Published just over 40 years ago, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is nothing short of a masterpiece. I can only think of a handful of manga and anime that have influenced pop culture the same way Akira has. It’s a sprawling sci-fi epic, a watershed moment for the cyberpunk genre and was a pivotal influence in introducing manga to wider Western audiences.
If you’ve been meaning to crack open this cyberpunk epic for the first time or even just revisit the ruins of Neo-Tokyo, this anniversary printing is how you do it – especially since this remastered set is currently on sale for $221.63, down from $375.
Kodansha released the deluxe box set of Akira back in 2017 to celebrate the manga’s 35th anniversary. Included in the set are the six volumes of the series, along with the odds-and-ends artbook Akira Club. You also get a neat little patch of Kaneda’s jacket design.
When you consider that the individual volumes of Akira retail for $43 to $53 each, that’s one hell of a deal. Akira Club also seems to be out of print at the moment, so this is also the only way to get your hands on it without paying out the nose for a secondhand copy. The series isn’t currently available digitally, so your options are limited.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
Why should you read Akira?
The first chapter of Akira was published back in December 1982. This series took place in the far-off year of 2019, where teenage biker gangs wage war on the streets of a dystopian Neo-Tokyo, while a growing resistance attempts to overthrow a corrupt government.
When Tetsuo, a punk biker with a severe self-esteem problem, is involved in an accident, he awakens latent psychic powers. He lets these new abilities go to his head, kicking off a gang war that builds to a revolution that permanently alters Neo-Tokyo. Almost forty years later, it remains a high watermark of both manga and comics as a whole.
If you’re a big fan of the movie adaption of Akira but have never dipped your toes into the source material, you owe it to yourself to read it. Even though the Akira anime was written and directed by Otomo, it only covers about a third of the manga, at best. It’s almost like reading a different work that shares the same characters and setting.
It also looks goddamn incredible. There’s more talent and craft on show in single pages than most cartoonists can manage in entire issues. I regularly think about how Otomo opted to draw the series’ iconic explosion by crosshatching it with hundreds of thin ink lines for an entire evening, instead of taking the easier route of painting it straight black because he wanted to convey the significance of the event. That’s dedication.
This box set is the definitive version of the Akira manga. Each volume is now housed in a sturdy hardcover and, unlike previous English printings, now reads in the traditional right-to-left. The manga also retains the original hand-drawn sound effects and is printed on high-quality paper, so Otomo’s detailed art is incredibly crisp. Akira has never looked better.
You can grab the 35th Anniversary Akira box set on sale here. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
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