Akira Cine-Manga

    (Tokyopop, 2003)
™ and © Tokyopop

The definitive post-apocalyptic dystopia is set in Neo Tokyo, previously turned to ruins by a blast that started World War 3. Now, a teen-age bike gang stumbles on a scientific experiment of the military industrial complex. A secret agency targets, coaxes, and harnesses emerging psychic powers of unusual individuals. However, one of its new test subjects, Tetsuo, will soon defy its control. His former pal Kaneda learns of the underground resistance. As he chips away at the conspiracy, the metropolis is primed to become a battleground, as the power of “Akira” is unleashed again.

This is the first of five compilations of “film comics” of Katsuhiro Otomo’s epic 1988 movie. In this pocket format, what strikes the reader immediately is the dearth of dialogue. In addition, TokyoPop has joined the “read from right to left” movement. But here it’s not really a necessity, since all theatergoers watch the animation the same way. Finally, the viewing experience is uneven, as readers encounter inconsistent resolution from panel to panel.

True believers will check this out, if they have the allowance to spare. But, given the options of viewing the remastered DVD anime from Pioneer or the re-released manga from Dark Horse, this adaptation lacks the awesome scope of the former and stunning detail of the latter.

— Oliver Chin

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