Present Tense Book Review – Akira: Part 2

(Part One of this Present Tense Book Review.)

I’ve recently read volumes 3 and 4 of Akira, and the story has now diverged quite a lot from that of the film (I did wonder how the film plot was going to stretch to over 2000 pages). Much of the action of book 3 was rather reminiscent of a cliffhanger-based TV show like 24, where there are a bunch of people trying to find/protect a MacGuffin, and there’s lots of shooting and entertainingly destructive collateral damage. It does get a bit much, but things pick up again in the next volume.

In book 4, Akira sort of takes centre-stage, as a physical presence rather than a latent, mythical spirit, although he remains ominously mute and child-like, and the action is done in his name, rather than by him personally. It’s a powerful, effective technique that makes Akira simultaneously scary and vulnerable. I missed Kaneda in this volume, although it was nice to see Kaori make an appearance, albeit in role rather different from the one she played in the film. And it seems sort of obvious, but I should say that the drawing is ridiculously good – sometimes I get caught up in the story, and then flick back to look at the pictures in more detail. Smashing stuff.

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