Akira (franchise)

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Akira logo.svg
Created byKatsuhiro Otomo
Original workAkira (1982-1990)
Films and television
Video game(s)

Akira is a media franchise based on Katsuhiro Otomo's seminal manga, Akira, published from 1982 to 1990. In addition to an anime film and two video games, a live-action feature film has been in development since 2000, and a new anime television series by Otomo continuing the story has also been announced.


Akira creator Otomo posing on a replica of the futuristic motorcycle driven by Kaneda in Akira (2016)

Akira takes place in futurist, cyberpunk "Neo-Tokyo", some decades following the destruction of Tokyo years prior by a massive explosion. A city struggling to prevent crime amid political corruption, the story focuses on Kaneda, the leader of a motorcycle gang, and his friend and fellow member Tetsuo, who is mentally unstable. After a near collision with a child-like Esper, the product of government research to imbibe humans with powerful psychokinetic energies, Tetsuo becomes similarly afflicted. As Tetsuo struggles with controlling his new abilities, Kaneda, desperate to learn more, joins forces with a resistance group, including Kei, a woman he takes interest in. As Tetsuo's abilities start to go out of control, the military, led by Colonel Shikishima, take ultimate actions to try to contain him, wanting to prevent the same destruction as Neo-Tokyo as happened before with the test subject Akira on Tokyo years earlier. Kaneda, Kei, Shikishima, and the other Espers work together to try to help Kaneda come to find peace and end his destructive rampage.



Akira was originally published from 1982 to 1990 in Japan's Young Magazine, ending with over 2000 pages of Otomo's art.[1] It was published serially in the United States Epic Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics, colorizing the black and white manga. The choice to colorize the work helped to popularize Akira in the Western world.[2] Six volumes of collected works were published from 2000 to 2002 by Dark Horse Comics, and in the UK by Titan Books, with the license later transferring to Kodansha Comics.

Anime feature film[edit]

Otomo did not plan on having an animated adaption of Akira, but when the idea was presented to him, he became intrigued, and agreed to allow it as long as he remained in creative control of the film.[3] The film was produced by TMS Entertainment and distributed by Toho across Japan on 16 July 1988; it had limited released in Western countries. When Akira hit home media around 1992, the film got a new resurgence, and since has been recognized as one of the best animated and science fiction films of all time, and is considered a landmark anime.[4]

Video games[edit]

A companion video game to the film was developed by TOSE and distributed by Taito Corporation for personal computers, and released in Japan on 24 December 1988. The game was a text-based adventure game with the text presented over images from the film, with the player decided what action protagonist Kaneda would take. The game received average ratings from Japanese reviewers.[5]

Akira Psycho Ball is a simulated pinball machine video game, featuring elements from the manga and anime, for the PlayStation 2. It was developed by KAZe and released by Bandai on 21 February 2001, with limited release in Europe the following year. The game had generally positive reviews from Japanese reviewers.[6]

Future works[edit]

Live-action film[edit]

Warner Bros. acquired the rights to a live-action Akira film as early as 2002, but since then has had difficulty in getting a project started. Most recently, director Taika Waititi had been set to lead the film for a 2021 release, but that has been put on hold indefinitely as Waititi opted to work on Thor: Love and Thunder first.

Anime television series[edit]

As early as January 2016, a potential television series had been in the planning stages with Otomo's involvement.[7] At the 2019 Anime Expo, Otomo that announced he was working with Sunrise to create a new anime television series that will adapt the manga's story more completely.[8][9]


  1. ^ Brooks, Brad; Tim Pilcher (2005). The Essential Guide to World Comics. London: Collins & Brown. p. 103. ISBN 1-84340-300-5.
  2. ^ Kôsei, Ono (Winter 1996). "Manga Publishing: Trends in the United States". Japanese Book News. The Japan Foundation. 1 (16): 6–7. ISSN 0918-9580.
  3. ^ Hughes, David (2003). Comic Book Movies. Virgin Books. p. 27. ISBN 0-7535-0767-6.
  4. ^ "Akira – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Uk.rottentomatoes.com. Archived from the original on 7 March 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Cross Review". Famicom Tsūshin (in Japanese). Enterbrain, Tokuma (65): 19. 6 January 1989.
  6. ^ プレイステーション2 - AKIRA PSYCHO BALL. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.91. 30 June 2006.
  7. ^ "Akira TV series in development, hints creator". FACT Magazine. Archived from the original on 21 April 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  8. ^ Patches, Matt (5 July 2019). "A new Akira anime is coming to TV". Polygon. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  9. ^ Kade, Leigh (5 July 2019). ""Akira" Manga Creator Announces New Projects". Bleeding Cool News And Rumors. Retrieved 19 August 2019.

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