AKIRA: the Entire 2,000 Page Epic -- Review

Topic started by No_name_here on Oct. 28, 2013. Last post by No_name_here 11 months, 3 weeks ago.
Post by No_name_here (856 posts) See mini bio Level 11
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In honor of the new AKIRA home video edition FUNimation is releasing to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary, please enjoy these long-form reviews I wrote a while back. I took on the ambitious task of covering all six volumes of Katsuhiro Otomo's 2,000 page epic, and the experience was unforgettable...

VOLUME ONE ::

When you’re finally getting around to checking out some seminal works in this particular circle, you quickly realize that few, if any, of them are more seminal than AKIRA. The live-action Hollywood remake may never actually get off the runway, but AKIRA's popularity is so enduring that even the slightest details of its casting sheets are consistently guaranteed to invite volatile talkbacks and high hit counts on this site. That’s impressive, sustained interest for a story that ran its course twenty years ago with no subsequent follow-ups.

We’re not talking about an title that's captured the popular imagination here so much as locked it up and chained it down in some concrete underground vault.

So, yeah… of course I’ve seen the movie! I watched it early enough that I wasn't actually old enough to get what the big deal was on the first go-round. Surely, there had to be more to this rather straightforward story of biker gangs and wrinkly kids? Not until I was older did I see the brilliance of that simplicity; the directness that grabs straight for the throat like a primal rock song.

You all know the score. Teen bikers in post-cataclysmic “Neo Tokyo,” led by red jump-suited Kaneda, run into some mysterious runaway with fearsome psychokinetic abilities on the highway. The encounter leaves Kaneda’s put-upon toadie, Tetsuo, in intensive care and he subsequently develops powers that are greater - - and far more destructive - - than the prematurely-aged mutant child he collided with. The government gets involved in these kids’ business, as is its wont, and Kaneda falls in with Kei, a dissident who might know enough about the conspiracy behind all this to help put the increasingly megalomaniacal and powerful Tetsuo down.

Whiskey’s video virtuoso, Joey Fameli, has consistently asserted that AKIRA the anime’s a messy oversimplification of the vastly superior and complex AKIRA the manga. I didn’t want to believe him, at first, but after reading this book, I’m starting to see things his way. Perhaps I’m breaking through yet another level of enlightenment, here.

Let’s not get bogged down in some point-for-point comparison. We’ll keep it to the broad strokes.

As should be expected, the Capsules are realer juvenile delinquents in the book. These aren’t rebels without a cause who get into rumbles sometimes; these are rude, pill-popping kids with nearly no filter between what they want and what they do. Kaneda’s now exactly the smartass punk he'd actually be like - - five counts irritating for every count of charm - - and the fact that his furtive partnership with Kei consists mostly of him trying to feel her up is right on the money. It also tickles my black heart that young demigod Tetsuo’s master plan after seizing control of the Clowns is simply to force them to fetch him an endless supply of downers. That's how big he can think.

It’s a little more complicated to break down the differences in pacing and plotting, though. This volume’s a hefty 360 pages, but it only takes us into maybe the first 20 minutes of the flick. Interestingly, it's not a question of details so much as focuses. This uses time/space that's taken up with scenes "humanizing" Tetsuo and Kaneda in the movie and puts it on more frenetic chases, more gangland politics and more conspiratorial intrigue. I put "humanizing" in quotations because the kids are actually better defined as characters through inferences in bold and succinct choices of dialog and behavior here than they are by the handful of humanizing, sympathy-point-grabbing scenes in the movie.

Kaneda's more of a dick and Tetsuo's more of a weirdo - - and they're both more interesting for it.

BLADE RUNNER was AKIRA’s go-to pop culture comparator for a long time but, aside from the general notion of nasty violence in an urban megalopolis, there aren’t many links in this to that flick; nor the trippy, counter-cultural novel it’s based on. Instead, the vibes feel more like those radiating off of Frank Miller’s comics like RONIN, GIVE ME LIBERTY and portions of ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I’d imagine that Miller and Katsuhiro Otomo’s mutual appreciation for LONE WOLF & CUB probably has a lot to do with that.

Say all that’s already been said about “decompression” - - it’s the leanness of narrative that’s really more to the point in this discussion. AKIRA thrusts the reader into a dystopia where few signposts are left standing and pieces of answers come up only when the situation requires.

For all the hot air you hear about “entry level characters” and the various pleasantries leads must to perform for the audience to care about them, material like this is so much more arresting for how it blows that bullshit off. It makes the reader a tag-along, essentially, who must take the characters and plot in on a rawer, more instinctual level - - fight or flight. Draw your own conclusions. Scenarios come at you like the throngs of villainous foot soldiers who appear throughout without introduction and give you just a couple, breathless seconds to size them up and figure out how to deal. In these respects, HALF-LIFE 2 is another worthwhile point of comparison.

VOLUME TWO ::

What’s funny about reading AKIRA, now, is that it offers plenty of perspective on other, familiar parts of pop culture that either happened around its time or occurred, down the line, as a result of it. See, if “decompression” were a measurable property, the needles would be spiking furiously over this particular volume. 300 pages are lavished on plot that essentially breaks down like this…

  1. Tetsuo grows bored in government custody.
  2. Tetsuo gets fixated on finding this mysterious “Akira.”
  3. Tetsuo forces the Colonel and the kids to tell him where Akira is.
  4. Tetsuo rampages to the Olympic stadium.
  5. Tetsuo digs Akira up and heads to surface.
  6. Tetsuo gets maimed by an orbital laser canon.

Basically. And with most of these beats, of course, involving the kid’s seemingly-limitless telekinetic abilities.

An omnibus or a digest (or whatever the proper name is for this collection) isn’t just the ideal format to experience this in - - it might be the essential one. It would be just maddening to get this same content in smaller increments of about, say, 22 pages. Each one would leave you feeling sorely gipped; and I’m speaking from experience.

Actually, let’s back up a little.

“Decompression” might not be a common term in the parlance of manga, but it became a fixture of even casual American comics discussions after Warren Ellis notably described his highly-popular run on THE AUTHORITY as such in the late 90’s. The title was a snarky, modern and very cinematic update of the superhero, with Ellis giving the artist,Bryan Hitch, plenty of space to tell the story with big blockbuster action sequences unencumbered by nonessential dialog, captions or, really, any text at all at times. The style became all the rage for years, with many creators aping the surface elements without the necessary understanding of how or why it worked. It led to a whole mess of poorly-paced comics where nearly nothing happened in a given issue.

Seeing this, it’s clear that AKIRA trickled down into THE AUTHORITY, continuing a circle of influence that spun previously when Otomo took inspiration from Western movies (as his bio in this book says.) It’s doubtful that Otomo was that quick to adapt his ideas to what was playing in theaters at the time, of course, so there really must been something specific swirling in the visual science fiction zeitgeist of the 80’s. I actually just went on about this subject, at length, over at Screened. By my reckoning, a very precise style of mean sci-fi action movies ruled that decade and AKIRA the anime definitely fits into its umbrella.

Hell, wouldn't you know it? AKIRA the comic embodies that wave's qualities even more so. Dare I say, there's such a sense of authority to its storytelling because its world feels so concrete and its tech looks so real. Take the industrial platform that carries Tetsuo down to the underground bunker - - the amount of R&D and “imagineering” Otomo (or his uncredited assistants) must’ve committed to it before drawing a single panel is kind-of staggering. It ain't the window dressing you normally see in science fiction.

The comic's got the sub-genre’s hard-mindedness, too. Oh yes. As callous as it might sound, it’s actually refreshing that Kaneda so quickly accepts that he’s got to use whatever means available to put his former pal down (the cool laser rifle being the most handy.) He’s presented as this rough 'n tumble delinquent, after all; you really wouldn’t expect it’d take more than one nearly-fatal case of his friend trying to crush him with heavy machinery for him to realize this is a “him or me” situation.

Actually, while on the subject of dangerous Master Tetsuo, it’s hard not to read some metaphors into his rampage, specifically those pertaining to Japan's post-war youth culture. C'mon, these punks come of age after another, city-leveling explosion that a fellow kid's awakening caused it! There's something brewing under the fact that Tetsuo's teenage rebellion manifests in frightening powers that allow him to blow adults' heads up and force authority figures to grovel. That, or it could just the coincidentally-evocative byproducts of Otomo's straightforward “blow some shit up” impulse.

For a review that began with a discussion of decompression, it's probably appropriate that I've again run out of space with plenty of points left to spare. I felt like I ought to halt the non-stop stream of effusive praise a little and note that the comics' signature minimalism probably cuts both ways. That is, we're close to 800 pages in without much understanding of who these characters are.

But hey - - who gives a shit?

I honestly don't need to know if Kaneda's got a worried kid sister waiting at home for him, nor what Tetsuo's relationship with his Mom is like, to get invested here.

There's a lot of manga that don't resonate with me because they share so much visual vocabulary with anime (and their own adaptations, specifically) that reading them is like flipping through a digest-sized storyboard. They feel like preparatory documents, not works to their own end. Even though this is incredibly cinematic, it takes advantages of the silent tension between word and image as only comics can. It's the highly-compressed movie that's starting to look like the preparatory material, now.

VOLUME THREE ::

There’s probably no clearer indicator that an adaptation’s “loose” than when it actually goes ahead and reduces the title character to a brain in a jar. To be fair, there is something solidly creepy and evocative about having the omnipotent entity that everybody’s so afraid in the movie turn out to be nothing more than a vivisected cadaver. However, there’s also something just as rich, conceptually, in having that entity be a sleepy little tyke who’s being carried around in a nappy, doped-up state that’s only just barely keeping him from his massively destructive awakening.

We'll leave our choice of which is better for after we’re done with volume six.

As it stands, volume 3 makes up for the slowed story advancement in volume 2 by packing in two or three times as much plot. An almost dizzying amount, actually. Important lil’ Akira more-or-less becomes the object of a frenzied game of capture the flag being played by the rebels, the government and the various splinter factions between them. A crisscross of allegiances quickly hustles into complexities that were only just barely hinted at in the anime and “spy thriller” is unexpectedly appended on to the list of descriptors that apply to this story.

With three more mutant kids, a burly machinegun lady and a double-agent or two added to the fray, it did honestly get a little tough to keep track of who was friendly with whom and whose possession Akira was in at any given moment. I get the sense that was intentional, though - - a choice to convey the frantic confusion of all the involved players.

The shadow of impending annihilation hangs over every single panel in this book, making all the hurried antics feel like an especially fleet-footed and trigger-happy play on the “bargaining” portion of the five stage of grief. The Colonel really has the right idea during his spells of despondency at the beginning - - the demon’s out of the bottle, nobody can put it back in and, now, it’s only a matter of delaying the inevitable.

The movie only briefly touched on the element of holy terror inherent to the return of this moppet antichrist. It does fit that the same pipeline of creative license that turned Akira into a biology specimen likewise turned Lady Miyako into little more than the quirky prop of a single, mood-setting scene. Of the characters who have more prominent role in this comic, she’s proven to be the most intriguing for how her little secret society conflates this top-secret government project with the realization of some mystical prophecy. By the time the throngs of desperate survivors are fleeing to her temple, en masse, it’s clear that these kids’ ascension of power carries more significance than just another case of science run amuck.

Actually, that probably should have been clear from the first painted page. My favorite scene in the anime was the whole sequence where a beam of light shoots down from the sky and blows off Tetsuo’s arm. After he shrieks his heart out, Tetsuo flies right up into orbit and gets some up-close-and-personal payback on the satellite that just took so much from him. Expressions of raw and godly power hardly ever come as visceral as that. The scene isn’t included in this volume, but it the laser maiming is, and the way its rendered seems like something more of mythology than science fiction. Without context, it looks like the heavens themselves are hurling stars down onto this arrogant demigod as punishment for his hubris.

AKIRA doesn't seem likely to explore these Promethean themes much deeper within it minimalistic story, and that's actually preferable. One too many riffs on FRANKENSTEIN have made that particular theme a little too familiar to be exciting for me. It’s to the credit of this seemingly-brash piece of non-stop action that it's able to evoke such themes through stark imagery and scenarios and let the readers infer a lot of the meaning instead of delving too deep into the philosophical gobbledygook.

Coming at this from the “backwards perspective” of somebody who started with the anime, I put down this volume with about the same curious and tentative feeling I had while walking out of the last EVANGELION rebuild.

30-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT - - this ends with a telekinetic explosion reducing Neo Tokyo to rubble.

You’ll recall that that’s what happens at the end of the anime’s Apocalyptic finale; and then you might realize how tough it is to reconcile that with how this volume's still just the halfway point of this comic. Where could they possibly go from here? The batch of silent pages at the end chilling sets up some sort of confrontation between Tetsuo and Akira, but what shape could that take? This isn’t DBZ; they can’t honestly be brawling in the wreckage for the next 900 odd pages, can they?

VOLUME FOUR ::

Obviously, it's easier to watch something than to read something. Most times, print’s got the edge for being able to push an idea as far it’ll go. Especially with serialized stories, it’s the latter volumes in a series - - the ones that have stepped far past the confines of their initial premises - - that more often contain the material that inspires enthusiastic commentary such as this. Movies, though? So often, outside concerns (be they budgetary, proprietary or simply centered on running times) will keep their concepts within familiar parameters.

You know what I’m talking about. The avenger renounces his ways as soon as he’s gotten his revenge. The hero’s transformation plateaus once he’s defeated the bad guy. The science fiction’s parable ties up after it’s made its one allegorical point. Movies are all about clean structures and meeting expectations. They celebrate in it.

I hate to make these reviews an ongoing comparison piece, but it’s really unavoidable since AKIRA the manga has so totally eclipsed AKIRA the anime in my eyes, now. Reading it has proven to be an enthralling reminder of how, indeed, the book’s more often better than the movie; and not least of which for how it’ll take ideas farther. To be precise, it’s the theme of teenage rebellion that's been brought to a realm only fantasies like this have the vision to see.

Picking up at an indeterminate time after Akira’s latest city-leveling outburst, this volume drops us into the anarchic maelstrom of metal and concrete that Neo Tokyo’s become. Survivors straggle in every dry and film spot, but those wanting real protection flock to the new opposing poles of power - - the cults of Lord Akira and Lady Miyako. Kaneda’s been seemingly wiped out of existence, and Kei and the scene-stealing brawler Chiyoko (who’d have figured RPGs were such good bludgeons?) are just trying to survive without any plan to direct them.

Hearsay abounds about how the rest of Japan and the world entire are responding to this catastrophe, and there might even be a few agents of those outside powers sneaking around the wreckage. Frenzied skirmishes happen on every corner. Lootings abound. This sprawling megalopolis has essentially been mutated into a much larger and more terrifying vision of PINOCCHIO’s Pleasure Island. And it’s here where the comic really does the aforementioned pushing of ideas.

Look at this way: the familiar story of the teen rebel’s all about the gap between a kid’s grasp and his reach, right? If only he could live the way he wanted to - - not the way his folks, his teachers, the police and society at large forces him to - - then there wouldn’t be any need for all this conflict. Usually, the story ends with the punk getting taken down in one way or another (falling into that gap, as it were.) Give that kid the power to live the way he wants, though; to make others to live according to his feverish visions. What would happen next? What would it mean?

This part of the AKIRA saga’s illustrating what teen angst and child’s play look like when let loose; not just on some small and secluded jungle island or some faraway Never, Never Land, but on the world entire. It’s gone so far past being just a kickass cyberpunk thriller. AKIRA is youth-themed literature on the level of classics like PETER PAN and LORD OF THE FLIES; a story whose deceptively-simple psychological and philosophical layers can be picked apart for decades (as we’re demonstrating, right here.)

Tetsuo’s continued transformation into something like a personified Id invites so much analysis on is own. I'm especially intrigued by how his drug habit's been agitated into a perverted sort of communion - - one that keeps him from his fullest potential even as it grants his followers spectacular and frightening abilities. The capsules were throwaway gags in the movie, and the mind powers were also limited to explode-y telekinesis. Here, the gamut of psychic abilities, from teleportation to possession to extra-sensory perception, is explored in a fashion that makes "science fiction" feel like an insufficient descriptor.

Indeed, those mind powers gets my mind to thinking that there must have been some powerful currents flowing in comics' collective unconsciousness during the 80's. I never expected this series to evoke WATCHMEN, as well (another complex comic sullied by a hamfisted adaptation,) but the visual metaphors that manifest in this volume - - the birth canal sigil, the rocks Akira plays with that foreshadow the skyscrapers Tetsuo throws about later - - are just as powerful and hypnotic as the myriad in that deconstructionist classic.

The two works are really in a class that makes one balk, trying to imagine the creative process behind them. I'm certain I'll re-reading AKIRA just as many times after I'm done in hopes of understanding its complexities more fully.

VOLUME FIVE ::

There was an exchange in the previous volume that warranted more comment. Taking a Gordian knot approach to existential curiosity, Tetsuo teleported straight into Lady Miyako’s temple like a middle-schooler going to his guidance counselor’s office with a bunch of questions in his pocket. While the cult matriarch used the series’ lengthiest monolog to explicate all details regarding the secret government experiment that produced her and the other wrinkly espers, she hadn’t the clearest terms to describe Lord Akira.

Tetsuo was still confused, so he repeated a question.

“I WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING CONCRETE!! WHAT THE HELL IS AKIRA?!?!”

Note the emphasis. On this point, the seemingly all-knowing Miyako fell back on a highfalutin explanation for how she really couldn’t explain this little demigod’s existence. Why, out of 41 test subjects, was he the one to possess this unfathomable power? She couldn’t say. The reason was simply so far beyond anybody’s ken that one could only understand Akira as a natural force existing outside the parameters of reality.

Their dialog came to mind while flipping through this volume’s stand-out showpiece - - the awesome sight of Tetsuo blasting a big ass crater out of the damn moon - - because it articulates why AKIRA’s superorbital leaps of imagination don’t feel like simply the usual goods a science fiction spectacle’s expected to deliver. There’s a visceral sublimity to them; a hyper-extension of the credible tech discussed in earlier volumes which makes these impossible acts feel as close to actual happenings as ink, tones and paper can convey. Just as Akira is a threat from outside reality, so too does this comic feel like it’s seizing powerful elemental currents flowing far beyond the sight of the familiar, affectedly-structured actioner.

In simpler terms, AKIRA achieves that all too rare level of storytelling craft where larger-than-life events feel like they’re unfolding simply as they would happen.

Even the romances hit on a more direct and immediate level. Described outside the story, Tetsuo’s relationship withKaori is undeniably horrific. Yet, there’s still no denying the tenderness exuded in their tacit scenes together. Here’s this massively destructive entity who’s almost totally eroded any barriers with his Id, but he’s still helplessly dependent on the simple presence of his ever-so-meek companion. There’s something very conceptually profound in even just that simple idea.

There’s rawness and realness to Kaneda’s inelegant courtship of Kei, as well. Penultimate acts like this are so often predicated on the hero making a conscious choice to put himself back in danger in order to save his loved one, but few have ever been driven by such willful defiance. Kaneda’s instinctual decision to round up a posse to kill Tetsuo so Kei doesn’t have to carry out the espers’ sacrificial plan is just such a primal act of youthful willfulness - - an ultimate expression to match Tetsuo’s ultimate teenage angst. He isn’t just unafraid of death and he won’t just do anything to protect his girl; he’s cocky enough to pick a fight with what’s essentially a force of nature.

Which brings us to one of the most rousing, devil-may-care climaxes ever rendered - - the rallying of the malcontents. That is, Kaneda rounding up what’s left of the biker gangs and assorted punks who don’t know any better for a roughhouse sort of Armageddon at the stadium.

AKIRA the manga has a whole pile of chips in its favor against AKIRA the anime, but certainly the most fun one concerns Joker’s vastly expanded role. If you’re riding full-throttle straight into the end of the world, you can’t ask for a better ally in your corner than an asshole grease monkey who stays stingy to the bitter end. So much post-Apocalyptic fiction makes such a somber hoodoo out of man’s pettiness enduring, or even exacerbating, after a catastrophe. Here, there’s something endearingly unapologetic about how this knucklehead's still getting pissed about whether Kaneda will pay him back for a bike, even while reality’s crumbling around all of them.

Amusingly enough, this volume starts with one of the series’ few signs of datedness: that the intellectual consortium assembled on an off-shore aircraft carrier to brainstorm how to handle the “Akira problem” has a Soviet contingent. There's a chuckle or two to be had about how the USSR’s isn’t likely to return in the 2030’s, but the moment actually then draws attention to how this material’s otherwise so timelessly sharp.

Fans so often describe a comic like this as if it's in some unfinished state - - if only it were in color! Just wait 'til it's animated! Close to 1600 pages in, I see that black and white paper's the perfect realization of this story. Nothing else would be as visceral and immediate. Nothing else would infuse this imagery with the silent spookiness only half-tones can convey. Nothing else would be as elemental and timeless.

Once again, whatever “pre-awareness” I have from the flick feels woefully inadequate to prepare me for what’s coming next. We may be in store for the most Earth-shaking dust-up ever. We may see Master Tetsuo pitted against Lord Akira like a cyclone against a typhoon; like furies of myth colliding. Like Miyako said in so many words during her earlier dialog, the impending forces feel like they're beyond my reckoning.

VOLUME SIX ::

Ah, the frustrating final installment. How you so cruelly confound expectations. How you court anxious hopes that you’ll deliver on what you’ve promised in the rapidly-shrinking remainder of your plot. How you always return to remind us to never get ahead of ourselves when praising a series.

The last time I ran into this particular breed of finale was in Stephen King’s DARK TOWER. Decades in the making, it actually gave you the option to stop reading at a certain point and accept an optimistic, open-ended scene as the saga’s closer. Then it gave you the choice to continue on to a conclusion that was more-or-less designed to be unsatisfying; warning you all the while that it wasn’t the answer you wanted.

Part of me wants to pretend AKIRA had similar options. I'd really rather this epic be capped off at the end of the last volume when Kaneda and his gang were charging off to kill Tetsuo. Maybe they were racing to their psychokinetic dooms at the Olympic Stadium. Maybe they were just about to put this demigod down in a hail of brutal laser fire. What happens after the moment isn’t crucial; all that matters is that the frenzied dash is a perfect zenith to the series’ themes of violent, youthful recklessness.

Volume Six sort-of, kind-of shows the confrontation it seemed built up for. Kaneda’s gang has a firefight with the New Tokyo Empire that lasts for all of a couple pages. However, the whole plan to take Tetsuo out so Kei doesn’t have to fight him is foiled without comment when the gal arrives to basically just torpedo through his colossal fetus form. And Lady Miyako’s stated plan to pit Tetsuo against Akira is forgotten for no better reason than her presumable senility.

Big chunks of this book are instead preoccupied with revisiting beats previous volumes were already devoted to. There’s a long descent down into Akira’s subterranean tomb just like Volume 2 was centered on, Tetsuo re-lives all the painful moments of his life just like he did for a big portion of Volume 4, he throws powerful fury down onto the off-shore aircraft carrier more-or-less like he did in Volume 5 and there’s a frantic hot potato game of allegiances and motivations much like the one Volume 3 was defined by.

As vexing as it is to see Neo Tokyo blown up yet again (how much rubble is even left to obliterate?) it’s that last re-visitation that’s the most frustrating. It fit for all the scurrying players of Volume 3 to be trading important little Lord Akira back and forth without much sense of what to do with him. They were stupid kids and mere mortals. Lady Miyako, however, has been presented as an all-knowing sorceress. When she keeps changing her mind about whether the highest priority is to destroy, protect or befriend Akira, it feels more like Otomo’s making this part up on the fly and he forgot the point he wanted to make before he ran out of pages.

And perhaps that’s actually what happened. Otomo’s said somewhere that he feels neither the ending to AKIRA the anime nor AKIRA the manga are adequate and, as much I hate to say it, that does seem to be the case. This isn’t an ambiguous ending so much as a close-out filibuster using smoke and mirrors to seem like an ambiguous ending. It’s like a middle school essay that summarizes every paragraph at the bottom of the page in the hopes that it'll pass for a conclusion statement.

The feelings are still raw about this one. They were raw about THE DARK TOWER right after I was done reading it, too. I see both series as works of literature that transcend their genres and, a lot of times, what comes with that is an ending you can’t grade as simply as you would for regular entries in the genre. It’s not just a matter of whether “It sucked!” or “It rocked!” Your sense of it changes after some thought and analysis (like this!).

See, the coda scene where Kaneda’s gang assumes control of Neo Tokyo’s ruins and slams the door on foreign aid out is actually a superbly fitting final note. Again, there’s no better way to tie off a story of teenage rebellion writ large than to basically show an island-sized middle finger being waved to the world. However, it still feels like a very bold and sharply-rendered exclamation point plopped right after a block of muddied chicken scratch.

I don't want to wrap this batch of retro review so ambivalently. Reading AKIRA has been such a profound experience. One that put me right back in touch with how thrilling and mesmerizing this medium can be. Whether my opinion on this volume changes with time or not, I still want to agree with its boast of being one of the greatest works of graphic narrative ever. However, when I think back on the murky and repetitive mumbo jumbo that takes up so many pages here, I can’t help but feel like that aforementioned middle finger’s partly aimed at the reader.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
Post by Kino88 (222 posts) See mini bio Level 6

your writing is truly remarkable Tom, I loved reading these reviews.

In fact I read each volume around same time these were being posted, and I could not agree more it was indeed an unforgettable epic.

AKIRA LIVES!

Post by Donwun (123 posts) See mini bio Level 12

Really good write-up Tom

After years...sorry DECADES of loving the movie i only read these manga volumes earlier this year and it was a fantastic read that completely met my expectations. Highly recommended for any fan of the movie.

Saying that, you'd be surprised to hear ALOT of people do not even know this manga series exists...I can't say its been as widely exposed as the movie......wonder why that is?

Post by sickVisionz (4,307 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

I liked the movie but thought it was just ok. I'd love to see them animate it as a series though.

Post by zaldar (1,288 posts) See mini bio Level 15

I really need to buy and read the rest of these...as well I would love to see you do a review like this for the watchman series. It would be interesting to see your take on it. After seeing the movie and reading the visual novel I thought the movie did a better job of conveying the novel they the Akira movie did the bits of the Manga I read (the watchman movie at least made sense...)

Post by No_name_here (856 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff

@Kino88 said:

your writing is truly remarkable Tom, I loved reading these reviews.

Thanky thanky...

@Donwun said:

Saying that, you'd be surprised to hear ALOT of people do not even know this manga series exists...I can't say its been as widely exposed as the movie......wonder why that is?

Well, like I said... it's a lot easier to just watch 90 minute movie than it is to read a 2,000 page manga.

@sickVisionz said:

I liked the movie but thought it was just ok. I'd love to see them animate it as a series though.

Agreed. My answer to a question about "dream remakes" on the Vice Pit was a BROTHERHOOD take on AKIRA - - a longer-form series adhering more closely to the manga.

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