Writer(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Illustrator(s): Katsuhiro Otomo.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics.
Release Date: April 12th, 2011 (first published on March 23rd, 1990).
Genre(s): Manga, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Also in the Akira series:
Akira (Vol. 1) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 2) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 3) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 4) by Katsuhiro Otomo
Akira (Vol. 5) by Katsuhiro Otomo
The Japanese cyberpunk manga written and illustrated by the visionary mangaka Katsuhiro Otomo comes to an end with this sixth volume that encapsulates the sheer epic scope of this saga. Written from 1982 to 1990, further popularized by the release of the 1988 anime movie, this saga remains the golden standard of the medium as it intertwines social criticism and political intrigue with a cinematic and elaborate artistic style to deliver a fast-paced, dialogue-light, and action-packed tale. With its ideological and symbolic exploration of life, death, and rebirth, this adventure depicts a tragic future where children are the guardians of life on Earth. The sixth and final volume thus paves the way to a mind-numbing conclusion that will leave all readers astounded while establishing itself as an immortal classic.
What is Akira (Vol. 6) about? In the 21st century, Neo-Tokyo is born from the destructive aftermath of a godlike psychic nuclear phenomenon. Now reigned by two child-gods, the silent Akira and the unhinged Tetsuo, it is up to various forces to utilize their ultimate weapons to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately, time is against them as the mad yet powerful Tetsuo sees himself driven with madness and self-destruction as he feasts on the unlimited energy that gathers within him. While his body transforms into unspeakable monstrosities, the world spirals into darkness as the fate of the universe lies in the hands of children whose destiny is beyond their wildest dreams. This is the end feared by all. This is the beginning of something greater.
Boy oh boy, this sure was a page-turner! Fans of this series are bound to be delighted by the grand finale unveiled in this volume. If you thought the first volumes spared you from the use of words, expect this one to hammer it home almost entirely with artwork that packs a punch and sends you reeling acrosses parallel universes. Although it was clearly hinted with the cliffhanger from the previous volume, this final stretch looks to wrap things up once and for all by pitting Tetsuo against all those who seek to put an end to the chaos that has been unraveling for the past volumes. While the visionary and meticulous artistic style of Katsuhiro Otomo offers some of the best cinematic experiences you can get from manga, it remains incredibly ambitious in its scope as it pushes the narrative even further into cosmic relevance that was never tackled upon to this moment. While mind-warping—sort of à la 2001: A Space Odyssey—it remains relatively unsettling as the mangaka steers the story to an ambiguous ending that might not be to everyone’s taste.
Where there will probably be an unequivocal consensus amongst readers is in the underlying fast-paced story-telling arising from the awe-inspiring artwork. Despite the size of this volume, it is insanely astonishing how quickly you will zoom through this final act as it privileges colossal confrontations between monsters, psychics, and man-made technology. There is so much to take in from the artwork, let alone the incredible amount of detail that went into penciling the destruction. Blending horror into the story gave it a singularity that undoubtedly keeps you hooked to the end. Although the science-fiction epic that takes place here is unforgettable, there are still countless flaws and critique that can be noted, from the trivial conversation between Tetsuo and Kaneda—whose bond was very poorly handled and developed throughout the series—to the political agenda given to the ending of this saga that chastises international peacekeepers. Nonetheless, the series offers an in-depth and visually-alluring manga that will always spur thought-provoking discussions on war and human nature.
Akira (Vol. 6) is a dazzling cinematic finale exploring the madness of limitless power and humankind’s insatiable thirst for destruction and reincarnation.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The movie adaptation is considered to be the most visually-stunning and revolutionary animated movie of all time! Have you seen it yet?