3.5 3.75 StarsThis 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 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. KANEDAAAAAAAAAAA TETSUOOOOOOOOOO 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 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 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 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 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 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. Vuelve El Cl Sico Que Desencaden La Mangaman A En Europa Y Am Rica Una Ocasi N Ideal Para Descubrir O Redescubrir El Manga Que Lanz A Katsuhiro Otomo A La Fama Internacional, En Una Nueva Presentaci N En Seis Tomos A Todo ColorEn La Hostil Y Ca Tica Megal Polis De Neo Tokyo, Tetsuo Y Sus Compa Eros Deber N Averiguar El Enigma De Akira, Bajo El Cual Se Esconde El M S Escalofriante Secreto Cient Fico La Edici N Definitiva De Una Obra Maestra Del C Mic Japon S Y Tambi N Mundial Que No Debe Faltar En La Estanter A De Cualquier Aficionado Al C Mic En General 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. 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 BRUH honestly I enjoyed this 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 ofthis 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 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 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. 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 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. 3.4 stars.For fans of hijinks ominous foreboding.Avoid if you re sensitive about being bald. 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 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 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 fully.But that has long been a critique of many of the 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.
, Otomo Katsuhiro is a Japanese manga artist, film director, and screenwriter He is perhaps best known for being the creator of the manga Akira and its anime adaptation, which are extremely famous and influential Otomo has also directed several live action films, such as the recent 2006 feature film adaptation of the Mushishi manga.Katsuhiro Otomo was born in the former town of Hasama, in Miyagi Prefecture.As a teenager growing up in the turbulent 1960s, he was surrounded by the demonstrations of both students and workers against the Japanese government The riots, demonstrations, and overall chaotic conditions of this time would serve as the inspiration for his best known work, Akira Some would argue that this seminal work is an allegory of 1960s Japan, and that one could easily substitute the year 2019 for 1969 and leave little difference in the basic story.The animation from this period especially the works coming out of Tokyo animation studios Mushi Production and Toei Doga, now known as TOEI Animation were influencing young Otomo Works like Tetsujin 28 go, Astro Boy, and Hols Prince of the Sun would help push Otomo toward a career in animation However, it was the films coming out of America that were driving his rebellious nature Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider would serve as inspiration for Shotaro Kaneda and his biker gang in Akira rebellious youth who took too many drugs and didn t care about authority or the pressures put on them by their parents generation.Otomo has recently worked extensively with noted studio Sunrise with the studio animating and producing his most recent projects, the 2004 feature film Steamboy, 2006 s Freedom Project and his latest project, SOS Tokyo Metro Explorers The Next, released in 2007.Otomo grew up a fanatic of American blockbusters, which has influenced his cinematic style throughout his huge career He grew fond of the work of artists like Moebius, and is often regarded as the person who brought a Westernized style into manga From the late seventies onwards, Otomo created numerous volumes of anthologies and short stories, which usually ran at 23 pages each Serialization for Fireball was cancelled, though the premise and themes were later to appear in the Sci Fi Grand Prix award winning Domu and Akira Otomo later moved onto directing and creating notable anime like the film adaption of Akira, Memories, and Steamboy His most recent manga have been the scripting of Mother Sarah and the short story Park released in an issue of Pafu last year He has also directed several live action films, such as World Apartment Horror, Give Us A Gun Give Us Freedom, and the 2006 feature film adaptation of the Mushishi manga.
- 362 pages
- Akira 1
- Katsuhiro Otomo
- 15 February 2017 Katsuhiro Otomo