THE AKIRA BOOK
KATSUHIRO OTOMO: THE MOVIE AND THE MANGA: A CRITICAL STUDY
by Jeremy Mark Robinson
This is a book about Akira - the manga of 1982-90 and the movie of 1988, and about the creator of Akira, the genius artist Katsuhiro Otomo (b. 1954). There are very few genuine auteurs in Japanese animation: the animation industry, like all filmmaking on a large scale, is truly collaborative. However, you can definitely see elements in the films directed and written and supervised by Katsuhiro Otomo that are auteurist: Otomo has his own style, visually, but also his own concerns, thematically, politically and psychologically.
Akira is a GIANT of a movie that opens at full blast: this movie rocks from shot one. It really rocks - at a far higher level of intensity than any comparable movie, including all of the classics regularly trotted out as hi-octane movie-making. Akira is clearly one of those movies where the filmmakers have thrown everything they can think of into the mix, and it's a movie in which the film-makers have given their all.
Meanwhile, the manga of Akira exceeds all expectations - about storytelling, about what a comicbook or manga is, about how an action-adventure-fantasy story can work in a contemporary setting, and how a story can be genuinely thrilling, genuinely political, genuinely wild and epic.
In short, Akira ticks all of the boxes: (a) it has action and spectacle in spades, (b) it has fascinating characters and situations, (c) it is incredibly exciting, (d) it is very unusual, sometimes downright eccentric and out-there, (e) it is highly politicized, (f) it has plenty to say about living in the modern world, about contemporary, advanced capitalist societies, and (g) it establishes its own world, its own raison d'etre, its own philosophy with supreme self-confidence.
Akira is the manga to top all manga, to end all manga. It is a manga designed to go further, louder and crazier than any other manga. And it does Akira delivers on its promise: it really is every bit as great as everybody says it is.
Volume one of the manga of Akira was published in Young Magazine in 1982-83, by Kodansha (one of the big three among manga publishers in Japan - the other two are Sogakkan and Shueisha), when Katsuhiro Otomo was 28.
The Akira Book includes chapters on: Katsuhiro Otomo's other manga and movies; his inspirations and influences; the contemporary anime industry; and a section of the views of critics and fans. Every aspect of the Akira movie is explored (animation, sound, music, voices, story, themes, etc).
Fully illustrated, including many images of the Akira movie, the Akira manga, Otomo's other works in comics and cinema, Otomo's inspirations, etc.
Bibliography, resources and notes. Available in both hardcover and paperback. 760 pages.