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Akira (Japanese: アキラ Hepburn: Akira), often stylized as AKIRA, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by mangaka Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in a post-apocalyptic and futuristic Neo-Tokyo, the manga focuses on the efforts of a biker gang leader: Kaneda, a group of wizened “espers”: genetically modified individuals with superhuman telekinetic abilities, and Neo-Tokyo’s military force, led by Colonel Shikishima, to stop a mentally-fractured youth and Kaneda’s former friend: Tetsuo, who begins to manifest unstable and incredible telekinetic abilities after a freak accident, from ravaging the city in a large-scale rampage, and awakening another mysterious and incredibly powerful esper named “Akira”, who was responsible for the mass decimation of Neo-Tokyo, more than two decades ago. Through this work, Otomo uses conventions of the cyberpunk genre to detail a saga of turmoil. Initially serialized in the pages of Young Magazine from 1982 until 1990, the work was collected into six volumes by its publisher Kodansha. The work was first published in an English-language version by the Marvel Comics imprint Epic Comics, one of the first manga works to be translated in its entirety. Otomo’s art is considered outstanding, and a breakthrough for both Otomo and the manga form.[2] Throughout the breadth of the work, Otomo explores themes of social isolation, corruption, and power. An animated film adaptation (anime) was released in 1988 that shortened the plot considerably, but retained much of the main character and plot structures from the manga as well as many original scenes and settings. The manga takes place in a longer time frame than the film, and involves a much wider array of characters and subplots. Otomo’s Akira anime marked his transition from a career primarily in manga, to one almost exclusively in anime. Akira was instrumental in an upsurge of manga popularity outside Japan, especially as Epic Comics’ edition was colorised and coincided with the release of the film. It has won several awards, including the Kodansha Manga and Harvey Awards, and is named as being an important title in the French manga explosion.


On December 6, 1982, an apparent nuclear explosion destroys Tokyo and starts World War III. By 2019, a new city called Neo-Tokyo has been built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Although Neo-Tokyo is set to host the XXXII Olympic Games, the city is gripped by anti-government terrorism and gang violence. While riding in the ruins of old Tokyo, Tetsuo Shima, a member of the bōsōzoku gang led by Shōtarō Kaneda, was accidentally injured when his bike explodes after Takashi — a child Esper with wizened features — blocks his path. This incident awakens psychic powers in Tetsuo, attracting the attention of a secret government project directed by JSDF Colonel Shikishima. These increasing powers unhinge Tetsuo's mind, exacerbating his inferiority complex about Kaneda and leading him to assume leadership of the rival Clown gang.

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