Writer(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Illustrator(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics.
Release Date: June 22nd 2010 (first published in 1985).
Genre(s): Manga, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Previously on Akira:
Akira (Vol. 1)
The post-apocalyptic world of Akira is one that has allowed Katsuhiro Otomo to revolutionize the manga and anime industry with his visionary and artistic style. With six volumes that have been loved and praised by many, the story remains iconic no matter its flaws and, without a doubt, holds plenty of reread value. As my adventure in this universe continues in its manga form before tackling the masterpiece that is the anime movie, my mind resolves to interrogate the direction it is all taking and the goal of this story that this mangaka wishes to offer his readers. Although it is science-fiction, a lot of its subplots are heavy in mystery and the themes remain fuzzy in the bigger scheme of things. Does the second volume have what it needs to propel this series in the right direction or will we still be submerged with more questions than answers as the hunt for Akira develops in this volume?
Akira (Vol. 2) pursues the story where it was left off in the first volume with the mystery behind Akira remaining the center of attention. Set in the 21st century, Neo-Tokyo is born from the ashes caused by the psychokinetic destructive power of Akira. As Tetsuo quickly discovers his hidden powers and learns to harness his full potential, he now discovers the existence of Akira and pursues his newly-acquired quest to meet this legendary source of destruction. Although he might be the only person capable to control Akira’s powers, he is also on a dark and mysterious path that could amount to another chaotic incident that could mean the end of everything once again. With his obsession blindly driving him to meet Akira, he is also hunted down by a clandestine resistance group who look to stop him before any potential threat could be unleashed. It is now only a race against time.
There isn’t a manga out there that knows how to keep you glued to its pages like Akira. With the mystery behind the identity of Akira at the center stage of this story, mangaka Katsuhiro Otomo continuously teases its reveal with hints that not only invite you to guess what kind of chaos will ensue but also solicit your imagination into determining the authenticity of this threat that originates from Akira. On top of stretching this suspense to the brink of destruction, the story also slowly teases new magical elements to further develop its world and establish the science-fiction premise on which the story is built upon. While the story is indubitably addictive and doesn’t let you go till the very last panel, it remains that the second volume doesn’t progress the story very much and barely scratched the surface on what’s going on and where it’s all headed. In fact, questions of motive still arise in me with characters like Tetsuo and it makes you realize that there is a lot of character development that is put aside for pure adrenaline fun.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s visual direction continues to be strong in this second volume with some of the most consistent and clear artwork yet. While there are moments where you’re not too sure what is going on in certain adjacent panels during action sequences where huge explosions occur, for the most part, it is easy to understand the ongoing events and to be quickly caught in the torrent as Akira remains an extremely dialogue-light story. The lack of dialogues also allows Katsuhiro Otomo to capitalize on his artistic talents and to let the drawings speak for themselves. After all, the incredible attention to detail in each panel is staggering at times and often reminds you why he was always meant to be a visual director who can perfectly control the motion and pacing of events. The mere fact that he was able to draw out an event in such a thick volume while barely progressing the story is proof that he always had a knack for visual story-telling.
Akira (Vol. 2) is an addictive installment that teases the arrival of a dangerous and powerful being without advancing the plot effectively or too significantly.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The movie adaptation is considered to be the most visually-stunning and revolutionary animated movie of all time! Have you seen it?