tetsou is shown to have the ability to teleport, explode things with his mind, fly through space, deflect bullets, and just overall do anything he wants with his powers. Then in one part, while at full strength, he starts getting beaten up by Kaneda who has no powers what-so-ever. He just gets his ass kicked for some unexplained reason. At first they say he's powered down, but then literally 1 second after he gets punched in the face he teleports into space and destroys an air craft carrier. I was left scratching my head wondering what the hell just happened. There were too many power inconsistencies and boring side plots for me to enjoy this manga any more then I did.
There were times when I couldn't wait to turn the page to find out what happens next, but there were also times when I just wanted to skip 20 pages ahead so I could read something half-way interesting for a change. It also didn't help that the ending was well...open ended. Lots of questions went unanswered and the fate of a few important characters is never touched on. There was also a bit at the beginning where Kei's partner is described as her "sort-of brother", but there relationship goes unexplained for the rest of the series. There are a lot of little problems in Akira that build up throughout the manga. I set the standards high for this one considering its rank on MAL. It also didn't help that at the end of each volume there was a blurb about how much of a masterpiece Akira is. So is this a masterpiece? Maybe it was in the 80s, but to todays standards its nothing more than a slightly above average story manga with a lot of hype.read more
Akira is a classic.
I can only imagine how revolutionary it was for its time.
My biggest complains I have with the manga are that while it may had been breathtaking with its storytellling and characters on the 80/90's, and I did enjoyed the characters and apocalyptic scenario, both these just dont felt that amazing anymore in the current days.
The theme of Akira's was well explored, the whole death/life sci fi stuff was awesome, but the characters... with time I came to enjoy them more, but if I had to point Akira's main weakness, it would be those.
I can connect with Kaneda and the others, even Tetsuo (later on), but overall they werent that appealing.
And again, the story had some very interesting plotwists and events, but it also had some more boring arcs, so expect it, but it is interesting, and when it goes out of proportions, IT BLOWS IT SKY HIGH!
The best damm thing about Akira is the art! For its time, it is outstading, detailed, massive, clean, sharp and the action scenes are quite great.
I cant praise the manga enough in this category, it is that artisticly good.
From the gore, the pumping detailed action(great set pieces of action, some very massive and epic in scale, at least for its time), to the beautiful landscapes, ugly decaying city, full of dirt, rubble and dust...
Otomo Katsuhiro's hands are godlike with pencil, the guy is that good.
Still at this day and age, the art is just stunning beautifull, it still feels classic, but has that charm and detail to it.
I would reccomend reading the Epic version, which comes in full colours, 37 chapters, 70 pages per chapter, FULL COLOUR!
Its quality is quite good.
There will be some that will prefer to go with the classic black and white, for those... I do understand, but just think of the colour has some great extra, that you will enjoy to check out, after you have readed with original.
Seeing it drawned with the rich pallete of colours epic used, it feels like you are watching an artbook.
The manga itself (it or without colours, is already) a giant artbook! Add it
a solid and mature plot, interesting character development, amazing action scenes, and a great setting.
The Sci Fi aspect is great, I was pleasently surprised with all the phylosophy and other themes that the mangaka was bold to keep and keep exploring, again, and again, while keeping it real and interesting.
When you hear people talking about the classic manga Akira, all the praise, fear not, it is really a masterpiece that aged very well with the times. read more
Akira is arguably one of the most influential manga ever created. It turned Otomo into one of the gods of manga, even though he never again penned of a similar scale. It is his opus, as it rightly should be. The landmark film adaption, one of the most important anime ever released and one of the films responsible for the popularity of anime in America, is an achievement, to say the least. What one does not typically realize, though, is that, while the 2 hour adaption does remain true to the original for the most part, it covers less than 2 volumes of the manga before more or less fast forwarding to the end. It is actually laughable to think that Hollywood thought they could turn this masterpiece into a live-action, star studded film trilogy set in Manhattan.
The book’s art is gorgeous. Otomo has a very distinct style that not only makes his work very recognizable but also contains incredible amounts of detail. I never questioned the emotion on the character’s faces, and I recall particularly a moment in a fight between Kaneda and an overpowered Tetsuo in which their fear was almost tangible. The wide shots of Neo-Tokyo and the Great Tokyo Empire are incredible. Each and every panel is full of things that make the world of Akira so real that I felt as though I could have boarded a plane and taken pictures of the place.
Katsuhiro Otomo has directed two feature animated films, as well as a number of shorts. Akira and Steamboy both contain the impeccable eye for composition that Otomo displays in Akira. The book plays out like a movie, the panel layout directing the eye smoothly through the story in a way that is more cinematic than a large amount of actual cinema. There are no true breaks in the story, with the exception of natural lulls and scene changes. As I was reading, I often wondered how the manga was split up when it was published originally or reprinted by Marvel in the late 80s.
The story itself is intriguing. The writing is clever and well done, all of the dialogue serving to not only further the story but to give us more of a sense of each character’s personality. It does, at times, get a bit confusing. There is a lot happening all at once, and some of the similarities between character names can cause some difficulty in the beginning. But the tale of psychic teenagers and children and the immanent destruction of the world around us or society as we know it is played out quite well. Often the scale of things seems ridiculous when one takes a step back, but it is so well written that it completely works within the book.
Akira is one of the most important manga ever written. It is a piece that no one should miss. If you are fortunate enough to pick up all 6 volumes at once (an act I would highly recommend), I can almost guarantee you will finish the entire thing in a day. The book is, however, deeply steeped in Japanese culture and post-WW2 ideology. This can take away from it somewhat if you are unfamiliar/unwilling to try to understand. That being said, if you have not read this book, you are doing a great disservice to yourself.
For more of my reviews, go to tuesdaysdusk.tumblr.com/tagged/reviewread more
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Before he was one of the greatest anime directors of all time, Satoshi Kon was a manga artist. From early success in college to ambitious collaborations with the likes of Katsuhiro Otomo and Mamoru Oshii, his manga work is highly recommended to better understand his genius.