Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

Of course, if you made it to the Open Mic, you already know what I've been re-reading.

I read a lot of memoirs in graphic novel form, and that is not what Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira is.

For all that made it groundbreaking in the 1980s (one of the first manga to be translated into English), volume one of Akira is also a throwback. The sound effects leap off the page like the old Batman live action tv show. The set-up is classic comic: young men, apparently still in school but independently resourceful enough to operate a drug dealing motorcycle gang, stumble their way into an adventure that unfolds slowly enough for them to figure out most of what's going on without any of main characters coming to serious harm.

Fandom has given a lot of attention to how numbing the violence becomes in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire (and especially the novels after Game of Thrones). And while it's true (for me, at least) that I find it annoyingly disengaging to see Martin kill off major characters just as the readers have gotten to know them well enough to become attached, I also find it ridiculous to see multiple characters survive a dozen close calls within the span of a few hundred panels.

Because of this disinterest in the plot, I've never gotten around to buying volume two of Akira. But on re-reading, I found enough to like that I'm reconsidering my position. Especially in Otomo's framing and shading, and most especially in his speed lines, I find a lot to hold my attention on each page.

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