Monday, April 29, 2013

Tetsuuuo! Kanedaaa!

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo:  It should have been like any other night in Neo -Tokyo for Kaneda and his gang but exploring the ruins of old Tokyo leads to an unexpected accident.  His friend Tetsuo gets hurt and disappears but when he comes back, he's different.

Trying to figure out what happened, Kaneda gets mixed up with a girl and a resistance group working to bring down the military.

But one word keeps coming up.  What is Akira and why is everyone so afraid of it?

I watched the film adaptation of Akira when I was 12 and my memories of it along with various reminders from my coworkers and classmates were what drove me to finally pick up the graphic novels.  

My verdict? I love it so far.  I'm only two volumes into the 6 book series but I am hooked. There are so many incredible themes I never picked up on as a kid like the resistance vs. the military, governmental incompetence, and war. Ideas that are not old and still reflect our reality today.  It surprises me just how much a graphic novel from the 80s is still so timely and I think this is what gives Akira staying power in the minds of a lot of readers.

The theme I do remember seeing in the film is the crumbling friendship between Shotaro Kaneda and Tetsuo Shima.  The film made it seem more like a grudging friendship filled with a lot of taunting and you do not really get that in the manga.  In the graphic novel, Kaneda cares for his friend and shows it.  If Kaneda had to choose a favorite in his motorcycle gang, it would be Tetsuo.  It is sad to see how one event can poison their relationship and at the same time change their lives and the world around them.

Something else I did not remember from the film was how much of a punk Kaneda was. So far, I am wondering how this ridiculous and selfish guy is going to save Neo-Tokyo.  It will be interesting to see him grow into a more serious and determined hero, one this story sorely needs.
I would recommend this series for an older teen audience (18 years of age or older) because it does contain graphic violence, mentions of sex and the use of drugs.   I mention these things not to scare readers off but to inform them so that they can make the proper decision for themselves.  We all have subjects and ideas that make us uncomfortable and I do not want anyone picking up this series based on my review and not knowing what lies ahead of them.

That being said I think Akira is a truly unique and interesting manga with panels of artwork that carry a cinematic quality that gives the reader the feeling that they are peering at a pictorial  storyboard. The story is interesting and still relevant 31 years after it was first published and definitely worth a read.

Title source:
Otomo, K. (2001). Akira. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics.

1 comment:

  1. i seriously acquired not any notion this kind of book had to do with psychological ailments, helping to make everyone speculate in the event which was completed intentionally? Simply because without the warning with the composing fashion, I could surely see why it would be frazzling for that readers.