Akira Volume 2 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Rating “OT Ages 16+”
Akira was originally published in the Japanese manga magazine, Young Magazine (from December 1982 to June 1990). Created by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira is probably familiar to some because of the animated movie version, which was co-written and directed by Otomo. The manga has been published in English in North America, first by Marvel Comics and then by Dark Horse Comics. Now, Akira is back in print through Kodansha Comics, the American subsidiary of Kodansha, the original Japanese publisher of Akira.
Akira is set in Neo-Tokyo, the new city built upon the ashes of Tokyo. Tokyo was destroyed by a monstrous psychokinetic power known as Akira in a nuclear-like blast that started World War III. 38 years after the blast (2030 A.D.), the lives of two juvenile delinquents and friends Shotaro Kaneda and Tetsuo Shima are changed forever when paranormal abilities begin to awaken in Tetsuo. Tetsuo is snatched by mysterious figures, and Kaneda is plunged into a shadowy world of military and terrorist conspiracies.
As Akira, Vol. 2 opens, Kaneda and Kei, a young woman from the resistance, are prisoners of The Colonel in the secret military complex below Olympic Stadium in the Old City. Kaneda and Kei don’t know that Tetsuo has also fallen into the clutches of the Colonel and is being subjected to a battery of tests regarding his rapidly growing psychic abilities. When Tetsuo learns, for the first time, of the existence of Akira, he decides to awaken him for a confrontation, and all hell breaks loose.
THE LOWDOWN: With his vibrant page design and layouts, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo often presented the action in each panel from a different perspective. This allowed the reader to absorb and to observe the story from multiple viewpoints and angles. This is dynamic storytelling at its best.
The action in this second volume of Akira actually takes place over a span of a few hours, but the non-stop chases and twists and turns, supremely stretched out over 300 pages, seem to take place in the span of a few minutes. This is so good that you can’t stop reading. Reading this is like watching a great action movie trilogy, although few action movies are anywhere near as good Akira is.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for the greatest comics can have Akira.