Title: Akira #1
Author & Artist: Katsuhiro Otomo
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Best friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo, are juvenile delinquents at a reform school. They are popping pills whenever they can and driving their motorcycles with their gang whenever they can.
One night Tetsuo gets into an accident trying to avoid a mysterious stranger and is taken to a hospital. When he comes back, he isn’t the same Tetsuo.
Kaneda gets involved with a rogue group in the process of trying to find Tetsuo and runs afoul of a secret military branch.
And through it all, Akira, a secret weapon that started and ended World War III, is spoken about in hushed tones. What, or WHO, is Akira?
I read this sometime back in the early ’00’s soon after all 6 volumes were released by Dark Horse Comics in collected form. I was wicked impressed.
I was wicked impressed this time around as well. This blends punks, drugs, military, extra-sensory individuals and teen romance into one huge story. There was very little setup and we just jumped right in to the story. Kaneda and Tetsuo are shown as good friends, but thankfully there aren’t endless flashbacks to their childhood or any such thing.
Otomo does a fantastic job of transforming Tetsuo from a slightly mild mannered punk into a vicious psychopath with unknown powers. You can also practically see Destiny with a Capital “D” surrounding his friend Kaneda as the one who will have to stop him.
This book is in a large format, which it has to be since most manga are around the 200-+ page mark and this is almost double that. One of the benefits is being able to peruse the pictures and SEE what is happening instead of just racing through the words. One thing I did find slightly disconcerting was that there were several instances where things seemed to have happened out of panel that we aren’t privy to and the characters are reacting to that. Have to pay attention.
The artwork is what we have come to expect from a Post-Apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo. Highways leading to nowhere, futuristic military “things”, the down and out slumming on the corners, massive underground mechanical items that we simply don’t know what they are.
This re-read has lived up, so far, to my memories. I am glad of that.