Every week people mail me asking about AKIRA. In order to help everyone who has questions this page is aimed at giving you the answers. However I'm not a superior authority on the subject so others' contributions to this section will be appreciated. The page will focus on not only the story and its themes but logistical information surrounding it too- such as the range of merchandise, its availability and so on. More sections shall be added all the time as new subjects arise so stay tuned.
Buying AKIRA the ANIME
Q Where can I buy the film? A The most asked question ^__^ There is quite a lot to say about this so it ought to be separated into a number of subjects (see below). UK VHS Editions in the shops, Buying Online, DVD, Video CD/Laserdisc People ask me in a brief e-mail without giving me their locations. I can't possibly help anyone outside the UK as I have no knowledge of the particular stores which might have it! What follows is info on the UK editions. UK- Akira is now a deleted title; it came out in the early 90's and has had a reasonable stint on the shelves- especially as far as anime is concerned. However, many individual shops still have it in stock- and not just the specialist Comic Book and Sci-Fi places. I have found it in Virgin, HMV, MVC and other big High Street video shops but not every shop in the country will have it. Despite its 'rare' status it is still reasonably priced (around £12-15, Dub) and I've also seen it in 'sales' priced around £8. The Special Edition (Widescreen, Subtitled) is harder to come by and is in the region of £20; still this is a good price considering it is a double cassette which has the film screened in its original ratio and language and includes the 55 minute Production Report. Buying Online- This part is mainly for International buyers, or for those who prefer mail order. The most common Akira vid I've found for sale via search engines has been the US dub- and the one most requested. I can recommend the auction site Ebay because a lot of merchandise goes up for sale every day from sellers all over the world. Find rare items here! Also, try using 'Comparrison Shop' sites to find Akira items generally My Simon (eg Media--->Comic Books) Pricegrabbers (Movies--->Science Fiction/Fantasy) have had good results in locating online businesses that have items to sell. I've found these two places online, but haven't bought from here; Science Fiction Continuum: Buy USA Akira sub, and letterbox version here Asian Mall: Buy Akira T-Shirts here- 8 designs If anyone can recommend others from experience- let me know. With the re-release of Akira in the US, almost all of the 'old' VHS tapes will have been replaced with the new ones. This means that you should have no trouble obtaining copies in most 'media entertainment' stores, especially as it's been enjoying a place in the charts.
DVD- Loads of people want the Akira DVD and it's just had an official release in English in the US. The only previously available version was a Hong Kong one which had both Cantonese and English subtitles. AKIRA has come back for a revival- heralded by the reprint of the English language manga by Darkhorse. There have also been cinema screenings of the film (in the US over Spring 2001). See the AKIRA DVD page for comprehensive information. See the above paragraph for info on where to buy it.
Video CD / Laserdisc-
The Akira video CD and Laserdisc have been a popular medium for the film as it is good quality, similar to DVD. Released around 1993 on a few different labels, including the Criterion Collection, some versions came with glossy posters/booklets, and 2/4 discs. (See Merchandise Page for pictures and more info) As far as buying a copy goes- I don't know of shops that sell it as I haven't looked, but I can recommend searching Ebay.com under the search heading 'Akira'. Every time I've looked there someone has it for sale, and the asking prices are quite reasonable. This is the best place to find the rarer editions- but if you're from out- side the USA, be prepared to spend more for International P&P.
Q On your site you have pictures and information on so many items. Where can I buy them?
A Many of the items I've listed are generally unavailable to buy in shops. Much of the merchandise was released prior to, or during the release of the comic and movie; 1982 and 1988 respectively. Shops will not have brand new items to sell because they are no longer manufactured, and what was made, sold out over the years. You are most likely to find Akira goods on online auctions- which is where half of my souces have come from. Auctions don't just have second-hand merchandise for sale, but new items too. The 'media' types such as videos, DVDs and music are most common. I can't direct you to a single site or store- we all have to hunt for the items, and that's half the fun ^__^ If anyone does know of a reliable outlet in any country, please let me know.
Hey Tetsuo! I know all these questions you have must be doing your head in, don't worry- I'll do my best to answer them ^__^
THE AKIRA MOVIE
A lot of people have a lot of questions regarding the Akira movie, and rightly so. The film has numerous complex storylines and a lot of information is put across in a realatively short space (considering the volume of the manga). If you watch it several times many of your questions will be answered as you pick up on what is happening, but here are some interesting questions posed to me via emails and forum threads. Questions about Espers: Q What is Akira and what caused the big explosion?
A Akira is an 8 year old boy who has strong, destructive mental powers. These powers are natural to him as he's an 'evolved being'. It is implied every human will posess psychic abilities in man's natural evolution. Akira caused the big explosion in Tokyo although the government believed it to be a nuclear bomb from an enemy state.
Q What are these 'numbers' given to people all about?
A Every child that showed signs of psychic ability was taken to 'The Nursery', a secret government hospital where tests were conducted to discover more about this condition. Those who demonstrated the most ability were given a number as ID. Many of 'The Numbers' died during testing but some survived, we ones we see in the movie are the last survivors: Kiyoko #25, Takashi #26, Masaru #27, Akira #28, Tetsuo #41 and Lady Miyako #19 who is the oldest surviving 'Esper' (presented as the white-robed Monk with big black hair). I suggest you read the AKIRA Manga for more detailed insights.
Q What's up with the fat kid's wheelchair? Why did he have it? At one point of his life he could walk. A Masaru (Wheelchair Kid) was crippled by Polio when he was a child which is why he scuds around in a wheelchair. He levitates it with his mental powers which is very useful for getting up curbs.
Q Why was Kiyoko in that glass bubble-bed? She could survive without it. I first thought it was some kind of oxygen-tent but probably not. A I don't know why Kiyoko is in the bubble bed. Perhaps it is to stop her getting hit on the head while Takashi plays football in the nursery!
Q The little turquoise kid (the one that screamed down the buildings). Why did he escape from the medical place? All of the kids need drugs it seems, so it would be foolish to leave the only place that specializes in those drugs. But let's say he was naive and just escaped for no good reason. Then why, when Tetsuo crashed into the nursery, did the turquoise kid and the other two seem to work well together? A The Turquoise esper, Takashi, was kidnapped from the instituation by the resistance. He did not necessarily leave of his own will. The resistance believed him to be Akira, the most powerful Esper child and wanted to free him from government captivity. Takashi joined the other two child espers Masaru and Kiyoko (turquoise girl) because he was best friends with them and he couldn't survive out by himself. That's why they fought well in a group.
Q The kids are around 40 years old. Do the drugs prevent them from mental maturity? They still act like kids, but switch from being scared of blood to then make mature and ultimate decisions by throwing themselves into the end vortex as self sacrifice! A I would assume the drugs did withhold their mental development somewhat as well as their physical development. The drugs are intended to stop the growth of their power otherwise they'd end up as powerful/destructive as Akira himself. Since their power is mental, it would make sense to assume all their minds were surpressed from growing.
Q That girl, Kay, is she psychic too? Kiyoko did posses her quite a number of times but towards the end it seems as if she is acting on her own. Why would Kiyoko go through so much trouble- controlling her to such an extreme (teleporting her, commanding her body, throw psychic waves towards Tetsuo) if Kay already had this power? A Kay acted as a conduit through which the espers could focus their energies. Their bodies were too weak so they took hers. I understand what you say about Kay seemingly having powers herself- I think that this is true to an extent- the Espers awakened these powers inherant in her. While in prison with Kaneda (the main chara in red leathers), Kay explains that all humans have such potential. She goes on about people using a minute part of their brain power, so maybe her power came from her newfound ability to use more of her brain?
Q Testsuo blew up/swallowed himself through the fabric of space and there was only a glimmer of light left of him. If this is what happened to him, one would only be safe to assume that this is what happened to Akira. Soooooooo, how did the scientists collect those vital specimens/samples from Akira's body? A Akira was killed by the scientists and his vital organs kept for future generations of scientists to continue tests on him because they didn't have the technology/ knowledge to fully analyse him. The image we see of Akira in the movie is akin to his 'spirit'.
Q The resistance-movement seemed to have a fair deal of knowledge about the Akira project, so why did they 1) kidnap Takashi? Did they not understand that Espers needed medicine to prevent chaotic development? 2) Why did they not know that that kid was not Akira when Akira was the one who blew up Tokyo some forty years ago? It boggles me that they can be equally knowledgable as they are clueless. A The resistance movement was controlled by Nezu- the council member who was playing both sides. He obviously didn't know, or at least didn't pass on the info about the drugs to the resistance. Akira may have caused the initial explosion in Tokyo, but that doesn't necessarily mean they would have known what he looked like. The general public (which is what you can class the resistance as) was under the impression that the explosion was a nuclear bomb from another country- that's what started the war. However, others were a little knowledgable about Akira (fringe groups/religious sects) but they still didn't know what he looked like- wouldn't they have painted murals of him if they worshipped him?
Q Was there a second motive for project Akira? Was it only to research the Espers or did that research have a second agenda (like isolating psychic functions and implenting them on soldiers, etc)? A The motive I could understand would be to discover the cause for the esper's power- the government tried to harness that power too (to quote the Colonel). That is motive enough.
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