Review by Woodrow Phoenix
In book two of Katsuhiro Ōtomo’s now-legendary cyberpunk SF saga, the unthinkable happened. Tetsuo forged a trail of destruction all the way to the underground bunker at Ground Zero and awakened the sleeping Akira from his decades-long hibernation. The Colonel makes a desperate last attempt to obliterate the two boys before they can act by using the biggest weapon under his control: an orbiting military satellite called SOL. He activates its laser cannon and targets them from space, but only succeeds in wounding Tetsuo.
Book three is one massive wave of rising tension as everyone braces themselves for what’s coming next. Kaneda and Kei manage to rescue Akira in the chaos from the laser blast, and hide out in the home of Chiyoko, a woman loyal to the resistance with a formidable presence as physical as the Colonel himself. Although Akira has been awakened, the child doesn’t seem fully conscious after so many years asleep and his power is still dormant. Lady Miyako hopes they can bring Akira to her before his powers are activated, but the politician Nezu, one of her ring of accolytes who has links to the Colonel and the ruling council, has his own ideas.
Ōtomo keeps the action moving in a near-frantic sequence of chases, reversals and betrayals with the city locked down under martial law as everyone tries to find Akira for their own reasons and Kei, Kaneda and Chiyoko try to hang onto him. A new trio of psychic girls enter the fray with powers almost as impressive as the Colonel’s three test subjects. But these three are working for Lady Miyako. Which side will win? And meanwhile, there is one other very significant question that remains to be answered: where is Tetsuo?
Akira continues to be awesomely impressive in every area of storytelling with brilliant ideas, a compelling cast, and a narrative composed of masterful set-pieces beautifully executed. This volume builds to an ending even bigger in scope than the previous book and Ōtomo’s massively detailed drawings are staggering to look at. How can he possibly keep this up? Where can he take this story next? You’ll find out as soon as you open Book Four.