Thursday, April 14, 2011

Manga Review: Akira (volume one)

Being a newer anime fan, I still haven't seen a lot of the classic movies/series and Akira is one of those movies on my "to-watch" list. Clearly this isn't the movie but my school library does have all the volumes and I've seen a few people say they didn't like the movie because they liked the manga so why not at least give this a shot?

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

Summary: In 1992 Tokyo is destroyed by a nuclear weapon and this triggers WWIII causing world-wide destruction. The year is now 2030 and the setting is Neo-Tokyo, built near and upon the ruins of the original Tokyo, a city filled with violence and crime. Kaneda and Tetsuo are members of a biker gang and love nothing more than doing whatever the hell they want but as Tetsuo awakens as an esp-er and Kaneda becomes involved with anti-government rebels their lives are about to get a bit more dangerous.

The Good: The story is fast paced and deftly sets up the stories background without needing much time at all. Half a dozen characters from all the different factions (the gangs, the government, the rebels) are all introduced and, while the motivation for the rebels and what exactly the government wishes to accomplish with it's mysterious "akira" project is unknown, it would have been shocking if the manga did reveal all it's mysteries up front.

The Bad: Perhaps it's because this is a 20/30 year old manga (depending if you date it from the start date or the end date) but so far this manga hasn't done anything new or done anything better than the rest of the cyberpunk genre. There are hot blooded young punks (are these kids seriously only 15?), government conspiracies, people with psychic power, fairly standard fare for cyberpunk these days. Hopefully the story will do something truly amazing with these parts in the later volumes (this volume also felt a lot like it was merely setting up the story, not actually performing the story), there must be a reason for all the hype!

The Art: The movie version of Akira is adored by animation fans worldwide for all the detail in it and the manga has an astonishing amount of detail in it as well. The over-sized volumes let you get a great view of it and appreciate all the details. 

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