Akira: Classic Or Dud?

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If Mr Farrell means the bit I'm thinking of then yeah that bit's stunning - also for the way in the panel after (spoiler?) gets shot, the uh camera angle shifts and suddenly the layout for him lying on the ground and everyone's reaction has all this white space going on - the shifts between clutter and emptiness seem to have a fair bit to do with why the storytelling is good, when it's good.

Akira-the-movie, according to IMDB and to everything2.com, comes out in 1988 - a search for "akira" at the latter also produces the information that "there are at least 188 known ways to write "Akira" using Japanese Kanji characters, each with a different meaning". The Marvel/Epic version begins publishing in 1988.

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 14:44 (fourteen years ago) link

"the perception that Japan was this place where everyone from 8 to 80 read comics on the tube" is something I was thinking of invoking - bcz if that's to be considered with regards to Akira's success, why is it that Akira can be figured in manga/anime's establishment as a particular narrow cult interest..

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 14:52 (fourteen years ago) link

(which i suppose it isn't anymore, in the same way, now that a lot more stuff is coming out)

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 14:53 (fourteen years ago) link

Wow. Some really insightful comments in this thread so far...

In relation to the 'what was first translated Manga'?

The colourised Epic editions of Akira came out in '88 (around the same time Dark Horse started publishing the Studio Proteus version of Appleseed), and ran until '95. Graphitti published their hardback versions of it in 1990, followed by Dark Horse's paperbacks in the mid-late 90's, but Akira definitely wasn?t the first translated Manga...

Mai the Psychic Girl, is usually mentioned as the first Manga widely distributed in the US. Jointly published by Viz and Eclipse, It started in Spring 87 in biweekly (I think) rotation with the Sci-Fi title: Area 88 and the excellent Sanpei Shirato ninja adventure: Legend of Kamui. You can still pick up original copies of all of these titles for next to nothing, though, with the exception of Area 88, they've all been republished by Viz as 'perfect collections'.

Published almost simultaneously with the above were First?s large format translations of Lone Wolf and Cub with the original Frank Miller covers. Id be hard pushed to say if Lone Wolf or Mai came first, as I think the first issues of each both came out within a few months of each other, and I didn?t pick either of them up till a few years later, but I think that LWAC might have the edge.

Prior to the Viz/Eclipse/First glut in 87, Takao Saito's futuristic spy saga: Golgo 13 was part translated for Anime UK (and I think it was published in the US as well) in 1985.

Keiji Nakazawa's 'Barefoot Gen' though, is generally considered to be the 'first' translated Manga. The Tokyo based 'Project Gen' (an offshoot of Frederick Schodt's DADAKAI organization attained publishing for 2 volumes of their translated version of this amazing comic in 1979, well before First/Eclipse and Viz got in on the act... Schodt also translated 2 volumes of 'the rose of Versailles, and sections from several of Osamu Tezuka's works, bits of which saw the light of day in his definitive Manga Anthology, 'Manga, Manga, Manga", which came out in 1983 (and is still in print today.) The good news is that Gen is now being republished in its entirety, though I?ve only seen the first 2 books so far....

Not to contradict myself, but the definitive 'first' translated Manga, may not be Gen at all. I?ve heard rumours that, back in the 1970s an American Professor of East Asian languages and Cultures translated a few short Manga stories (including "Nejishiki", by Tsuge Yoshiharu) which were then reprinted in The Comics Journal in 2003. Are there any journal fans out there that might have this issue? If so, does it give a date of original translation?

-------------------------------------------------

So why Akira? Did the film's success drive the comic or vice versa?

Akira the Anime came out in Japan in July '88, and (due in no small part to its unprecedented production values) was a huge hit in theaters there, but AFAIK, this would have been long after Epic started work on their version of the comic. The English version of Akira hit screens in the US/UK in 90/91, when several issues had already been published, and whilst it must have helped to have such a big advertisement for one of your comics playing in cinemas all over the world, I?m not sure it was a factor in them choosing it.

Id say it had a lot more to do with a) It being written and drawn by an up-and-coming wunderkind of Manga, who'd already had huge success in Japan with his early works such as 'Domu' and 'Fireball' b) it having more of a 'European' (read moebius) style of artwork than most Manga. i.e.: No cute super-deformed characters, with huge heads and big eyes or other Japanese cultural memes to confuse the western readers, and c) because its a consummate bit of graphic storytelling, definitely a classic, not just of Manga, but of comics in general..

I wrote a fawning review of Akira for the ILC greatest ever comics Poll that Tom mentioned above. If you want any more of my bloated opinions, they can be found about 1/10th of the way down the page: The Best Comics Ever Sez ILC

droid, Wednesday, 9 March 2005 15:13 (fourteen years ago) link

Argh.. typo-tastic post. ILX Does weird things in firefox.

First line should have a ';)'

Second line should have a 'the'

And there should be a ')' after 'DADAKAI organization'

Sorry about that...

droid, Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:48 (fourteen years ago) link

the comic helped but the film was huge, i remember seeing it with a friend and then afterward the two of us deciding we would get 'tetsuo' and 'kaneda' (sic?) vanity tags (we were fifteen, very very ready to drive, and had heard vanity tags were only like fifteen bucks more and hence couldn't figure out why EVERYONE didn't have vanity tags) and then arguing who whould get what. i haven't seen it since high school so i have no idea how well it's held up but it was huge at the time.

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 10 March 2005 23:15 (fourteen years ago) link

hey uh droid have you seen the interview with schmidt + collaborators in the back of vol two of the current edition of 'phoenix'? apparently the translations in those date back to the 70s also, although they may have been updated..

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 12 March 2005 16:18 (fourteen years ago) link

also i couldn't actually work out what was happening in the last page, which is possibly why i felt kinda unsatisfied -

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 12 March 2005 16:21 (fourteen years ago) link

b) it having more of a 'European' (read moebius) style of artwork than most Manga. i.e.: No cute super-deformed characters, with huge heads and big eyes or other Japanese cultural memes to confuse the western readers

I think, on reading the recent reprints, that I was suprised by the fact that even in this grittier-than-gritty book, there were still big-round-O mouths and goggle eyes on some of the support characters (I'm thinking of Kaneda's gang in school)

Er, it's possible I'm thinking of something else, mind.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Saturday, 12 March 2005 17:30 (fourteen years ago) link

hurr.

i doubt modernist has any meaningful application here, at least not in terms of storytelling - the 'cinematic' approach wasn't particularly unprecedented, though it may have stood out as being exceptionally well executed. the trad visual lexicon of manga has always been very action-oriented, very kinetic, but not necessarily 'movie-like'. culturally, akira was WAY more important in the western world than it ever was in Japan (especially the movie). before manga/anime became a genuine, sizeable portion of youth culture, akira was one of a few easily-recognized touchstones that had crossover success. it mos def helped that it oozed 'prestige', the high production values and bloody-minded hugeness of it, not to mention an unprecedented media push, made it emblematic of anime over here for almost a decade. it's probably irrelevent at this point, since most american manga/anime fans are in their pre-teens. which is how it should be.

Cabaret Voltron (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS), Sunday, 13 March 2005 23:47 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

I finally picked up the last of the dark horse tankobons and went through the whole mess in a couple of sittings. Everything above about otomo's working in more of a metal hurlant than shonen jump style and his usage of all-boxes-all-the-time storyboard panels OTM, and it's fantastic.

Unfortunately I've been spoiled by more recent manga reprint treatments and am a little annoyed at the big BROOM CHBAOF sfx all over the place, plus everytime something's written in japanese in the artwork they've either fucked with it badly (see kaneda's graffiti left for the colonel, esp) or you're guaranteed a character in that panel or the next is going to be "reading it out loud" as their dialogue, which I somehow doubt was in the original material. But whatever, as a whole the storyline holds up very well - I'm just concerned about a couple of things:

1. how fucking big is this town?
2. how fucking big are the colonel and chiyoko? I mean the colonel can apparently palm four packs of cigarettes like they're the size of fig newtons and chiyoko appears to be nearly half a meter taller than kei. Yow.
3. does the joker seriously get up every morning and decide on a new facepaint pattern?
4. man this otomo guy sure likes to draw panels that consist entirely of of the ground with a main characters' foot on it.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 16 December 2007 09:31 (eleven years ago) link

The movie Akira came out in July of 88? That kind of surprises me as I know I saw part of that movie in Japanese at the Chicago comic con that summer. I went to the Chicago comic con twice in 87 and 88, so it had to be one of those years.

earlnash, Monday, 17 December 2007 00:40 (eleven years ago) link

i don't know as much about comics as most people here so i'll keep this short - classic.

there, said it.

Ste, Thursday, 27 December 2007 11:31 (eleven years ago) link

This thread has inspired me. I'm going to give Akira a read this week and see if it's worth the fuss. Anything I should know going in?

Mordechai Shinefield, Monday, 31 December 2007 04:23 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Never read Akira, the anime was a big favorite of mine in the nineties when it played on the Sci-Fi channel with some regularity. re-watching it tonight, dubbed, because the remote for the dvd player has no batteries so i can't change the language. it's almost as convoluted and weird as i remember. much of the animation is still stunning. i should read the manga.

ian, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 03:43 (ten years ago) link

funny i just rewatched part of this on the wknd - specifically the part where his toys come alive and attack him. the manga is pretty incredible dude

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 03:49 (ten years ago) link

i remember looking at it in shops when i was younger, but in the nineties i didn't really have the budget for manga buying and there was NOTHING at the libraries. i read fuckin elf quest dude, it was the only option.

ian, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 03:50 (ten years ago) link

i remember saving up for months to buy some urusei yatsuro vhs tapes lol

ian, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 03:50 (ten years ago) link

lawl elf quest. i still have my record of lodoss and neon genesis evangelion vhs tapes i used to buy one every two weeks w/my allowance then dvd hit ;_;

i tried to gis some of the illustrations to make my point but the manga is really powerful. i only read it like last year after my bf bought the omnibus editions & was really impressed

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 03:56 (ten years ago) link

i started record of lodoss war but never got to the end. i only saw evangelion through the grace of friends lending me tapes. dvd hitting really did help kill my interest in anime tho srsly, cuz like, those tapes were expensive (like $20?) & often only had two episodes or so per tape.

ian, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 04:04 (ten years ago) link

yah the tapes were pretty expensive and hard to get at least in NH but the dvds were like twice the cost and yah that was exactly what killed my interest in anime for like half a decade. the cool thing about dvd is that i did manage to complete a couple of series on vhs in the late 90s when vhs stock was getting sold off for hella cheap lol cowboy bebop

of course i ended up buying dvd boxsets of anything i really liked once i grew up and had a job

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 04:17 (ten years ago) link

― Cabaret Voltron (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS)

^^ haha i think this is cankles

on reflection akira is awesome

thomp, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 22:51 (ten years ago) link

i remember as a kid i think i'd decided manga/anime were totally awesome based on some abstract sense of what-was-awesome not related to any i'd actually seen, because the only thing i'd actually seen was fist of the north star

thomp, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 22:56 (ten years ago) link

Fist of the North Star IS pretty great. Is there anything else in the same genre that tops it?

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:06 (ten years ago) link

that's def canks. funny considering how today he was going on abt despising anime on the evangelion thread lol.

ian, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:10 (ten years ago) link

lol i despise it because of my intimate familiarity with it... akira still owns pretty hard tho dont get it twisted.

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:18 (ten years ago) link

the comic helped but the film was huge, i remember seeing it with a friend and then afterward the two of us deciding we would get 'tetsuo' and 'kaneda' (sic?) vanity tags (we were fifteen, very very ready to drive, and had heard vanity tags were only like fifteen bucks more and hence couldn't figure out why EVERYONE didn't have vanity tags) and then arguing who whould get what. i haven't seen it since high school so i have no idea how well it's held up but it was huge at the time.

― j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, March 10, 2005 6:15 PM (4 years ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

i love this post

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:19 (ten years ago) link

lol cankles what animes do u like, if any?

still think ian should read the manga ^_^

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:23 (ten years ago) link

FLCL and miyazaki and patlabor, that's about it

there's a lot more good manga than anime imo

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:30 (ten years ago) link

by miyazaki i mean ghibli in general cuz isao takahata brings tha hotness too

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:30 (ten years ago) link

the akira manga is one of the all thyme great comics imo

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:31 (ten years ago) link

agreed

patlabor

hmmm double checked wiki i guess theres a few movies and the "mobile police" series that im familiar with - anything in particular or is it all good?

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:35 (ten years ago) link

it's basically all good. iirc there's two OVAs, a tv series and three movies (i havent seen the third and last movie because i think HEADGEAR had little to do with it) - it's giant robots meets gasoline alley with blue collar protagonists plus a heavy dosage of police procedural shit. mamoru oshii got his start there, and the patlabor 2 movie he directed is basically a direct antecedent of the ghost in the shell movie.

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:38 (ten years ago) link

I wish I'd actually gone ahead and bought the rest of the Dark Horse reprints from earlier in the decade - got the first two then never got around to finishing it. Now I'm basically waiting for the next reprint (whereever, whenever it comes).

Nhex, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 23:58 (ten years ago) link

wow are they out of print already? bummer dude they're ~*amazing*~ too

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:06 (ten years ago) link

they're impossible to find now, but back when marvel/epic was publishing the comic in the 80s they put out a set of hardcover, colorized AKIRA volumes. it was colored on computers and was pretty revolutionary at the time, though it kinda looks like crap now. interesting artifact anyway~

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:09 (ten years ago) link

i remember seeing ghost in the shell in the theater, w/my friend and his dad as 'chaperone'

that was uncomfortable

ovum if you got 'em (gbx), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:10 (ten years ago) link

please tell more of this story!

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:15 (ten years ago) link

oh mostly because dude's parents were pretty conservative, and we had no idea that the first fifteen or whatever minutes would consist of a naked chick running around

ovum if you got 'em (gbx), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:24 (ten years ago) link

nhex kodansha is supposedly going to reprint akira and ghost in the shell this fall under their own imprint

jveggra va pbqr (Lamp), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:25 (ten years ago) link

weird. the titan books ed. (which are the titan books version but with 'titan books' on the spine) appears to still be in print in the uk

mb del rey or tokyopop want to do a nice tankobon size set of them so they can be shelved with everything else

thomp, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:27 (ten years ago) link

xpost oh ok

thomp, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:27 (ten years ago) link

how did conservadad get the idea that a cartoon needed to be chaperoned? this is where general public's obliviousness to anime would come in handy.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:32 (ten years ago) link

because we lived in the country and were 14 and needed a ride into the city

ovum if you got 'em (gbx), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:34 (ten years ago) link

this would be mega-awkward if they showed trailer for bad lieutenant beforehand.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:47 (ten years ago) link

(my recollection is that anime used to play in arthouse theaters that also showed stuff like bad lieutenant)

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 00:49 (ten years ago) link

hmm I wonder if the library has english versions of the akira manga

a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful (dyao), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 01:45 (ten years ago) link

I still haven't finished reading, tbh, because I found a big batch of the Marvel reprints for cheap once and I still need to fill the gaps. And I'd much rather have the colorized versions because they are so pretty. One of the few times you will hear me rep for colorization.

A Foul Night-Weird (Deric W. Haircare), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 02:19 (ten years ago) link

I don't know anything about anime/manga, but does all manga that aims at being taken seriously lead to a grand abstract mystical/spiritual union of everything?

a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful (dyao), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 02:31 (ten years ago) link

ya p much

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 02:50 (ten years ago) link

haha!

Nhex, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 04:15 (ten years ago) link

how can that account for things like Lupin III?

ian, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 05:31 (ten years ago) link

can it really be said that lupin "aims at being taken seriously"?

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 05:43 (ten years ago) link

that's not a dis btw, most of this shit could learn to take itself less seriously

a narwhal done gored my sister nell (cankles), Wednesday, 19 August 2009 05:44 (ten years ago) link

lol no i suppose not, i wasn't thinking of that bit--and certainly i agree that it's a plus when anime doesn't take itself too seriouly. i've lost my tolerance for retarded cosmology and convoluted hierarchies in my shit. i just want laffs n dope animation, maybe a wee bit of the old ultraviolence. which reminds me--watching Akira last night on dvd it was significantly gorier than what i remember from my youth.

ian, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 06:06 (ten years ago) link

"i've lost my tolerance for retarded cosmology and convoluted hierarchies in my shit."
I haven't read/watched that much, but I can't think of anything outside akira that does this sincerely/seriously, but maybe this is because i've never watched most series to the end. tell me dragon ball and lone wolf and cub don't end this way. I can tell you Sanctuary is retarded-cosmology-free, but is full of call for political consciousness being cover for sublimated homosexuality.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:22 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

http://www.threewordphrase.com/embarrassing.jpg

spergliacci (cankles), Wednesday, 4 November 2009 19:39 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

most amazing internet rumour:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/nov/08/zac-efron-akira-shotaro-kaneda

嬰ハ長調 (c sharp major), Monday, 8 November 2010 15:58 (eight years ago) link

This reminds me of the little news-in-briefs you'd get in nerdy magazines of the late 80s and early 90s: Richard Gere to play Blue Beetle! Frank Miller to script new Michael Elphick drama... etc

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 8 November 2010 18:37 (eight years ago) link

oh no...

akira was def the first anime i saw. at some point in the mid 90s me and other teenage friends became very aware of it somehow. is that when it started showing on cable? we totally fetishized it for the gore. ninja scroll too.

another al3x, Monday, 8 November 2010 19:16 (eight years ago) link

i thought i read somewhere dicaprio or frodo baggins had secured the rights to make this a year ago?

Philip Nunez, Monday, 8 November 2010 20:13 (eight years ago) link

are you thinking about Tobey MacGuire's Robotech thing?

kkvgz, Monday, 8 November 2010 21:31 (eight years ago) link

No, DiCaprio's been dying to make this for years now.

lawl elf quest. i still have my record of lodoss and neon genesis evangelion vhs tapes i used to buy one every two weeks w/my allowance then dvd hit ;_;

LOL! This describes my experience as well, Lamp!

Princess TamTam, Monday, 8 November 2010 23:05 (eight years ago) link

Haha, I have a bunch of old anime VHS tapes lying in the shelf too: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Wicked City, Wings of Honneamise (awesome movie, this one), Battle Angel Alita, Dragon Half (funny shit) Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell, etc etc. I don't know why I haven't thrown them away, I haven't owned a video player nor a TV set for years.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 9 November 2010 07:49 (eight years ago) link

three months pass...

First Efron now . . . Franco?

http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/news/a303460/franco-in-talks-for-live-action-akira.html

ENBB, Sunday, 13 February 2011 22:21 (eight years ago) link

eight years pass...

Ok I am finally going to read Domu this weekend

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 6 July 2019 13:11 (one month ago) link


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