By Shannon H.

Despite all the great titles coming out this week, Black Butler Volume 5 and 20th Century Boys Volume 14 among them, there is only one thing to talk about at the moment, and that’s Katsuhiro Otomo’s infamous Akira. At long last, after almost ten years, all six volumes of the most epic manga ever have finally been reprinted by Kodansha, which is glorious mostly because it means I don’t have to lend out my Dark Horse copies from back in the day anymore.

I remember my first experience with Akira, back when you were lucky to find maybe one or two mangas at any given bookseller. (God, I feel so old.) I’d heard whispers of it on my obsessive, youthful quests to find out any and everything about this thing called ‘anime’, mostly because the movie is so iconic and hard to miss when looking into the history of Japanese animation. So when I stumbled upon the firstAkira graphic novel, I thought that I should look into it, even though I had yet to see the film and didn’t know much else about it than it was supposed to be super violent and awesome. I brought the book home and began to read: by the time the week was out, I had purchased all six books and was forcing myself to pace myself through the epicness so that it wouldn’t ever have to end. (Pro Tip: watch the film of Akira before you read the manga if at all possible; otherwise, the movie is just damn disappointing, and that is not something you should ever have to think about it, because it is a very important one to see.)

Then Akira vanished.

It is only by the will of the robot gods of Japan that we have been graced with Akira once more in both its original manga form and a Blu-Ray version of the film. The manga reprint is pretty much almost exactly like the former Dark Horse version, which was much more true to the original than the first run that Marvel did even before that. (That trainwreck of an edition featured the manga with colourized panels, because Marvel apparently decided that Americans wouldn’t know what to do with a comic in black and white. It ruined the artwork so much, it was almost criminal.) Even though the books are bigger than your average manga, the incredible paneling and cinematic artwork will carry you through so quickly, you’ll barely know where the time went.

And if the visuals aren’t enough, the story will get you: a sci-fi political story of such grandeur, it seems almost inhuman that one man could have concieved it all by himself. In the future, biker gangs still run rapant throughout Tokyo, which has been rebuilt since the mysterious explosion that leveled it and triggered World War III. The runt of Kaneda’s delinquent posse is Tetsuo — that is, until he displays psychic abilities so sharp, the government kidnaps him for their own secret purposes. Bullheaded Kaneda, determined to rescue his best friend (without much thought as to just whom he is actually messing with), soon finds himself wrapped up with an anti-government resistance that seems to be running in the same direction as he is. Not to mention one of the members is a totally hot babe! Before long, Kaneda realizes that he’s just grazed the surface of something far more sinister and intense than he could have ever imagined. And Tetsuo seems to have undergone a change….

And if that STILL isn’t enough to convince you that you need all six Akira volumes right here, right now, there is more than enough ridiculous violence, gore and mayhem to supply you for a good, long while. Hands getting shot off, faces getting curb stomped, explosions and psychic battles to melt your brain into a giant, fleshy mass of craziness — name one single thing wrong with any of it. Oh, what, you can’t? Exactly.

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