At the far too early age of seven I watched Katsuhiro Otomo's film Akira. In a time before the internet, my parents had made the mistake of thinking that since it was a cartoon it couldn't be that bad. If you've seen the movie you know just how wrong my parents were. If you haven't, what followed was two hours of high-octane animated violence, drugs, and mind-bending psychokinesis. Being too young to really appreciate what many critics believe to be one of the greatest animated movies of all time, which helped bring Japanese anime into American culture, I retreated to the warm comfort of Disney. Thankfully as I got older I rediscovered this great movie, and this even better comic series.
This isn't me just saying "Well, I read the book which is far better than the movie." (Imagine me saying that with a snooty condescending accent). The movie barely skims the surface of the comics. It would be like if HBO took all the Game of Thrones books and turned them into a single two-hour special.
Spanning over 2000 pages the Akira series is a sci-fi epic. The story follows a teenage delinquent as he unknowingly gets caught up in psychic warfare that leads to an all-out revolution. Like the amphetamine that the main characters eat like candy, you'll get addicted to this book – also, you might lose your teeth, but that could be unrelated.
Dark Horse did an exquisite job reprinting the comics into six volumes (although I did notice a typo in Volume 2 on page 228, so someone might want to contact Dark Horse about that). Each book starts with some beautifully colored pages, and then transitions into amazingly detailed black and white illustrations. If you liked the movie, like comics, or just like impractical yet totally cool future-bikes, read Akira.
Bonus: If you like the Akira series check out Domu: A Child's Dream. It's much shorter but still very enjoyable. It feels very much like a precursor, a Hobbit to Lord of the Rings (Okay, I think I just reached my nerd-reference quota for this review).
– JP LeRoux
Akira Vol. 6
by Katsuhiro Otomo (author) and Satoshi Kon (illustrator)
Dark Horse Manga
2002, 440 pages, 7.4 x 9.9 x 1.5 inches (softback)
$5 Akira Vol. 5
$5 Akira Vol. 4
$14 Akira Vol. 3
$2 Akira Vol. 2
$17 Akira Vol. 1