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Akira, Vol. 1 Paperback – October 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Originally serialized in Japan between 1981 and 1993, Otomo's 2,000-plus-page science fiction epic Akira was reprinted as a monthly comic book in the U.S. in the early '90s. This new six-volume series is the first time it's appeared as an English-language graphic novel. Set in Tokyo 38 years after its destruction in World War III (which, according to this story, happened in 1992), Akira eventually evolves into a philosophical investigation of time. But this first volume is all action, nonstop car chases and gun fights strung together with exaggerated speed lines and lots of gigantic machinery. The complicated plot revolves around two teenagers in a motorbike gang that encounters a strange child with an old man's features. When one of the young bikers begins manifesting violent, supernatural powers that threaten to destroy him, both bikers find themselves enmeshed in a massive conflict between two sinister agencies (which both believe they're fighting to save the world) over some unnamed thing so terrifying it's locked away in a vault and frozen to absolute zero. Akira has been praised for "massively decompressed storytelling" a few seconds of story time can take pages and Otomo's hyperkinetic black-and-white drawings explode across the page. The translation is sometimes a bit awkward, although it still expresses the story's visceral force. The book has been adapted into an animated film that's a favorite among anime fans.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“One of the most important manga of the 1980s, Akira influenced thousands of science fiction manga and anime with its dark urban future.”—Manga: The Complete Guide
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Young, tough, motorcycle-riding gang ruffians stumble onto a bizarre government experiment in postapocalytic Tokyo in this classic manga series from Katsuhiro Otomo. The government sequesters and essentially holds captive a few hyper-aged children with a variety of bizarre powers, keeping one of them in deep hibernation, lest another apocalypse be unleashed upon the beleaguered populace of Tokyo. Badness ensues when one of the motorcycle-riding ruffians acquires one of the unique powers the government is doing its level best to control, and his powers, of course, eclipse any that have before been observed. Our new super-powered ruffian proceeds to remove Akira, the super-weapon kept in deep hibernation, from his prison, and then a game of grab-Akira-and-run occurs with the government, the ruffian, and antigovernment forces (which, being antigovernment, are of course the good guys). The art in this book is astonishing and all completely hand-drawn, and, my art friends tell me, contains some of the best manga page spreads in existence. I confess that some of the high-action scenes (many of which being double-page spreads) such as motorcycle chases and explosions were difficult for me to "decipher," but they were extraordinary nonetheless. I'd classify this as a pretty standard postapocalyptic story, with your standard government bad guys and antigovernment good guys - but that's where "standard" stops. The "weapons" in this story are people. The character development is remarkable. It's a lot to take in while reading, if you look closely at the art, which is merited. Volumes end with cliffhangers. I will continue with this series for sure. One note: in the English version of this manga, it's printed English style, that is, front-to-back, (or left-to-right) rather than the standard manga which reads back-to-front/right-to-left. It takes some getting used to.
And the leads! Kaneda is a real piece of work. Loudmouthed, violent, and almost nihilistic at times, he's far from a conventional hero. (At one point a girl reveals to him that she's pregnant, with the strong implication he's the father. He blows her off and never gives it another moment's thought.) At the same time, he's committed to his friends, and in a pinch he's the person you most want at your back. And EVERYONE is similarly complex. No-one is purely good, or purely evil. They're just people, pursuing their own agendas in their own ways.
The only thing I regret is that the version widely available for sale isn't the colorized Epic reprints. Normally, colorized stuff is an abomination, but here it's gorgeous. Shame it isn't widely available, but if you didn't know it existed, you wouldn't miss it. Get this.
One of the most epic and amazing set of illustrations ever created. Literally a jaw dropping experience (especially as you get into the later volumes). I actually saw the movie first about 10 years ago and just read the mangas this past year. I've read a lot of comics and graphic novels but as far illustrators go Otomo is at the top of the heap when it comes to action and architecture. The movement and scale you feel with his work is just far above what you see with most comics.
A brilliant piece that will continue to stand the test of time. Just a staggering output from Otomo.
10 stars would be more suitable.
Most recent customer reviews
I was, of course, blown away.Read more