|Remember that robot and fat chick from
the movie? No? Of course you don't. Read
the damn comic, you loser.
Ever have something you've been meaning to read for a long time? Something that has eluded you, that for whatever reason you've maybe read part of it, but not all of it? For me, that was Akira. About ten years ago I picked up two volumes of Akira (printed at the time by Dark Horse comics) at random because I was going to be teaching a class on "Manga Art", so I wanted some examples of Manga art in my collection.
Having bought these two volumes of Akira I found another piece of Akira at a second-hand store. This wasn't part of the six volume series I was already collecting, but part of a series published earlier by Marvel through their Epic comics imprint. This version was in full colour, and had a different (and in my opinion better) translation than the later Darkhorse reprints.
It was around five years later that I got another volume of the Darkhorse version, and maybe another four years before I got yet another volume. By this time the publisher was Kodansha Comics, but they were still using the same format as Darkhorse for the printing.
As you can imagine (or mathematically calculate) that means up until just a few days ago I still had two volumes (volume 3 and volume 6, specifically) to read of this enormous and seminal Japanese comics work.
And I've finally gotten the last volume and finished my Akira collection. I've finally, after a decade, finished reading this enormous story.
Was it worth it? Welll... ehnn... I guess so.
Volume 3 of Akira was pointless. It was all padding. Maybe this was really obvious because I'd read volume 2 and volume 4 so many times, but very little of importance happens in volume 3. Almost the entirity of its nearly 300 pages is a run-around, with characters chasing back and forth across Neo-Tokyo with very little plot progression at all.
It reminded me of an old Doctor Who serial in that way.
Volume 6 on the other hand was... kinda up its own arse. The cliffhanger for volume 5 was so awesome, and promised so much, but the pickup at the start of volume 6 really didn't deliver. Once again, I'm starting to think of old Doctor Who serials for some reason.
So I guess the question then is, was it worth the wait? Well... no, not really. I was pretty excited to get the volumes, but after so long how could they possibly live up to expectations? I should have read the whole thing all in one go really. Ahhh well, hindsight and all that.
Would I recommend Akira to someone who hasn't read it? Yes. Totally. If you're a fan of comics Akira is an amazingly worthwhile work. Definitely pick it up. If you can try to get the old Epic Comics volumes, which were digitally coloured and translated over at Marvel Comics. They're... better. The differences in the translation aren't that huge, but the Marvel Comics versions read a little more smoothly. Of course they're also going to be a lot harder to find and a lot more expensive. I myself only have one volume of the Marvel version.
At least I've read the whole thing now!
(For the record, I don't usually use the term 'Manga', to me comics are comics are comics, it doesn't matter where they're from.)