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Katsuhiro Otomos Akira was a milestone in both manga and manga anime. As a manga, it became an indispensable cyberpunk classic alongside that of Shirow Masamune ghost in the shell and Yukito Kishiros gunm (battle angel). As anime, it essentially reinvented the modern concept of media beyond “Japanese cartoons”. There were mature cartoon series and films before that AkiraOtomo’s film broke the dam and brought many more adult-oriented films and shows to the fore.



Though Otomo directed both the manga and anime films, the latter is a very different beast from the former. He strained his animators to get everything just right, but even he had to choose which subplots, sections, and characters would get it moving.

7 Kaneda’s more central role

Despite the call Akira, the most iconic character of the series is Shotaro Kaneda. He’s the one on the film’s many posters, the one with the fancy motorcycle and the one doing that neat ride-on that every animated series since 1988 has copied in one way or another. He’s pretty much the same in both the manga and the film: a cocky jerk with a chicken to hack around with Tetsuo and the authorities.

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The manga continues to develop his relationship with Kei, one of the members of the resistance. But surprisingly, Kaneda doesn’t stand out in the manga as much as in the movie. His backstory, his connection to Tetsuo and why he ends up loathing him are all sorted out very quickly. That’s because the manga is more about different factions competing against each other than a single protagonist versus a single antagonist. Kaneda was just one of many heroes.

6 Tetsuo’s characterization

Likewise, Tetsuo’s heel turn happens much faster in the manga as well. The film gives him a more sympathetic backstory as a biker kid with an inferiority complex that overwhelms him when he gets his powers. In the manga, he starts abusing his powers as soon as he gets them. He breaks away from Kaneda’s gang, takes over a rival group, and begins strategizing against everyone else.

Drugs play a bigger role in the film than just medicine. Tetsuo begins taking them to keep his pain at bay, sometimes forcing others to take them just to watch them die from the overdose. Meanwhile, Kaori, who is portrayed as his girlfriend in the film, starts out as a toy in the manga, which Tetsuo gradually warms to. In the movie, he wasn’t an angel, but in the manga, he’s much more of a devil.

5 Missing characters

Having characters cut out of media isn’t new and happens to even the most popular characters. Akira is notable for having to cut off a good chunk of them, including Tetsuo’s entire faction. For example, the “Birdman” was a blindfolded character with an eye tattoo on his forehead who acted as a lookout through his psychic powers. His friend the “Eggman” transmits Birdman’s visions through their psychic connection to the others.

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There was also a character known only as “Tetsuo’s Adjutant: or “Captain” who attempts to manipulate Tetsuo by scheming behind his back. Both he and the Eggman are killed by another cut character, a Japanese- American soldier named George Yamada.

The most popular cut character is on the heroes side. Chiyoko was a muscular weapons expert who acted as Kei’s aunt and looked after her within the resistance. It bounced off of her and Kaneda in a funny and charming way. If any future Akira project she had in it, it would be a plus for most fans.


4 Lady Miyako was much more important

Some character changes in the media can really be beneficial. Unfortunately, Lady Miyako’s changes have not been so good. They served more to save time than to add character. In the film, she was an Akira-worshipping weirdo who followed Tetsuo once he freed himself. She showed no powers and added no meaning to the storyline — aside from singing, protesting, and (presumably) being killed off-screen.

In the manga, Lady Miyako was one of the Espers. She still ran a religious cult, which was the main beneficiary of the resistance. Nezu, the little rat-like government official, obeyed her orders when he wasn’t working on his own agenda. She shaped the manga’s events from the shadows, told the resistance what they needed to know about the government, protected the people caught in the crossfire, and paved the way for Tetsuo to his end.


3 There are more espers

These are the three weird old kids with psychic abilities, Takashi, Masaru and Kiyoko. Akira was also among their ranks. In the manga, just like in the movie, they were all government test subjects examining their abilities. Except in the film, they are treated as if they, Akira, and Tetsuo are the only ones with powers. The manga further expands on their backstory, revealing that they were just a few of many subjects involved in the government’s project.

Each of them was marked with numbers. Lady Miyako was #19, Akira was #28, and Tetsuo was the 41st and final subject. The other numbered subjects are not named, although it is suspected that they were killed or horribly injured as part of the experiments. Not that the main Espers are safe either. Takashi is killed during the manga, causing Akira to freak out and wiping out Neo Tokyo.


2 Akira goes from MacGuffin to Nothing

Wait, Akira actually shows up?! The biggest difference is that Akira was a real character in the manga – well, sort of. After his psychic explosion, he was cryogenically held underground to prevent further tragedy. Kiyoko prophesied that he would return with Tetsuo and destroy Tokyo again. Needless to say, they keep their word. Once revived and placed in Tetsuo’s care, he is treated simultaneously as a deity and a weapon of mass destruction. Anyone who threatens him and his territory risks driving him mad again.

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In the film, on the other hand, only parts of Akira are frozen. The government dissected his body and kept it for study. Tetsuo takes his body parts and rules over the rest of Neo-Tokyo as his most powerful medium. Barring flashbacks, Akira only appears as an intact person at the end, where he becomes the deus ex machina. He’s less of a titular character and more of a titular concept at best.

1 Drawn to different conclusions

Otomo would ultimately regret doing that Akira movie before finishing the manga. In a feature for the March 1991 issue of the Monthly Film Bulletin, he said, “When I was working on the film, I liked the idea of ​​having two different but similar versions of the same story, but part of me still thinks about that part of that.” Original was sacrificed.” The ending of the film, where Kaneda is lost in the psychic explosion and sees Tetsuo’s old memories, was something that Otomo wished he could have used for the manga.

It takes the two back to when they first met at their orphanage, back to the time when they were just two lonely kids who became friends. It’s a nice finish to her bows. The conclusion of the manga is similar, only that Otomo had to hide the political aspects as well. Kaneda and co fight the United Nations, threaten them by pretending they still own Akira, and found the Great Tokyo Empire. It’s okay, although its complications take away from the sweetness of the film’s ending.

MORE: Akira’s ending, explained

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