In the 1980s, strange explosions took out some of the major cities around the globe. Now, in 2032, Neo-Tokyo is a rough place to grow up. Tetsuo and Kaneda are high school students, but they’re also part of a rough biker gang that likes to push the boundaries of where they drive their bikes. In the seedy underbelly of this tough society is a secret government research team with an unknown tie to a project only known by one name: Akira. A young boy escapes from this research team and crosses paths with Kaneda and Tetsuo while they're out joyriding. This chance meeting brings Tetsuo into the crosshairs of the government agents, and has Kaneda searching for his friend - and answers.
As soon as I finished reading this manga, I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. People point to Akira as being so inspirational and launching genres. Someone even compared it to the Japanese version of Watchmen in terms of its influence. However, I’m coming to this well after the series was published, and I’m seeing the fruits of Otomo’s labor. I’m not seeing how ground-breaking it is because the ground has already been well and truly broken by the time I’m getting into manga. It has an interesting story in a post-apocalyptic world that reminds me very much of the video games I'd play on Nintendo that were set in the decimated world of the post-war 1990s. Akira is pretty close to our time frame right now, so it's fun sort of fun to read a story published 30 years ago that thought the "future" was going to be so different.
***One week later*** I sat on this review for a bit because Akira is starting to crawl under my skin. I watched the anime movie, read a little more about the storyline, and I can’t get it out of my mind. Now that I’ve read about it a little bit, I am seeing Akira influences everywhere. This story is full of action, so it will definitely appeal to the fans of action-y, Sci-fi adventures. However, if you (or students) read it and you don’t instantly like it, give it a minute to permeate your brain and really dig in. This one is definitely one of those reads that is a slow burn, and will stick with you for a while.
Akira is pretty violent, has quite a bit of cussing, and has some adult moments. This story would be better suited for older readers.
Sara’s Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 11-12
Publisher: Dark Horse
Publication Date: December 26, 2000
ISBN: 9781569714980 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action Adventure
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