Lots of people who’ve read the Akira manga claim that it’s much more complex than the film, that the story is much bigger and more epic in scope, and that it’s just generally better than the anime.
They’re right. While I don’t like applying the word “better” to comparisons of art, the manga is more than the film in just about every conceivable way.
For this review, I’ll assume you’ve seen the Akira film. You don’t need to have seen it to read this review, but the movie’s such a foundational work within anime fandom that it’s silly for me to assume you haven’t seen it, and it’s very useful to compare the manga to the film.
The first, most important thing to know about Akira is that the manga ran in the young men’s manga magazine Young Magazine from 1982 to 1990, while the film was released in 1988.
The movie only covers the first third of the manga’s plot. The destructive release of Akira (the boy), far from ending the story as it does in the film, propels the manga’s story forward to deal with Tetsuo and Akira building an empire, other characters trying to figure out how to stop them, and the mass of survivors in the middle struggling to live in the wreckage of Neo-Tokyo.
Young Magazine also published the dystopian cyberpunk story Ghost in the Shell, and Akira fits into the same mold. Make no mistake: Akira is primarily a sci-fi action story, filled with chases and explosions. It’s rare for more than 20 pages to pass without at least a tense confrontation, and usually a firefight. Its depth derives from occasional quiet character moments and flashes of kindness or brutality. The manga’s plot does feel more realistic than the film’s; the arrival of the American military makes sense given the apocalyptic events unfolding around Tokyo.
I was most surprised at the much greater subtlety of the characters in the manga. The film suffers from its action genre heritage: there’s no time to develop the characters very deeply when there are so many bike chases and psychic face-offs to animate. Purely because of its much greater length, the relationships in the manga grow and mature over time. For example, by the end of the manga, you understand why Kaneda is so grimly committed to killing Tetsuo, while in the film he’s awfully quick to turn a laser gun on his former gang mate.
The characters in the manga also differ significantly from their anime incarnations. The manga Kaneda is more of a goofball who’s in way over his head. Kei is a determined young woman with strong reasons for her decisions. The Colonel is a Terminator, relentless in his pursuit of Tetsuo and Akira to rectify the mistakes the Colonel made in the past. The esper children feel like a community of very special people.
More importantly, the characters actually have something to do in the manga. The film leaps from set piece to set piece and crisis to crisis so quickly that the characters spend the vast majority of their time reacting. In the manga, characters plan and talk. They get at least a few minutes to think.
This also provides Otomo with more space to establish a basic moral framework. The film feels like random people reacting to random events, and in which almost everyone dies anyway. The manga shows us moments of desire and struggle. A delaying tactic here actually allows innocent people to escape death. One person’s determination pays off in the end.
Akira‘s dialogue always shone at differentiating characters, and Otomo is just as adept in the manga. Kaneda and Tetsuo’s speeches are filled with off-hand swearing, the Colonel speaks with military precision, and Kei maintains an ordinary street patter.
Otomo uses panels with a deftness and confidence that frankly blew me away. I normally avoid using terms like “the author showed confidence in this act,” as it’s such a vague and un-verifiable phrase, but it expresses my impression perfectly. When the situation calls for a bold layout, Otomo creates one. Otherwise, he uses layouts judiciously, sequencing panels with just the right rhythm for each scene. This is critical for an action story, as there’s so much information to parse about character positioning and intent.
Otomo intensifies the action with an almost obsessive amount of detail. You will rarely find a panel that lacks a completely realized background. While the character designs are about as detailed as that of any other manga work, all those backgrounds add a level of weight and realism that firmly grounds the characters in a real world with real consequences. This is not a fantasy series where characters are routinely thrown dozens of feet, then stand up with barely a cough (well, except for Tetsuo and Akira). When buildings crumble, people die. Everyone here (well, again, except for Tetsuo and Akira) is extremely mortal.
As such, Akira feels real in a way that most other manga does not. This is not a criticism of other manga, but I think it explains why Akira attracted such a large following in the West. The average Westerner will struggle far more with the fluid realities of Please Save My Earth, Phoenix, or Rurouni Kenshin. Many works of manga aren’t even trying to feel real in this way.
As with so many works, I can’t recommend Akira to everyone. It’s a dark, bloody story in which a lot of bad things happen. But its story ultimately centers on survival and a struggle to do the right thing, even if it’s not always rewarded. And that’s a story I’ll get behind. With a laser gun.
This page lists all active anime crowdfunding projects, that I know of. This list is limited to projects involving Japanese creators, and was last updated on 13 June 2013. All prices are in U.S. dollars ($) or Japanese yen (¥).
|24 Hour TV Specials
||Various TV specials, bundled together||(Various)||Anime Sols||$1,630||$18,000||22 July 2013|
|ABC of Akari
||Staff: AnigoAnimation||SF, action||Anipipo||¥51,000||¥3,660,000||22 July 2013|
|Black Jack TV set 1
||Creator: Osamu Tezuka
Staff: Tezuka Productions
|Drama||Anime Sols||$3,520||$22,000||22 July 2013|
|Blue Blink [Aoi Blink] set 1
||Creator: Osamu Tezuka
Staff: Tezuka Productions
|Children||Anime Sols||$1,305||$16,000||22 July 2013|
|Creamy Mami set 1
||Staff: Studio Pierrot
|Magical girl||Anime Sols||$6,115||$19,000||22 July 2013|
|New Yatterman set 1
|SF, action||Anime Sols||$1,450||$19,000||22 July 2013|
||Children||Anipipo||¥11,500||¥250,000||22 June 2013|
||Creator: Kenji Itoso||Comedy||Anipipo||¥534,001||¥1,000,000||22 July 2013|
|Tekkaman set 1
|SF, action||Anime Sols||$1,275||$16,000||22 July 2013|
|Time of EVE (movie)
||Creator: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Staff: Studio Rikka
|SF, drama||Kickstarter||$132,152||$18,000||22 June 2013|
|Tobikage set 1
|SF, action, mecha||Anime Sols||$1,890||$19,500||22 July 2013|
Have an update to this list? Email me.
||Masaaki Yuasa/Production I.G.||Action||Kickstarter||$201,164||$150,000||31 October 2012|
Time of Eve [EVE no Jikan] was a 6-episode
The studio then released that on DVD/
“We thought the iTunes Store release of the movie would suffice…But, we keep getting requests from fans around the world asking for the movie on
So they’ve launched a Kickstarter. Back it at the US$55 level, and you get the
Here’s the impressive thing: they’ve raised $13,000 in one day.
This is a perfect case for soliciting money from anime fans: Time of Eve has a small, dedicated fanbase of thoughtful fans. These are the people willing to spend money, not 14-
More like this, please.
This is a manga about the appreciation of manga. That should explain the extent of its potential appeal.
While readers from other cultures can certainly grasp the concept, Kingyo Used Books relies on the uniquely Japanese experience of growing up surrounded by manga. In America, many kids read comics, but they generally aren’t exposed to the breadth of subject matter available to kids in Japan.
This first volume of Kingyo tells several disconnected short stories about people reconnecting with their childhood love of manga. This works because each person has a favorite manga in a particular genre. A sports manga series will teach different lessons than a shoujo story.
Kingyo Used Books centers on a manga bookstore (of the same name as the title) that also hides a secret that is appropriately improbable: beneath the store lies a massive manga library. Kingyo Used Books‘ employees all love manga and, just like the titular character in Bartender recommending drinks that resolve customers’ problems, they recommend manga titles to customers that suffer from emotional crises.
On the one hand, the overall thrust of the manga feels pretty heavy-handed at times: manga is wonderful, and can help you solve life’s problems! On the other hand, manga could use the defense in a world that sees comics as temporary, disposable pop culture.
The art is clean and easy to parse, avoiding lots of close-ups or odd viewing angles. There are enough backgrounds to ground you in a location, but long dialogue scenes omit backgrounds where they’re unnecessary (avoiding the strong sense of reality in, say, Akira or Ghost in the Shell).
Those looking for a complex, long-form narrative or incredibly complex characters should look elsewhere. Kingyo uses manga as a crystal to reflect a rainbow of stories and emotions evoked by an idiosyncratic medium.
Kingyo Used Books volumes 1–4 are currently in stock at U.S. retailers like Amazon and RightStuf.
A guilty pleasure is defined in this thread as ”a particular series, [even though you know] it´s considered bad or sub-par by the vast majority of the community.” That’s a helpful starting point.
This starts with my mystification with terms like “bad” and ”good” when they’re applied to a work of art. The larger artistic world has long since abandoned those terms as subjective at best and meaningless at worst. Who decides what’s “good?” The community? The community’s been wrong before.
“Sub-par” means that most people think that the work is unworthy of the effort. It’s below expectations. Well, many great works of art have been under-appreciated by most people at different times. Citizen Kane languished in relative obscurity for years.
Why don’t we just take pleasure in anime? Whatever it is, we can enjoy it. We can enjoy it for what it is. We should certainly be aware of how much time we’re spending on anime, and seek balance. But if you’re going to watch anime, watch it with joy.
This is an in-depth look at the packaging of U.S. anime DVD and Blu-Ray releases. This episode covers:
- The Secret World of Arrietty (a.k.a. The Borrower Arrietty) released by Disney/Buena Vista
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 released by Maiden Japan
- Digimon season 02 released by Flatiron Film Company
This week: chocolate chip peanut cookies. Take the classic Toll House chocolate chip recipe, and add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 2/3 cup peanuts.
Here’s what they look like:
And here’s the video:
The latest anime and manga news, courtesy of http://www.animenewsnetwork.com and Secret Weapon Vincent.
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