Akira (Vol. 6) by Katsuhiro Otomo

details
Title: Akira.
Volume: 6.
Writer(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Illustrator(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: April 12th, 2011 (first published on March 23rd, 1990).
Pages: 440.
Genre(s): Manga, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781935429074.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

Also in the Akira series:
Akira (Vol. 1) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 2) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 3) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 4) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 5) by Katsuhiro Otomo

thoughts

The Japanese cyberpunk manga written and illustrated by the visionary mangaka Katsuhiro Otomo comes to an end with this sixth volume that encapsulates the sheer epic scope of this saga. Written from 1982 to 1990, further popularized by the release of the 1988 anime movie, this saga remains the golden standard of the medium as it intertwines social criticism and political intrigue with a cinematic and elaborate artistic style to deliver a fast-paced, dialogue-light, and action-packed tale. With its ideological and symbolic exploration of life, death, and rebirth, this adventure depicts a tragic future where children are the guardians of life on Earth. The sixth and final volume thus paves the way to a mind-numbing conclusion that will leave all readers astounded while establishing itself as an immortal classic.

What is Akira (Vol. 6) about? In the 21st century, Neo-Tokyo is born from the destructive aftermath of a godlike psychic nuclear phenomenon. Now reigned by two child-gods, the silent Akira and the unhinged Tetsuo, it is up to various forces to utilize their ultimate weapons to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately, time is against them as the mad yet powerful Tetsuo sees himself driven with madness and self-destruction as he feasts on the unlimited energy that gathers within him. While his body transforms into unspeakable monstrosities, the world spirals into darkness as the fate of the universe lies in the hands of children whose destiny is beyond their wildest dreams. This is the end feared by all. This is the beginning of something greater.

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Boy oh boy, this sure was a page-turner! Fans of this series are bound to be delighted by the grand finale unveiled in this volume. If you thought the first volumes spared you from the use of words, expect this one to hammer it home almost entirely with artwork that packs a punch and sends you reeling acrosses parallel universes. Although it was clearly hinted with the cliffhanger from the previous volume, this final stretch looks to wrap things up once and for all by pitting Tetsuo against all those who seek to put an end to the chaos that has been unraveling for the past volumes. While the visionary and meticulous artistic style of Katsuhiro Otomo offers some of the best cinematic experiences you can get from manga, it remains incredibly ambitious in its scope as it pushes the narrative even further into cosmic relevance that was never tackled upon to this moment. While mind-warping—sort of à la 2001: A Space Odyssey—it remains relatively unsettling as the mangaka steers the story to an ambiguous ending that might not be to everyone’s taste.

Where there will probably be an unequivocal consensus amongst readers is in the underlying fast-paced story-telling arising from the awe-inspiring artwork. Despite the size of this volume, it is insanely astonishing how quickly you will zoom through this final act as it privileges colossal confrontations between monsters, psychics, and man-made technology. There is so much to take in from the artwork, let alone the incredible amount of detail that went into penciling the destruction. Blending horror into the story gave it a singularity that undoubtedly keeps you hooked to the end. Although the science-fiction epic that takes place here is unforgettable, there are still countless flaws and critique that can be noted, from the trivial conversation between Tetsuo and Kaneda—whose bond was very poorly handled and developed throughout the series—to the political agenda given to the ending of this saga that chastises international peacekeepers. Nonetheless, the series offers an in-depth and visually-alluring manga that will always spur thought-provoking discussions on war and human nature.

Akira (Vol. 6) is a dazzling cinematic finale exploring the madness of limitless power and humankind’s insatiable thirst for destruction and reincarnation.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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The movie adaptation is considered to be the most visually-stunning and revolutionary animated movie of all time! Have you seen it yet?

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22 comments

    • Yep, I was conflicted by my overall impression of the series and that of this particular volume. I didn’t want to focus on the issues that I raised vaguely here but they were what ultimately made me give it a good 3 stars.

      Hahahah yes it was! As I was finishing up my review, I was trying to remember if I had ever seen you review for the final volume before you wrapped it up but then remembered that the only time I saw you speak about Akira was when you got the beautiful hardcover box set!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, I did my review soon after joining Booklikes, as manga, even the size of Akira, was easy to read and review and I wanted the site to be alive. Man, it’s only been a couple of years.

        Are you used to the ambiguity in most anime/manga at their endings? I had gotten used to it in anime but it still caught my attention/bothered me with Akira.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep, almost 5 years! Another 5 and maybe a reread of those hardcovers will be necessary! 😀 😀 😀

          Absolutely. I think they just prefer metaphysical endings, especially when they leave things open-ended, considering that they seem to never been sure if they want to come back to this world in the future or not (e.g. the need for sequels). Akira is definitely among the worse when it comes to those endings though… There’s a lot left unanswered and things that almost make no sense too hahahah

          Liked by 1 person

          • I suspect you are correct about those hard covers. And 10 years seems to be a good time between books now 🙂

            Well, at least the manga-ka didn’t have a breakdown like the creator of Evangelion did and pretty much rush the ending and destroy the franchise :-/

            Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge you had exactly the same thought as I had while reading Lashaan’s review! It was so positive and I expected something different after the 3 stars rating LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  • I’ve never tried the manga but I do recall really enjoying the anime. It was so long ago I don’t remember all that much from it, just a few scenes and the overall mood of the story. I keep thinking I should rewatch it, but there’s still so much anime I’ve yet to see… How did you feel the shorter movie compared to the entire manga series? Did it have to give up too much, or was it a decent translation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen the movie yet. I was holding it off till I completed the manga. I’ll probably do a review for a movie to share my thoughts on it this year. I fear you’re right and that it won’t manage to squeeze the whole series into one movie but that it will still be a fantastic action-packed movie. After all, the movie was also released before the manga was completed. It was bound to not be perfect.

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  • Looks like such a simple comic (black and white), yet so powerful. That’s pretty neat. Not everything that shines is gold and not everything that is black and white is boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review, Lashaan! 😍 I can’t remember but I think this is the volume you liked the least? 🤔 I’m not sure but I think that all the other volumes were 4 or 5 stars? 🤔 Anyway, it still sounds really good!😍

    Liked by 1 person

  • Fantastic review my friend, it’s been great following your journey with this series – one that I hope I’ll get to read in some form one day. It sounds like a pretty solid finale despite the minor flaws. I love an ambiguous ending so that wouldn’t trouble me at all (and the mere whispering of ‘2001’ always gets me excited).

    I look froward to your review of the anime (you did mention you’d be reviewing it didn’t you or has my memory slipped?) – I definitely want to revisit that this year myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris. It’s definitely a manga worth visiting and one that I hope you get the chance to try out. And yes hahaha you would totally see what I mean by it ressembling to 2001. 😀

      And yes, I hope to share my thoughts on the classic anime movie now that I’ve completed the manga. Especially to see how different it might be of the manga. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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