Akira

Vol: 6; Ch: 120
1982 - 1990
4.582 out of 5 from 1,823 votes
Rank #268
Akira

In the aftermath of WWIII Tokyo was re-built as Neo-Tokyo; thirty-eight years later it has become a major metropolis. With the memory of the war and reconstruction fading, corruption, criminality and civil strife are threatening to tear the city apart. The military has a secret project developing humans with psychic powers which they hope will help Neo-Tokyo solve its problems. However, when one of the test subjects escapes and hides with one of the biker gangs plaguing the city, the military does everything it can to recover its test subject and cover up the existence of its research program...

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Reviews

nathandouglasdavis
9

My 1,700th Review! This story is a classic for a reason: it's prettty durn good. The realistic and interesting character motives and general aesthetic of a deteriorating futuristic cityscape are probably the highlights. The action scenes are alright, and can be quite intense and adrenaline-pumping when they hit right, but can also feel a bit repetitive at times. There are perhaps too many chase scenes. Sometimes leading to people getting caught, then escaping. Sometimes leading to people getting cornered and engaging in a shoot-out. There are also several scenes of trying to sneak into an area, which then (of course) will often then lead to either a chase scene or a shoot-out of some sort. There are also a ton of explosions and moments of architectural destruction. I guess what I'm saying is that the plot feels like it's going in circles sometimes and it might've been improved if there was a smidgen more variety to the sorts of plot devices used to keep the readers hooked. The ending was alright enough...I guess. It wasn't bad. And I suppose I can see how it could make sense, but it also felt a little bit out of place. Like, I don't understand why Kaneda and Kei have decided to align themselves with the movement they're aligning themselves with. Even the moment that Kaneda had in the vision-world in the playground (and the presumed shift in certain relationship dynamics) doesn't adequately justify why Kaneda would align with that movement. And it definitely doesn't justify why Kei would be interested in that movement. Are we supposed to assume that Kei is just following Kaneda's lead? Because that doesn't line up very well with what we'd seen from Kei's personality previously. I dunno. It just felt like there were a lot of gaps and that it didn't flow super naturally from the events that preceded it, like it just came out of nowhere.  My favorite side characters are probably Chiyoko and Birdman, but I also think the Colonel had a pretty interesting character arc. I'm pretty cool with all of the main characters--Kaneda, Tetsuo, Kei. I will say that Akira is about as boring and passive of a character that you could get, which leads to some of Akira's actions feeling somewhat weakly explained (because we have a very minimal understanding of what is motivating or leading to those actions). It's okay though. I think some of the important elements--like how Akira had bonds with the elder-children--were conveyed, at the very least.

Ebonyslayer
10

The one anime movie that I saw on Toonami that got me hyped a few years back will forever be remembered as the day I first saw Akira. As soon as I heard it had a manga I had a feeling I would read it sooner or later and now that I have its time to share my thoughts on why Akira deserves to be called a masterpiece. Story- In the aftermath of World War 3, the city known as Neo-Tokyo is built as a replacement for Tokyo. However, it doesn't take long for the war to start fading as corruption, crime, and civil strife start to tear the city apart. The military has started a secret project in developing humans with psychic powers in hopes of helping the city with its problems. When one of the test subjects escape, they will do whatever they can to recover the subject and to keep the project hidden. Tetsou, one of the guys from Kaneda's biker gang gets directly involved with the escaped subject, and from there that's where everything begins. The movie feels abbreviated compared to the manga itself because of the difference in detail. There are so many characters and story details that get fleshed out more in the manga because the author has much more time to tell the story in comparison to the movie. And you never have to wait long cause the pacing has the ideal quickness to it, going from one event to the next. Actually had to pace myself slower because of that, take my time so I could enjoy it longer. And the ending itself was pretty satisfying, wrapping up on a strong note that'll last with me for a long time to come. Art- The way Otomo sets up the panels for the series is actually what helps revolutionizes the manga industry, as well as some of the scenes that left an impression on me, both the ones that were beautiful and the ones that were horrifying. Otomo had the ideal artstyle that fit the thriller vibes I had with the series, fitting the characters and the atmosphere of the series. Characters- The author was very smart with how he wrote his characters. I really loved Kaneda, how he was funny and how he reacted humanly to the changing situation, when he's honest and straightforward with other characters, he is the character that takes matters into his own hands, even when he fights against Tetsou, making me cheer for him more and more. There is Kei, the girl who was involved with rebelling against the hidden millitary project, that grows closer with Kaneda during the course of the series. Then there is Tetsou, the main antagonist and childhood friend of Kaneda who becomes the driving force for him throughout the series. Even the side characters get some good development, showing how epic the author is. Overall- I was extremely satisfied with Akira the manga. It showed society at its worst, the strength of the human spirit, how politically intriguing during its story. I can see why Akira got reissued, it sets the ideal standard for other manga. I am even willing to recommend this series to those who are more watchers than readers, cause this is a series you have to read, one way or another. Akira is just that awesome!

RKasa
10

A masterpiece, and one of just two manga that I've read all the way through more than twice (the other being the very different Azumanga Daioh). Akira is a psychic tale, a cyberpunk story, a gritty urban drama, glorious disaster porn, the fraught tale of two teenage boys and their friendship/rivalry, and, at the end of the day, one of the most influential manga of all time. Without Akira, and without Katsuhiro Otomo, we wouldn't have Ghost in the Shell, or Battle Angel Alita, or Banana Fish, or even Pineapple Army (go look at Naoki Urasawa's art for that and tell me it's not Otomo-influenced). If you have any interest in manga as a medium at all, Akira is a must-read alongside other storied classics like Phoenix, Barefoot Gen, and Nausicaa. It's also an engrossing page-turner of a manga. The story is well-known: it's the year 2030, long after a mysterious new weapon leveled Tokyo and kicked off World War III. A teenaged biker gang enters a restricted area of Neo-Tokyo and encounters a young boy with the wrinkled skin of an old man. An explosion happens, gang member Tetsuo is whisked away by the government, and the gang's leader, Kaneda, tries to find out what's going on. During his journey, Kaneda encounters gruff and secretive military types, powerful psychics, a government resistance group, shady politicians, and eventually, the one known as No. 28, or Akira, who is the focus of all these disparate factions. Meanwhile, Tetsuo's nascent psychic powers develop thanks to the military's experiments, and he starts to loosen from their grip... The anime, while more famous than its source material, only covers about 40% of the manga's story, and relegates some major supporting characters, like Nezu and Lady Miyako, to tiny background roles. In addition, both Kaori and Akira are handled very differently, in part because the movie compressed so much of what happens in the manga. In the manga version of the tale, individual events are given more breathing room, and some things that may be confusing in the movie are explored at length. If you watched the movie and are intrigued by the world and the characters, but found yourself frustrated with the story and pacing, give the manga a try. Most of the characters can be described entirely in a sentence or two. Some, like the Colonel and the Doctor, don't even get proper names. However, the main trio-- Kaneda, Tetsuo, and the tomboyish resistance member Kei-- develop quite a bit of nuance in their personalities and motivations, and there is a lot of chemistry in how the overall cast interacts with each other. There are even some humorous moments breaking up the drama every so often, with these scenes usually involving Kaneda and Kei. The pacing is nicely balanced between scenes of talking (or arguing) and action setpieces, with the biggest and best of the latter pushing Otomo's outstanding draftsmanship talents to their limits. He is a master when it comes to drawing buildings and large-scale sceneries... and their destruction. Some of the best panels, in terms of scale, show tiny human figures being tossed up against massive slabs of concrete and whole chunks of buildings. There are very, very few weak spots in this manga. I still prefer the movie's ending; the manga's is a little too open-ended and sentimental compared to the rest of the series' tone. The scenes involving Nezu's compound are also a low point (albeit not much of one), where the story slows down considerably and new characters are introduced who, in the end, don't contribute much to the overall tale. However, the payoff at the end of that arc is worth the wait, and the series as a whole is not dragged down by these less impressive moments. If you consider yourself a serious manga connoisseur, or just a fan of action-packed stories, and haven't read Akira yet, what are you waiting for? There's a reason why it has stood the test of time, and is still so beloved by many, decades after it has ended.

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