Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been a long-time fan of Katsuhiro Otomo's AKIRA - that legendary 1988 animated movie which helped introduce the very idea of anime to the United States and the rest of the world as a viable, adult art form.

My first encounters with Akira had been in animation reviews ( I was then a young, aspiring animation student), where praise upon lavish praise was heaped upon it. But try as I might, I could not secure a local copy anywhere (mind you, this was in the Paleozoic Era, when the internet and cell phones were just a nerd's wet dreams.) So when I went to the venerable HMV in Hong Kong and spied an Akira laserdisc (again, the Paleozoic), I immediately pounced upon it like a raptor on a Jurassic Park bit player. Despite the fact that the laserdisc contained no English subtitles and I spoke no Japanese, I  was mesmerized by the story and the animation so much that I was an instant convert to the cult of Akira.

I would learn later on that Akira was originally a serialized manga (later compiled into six hardbound volumes), and like a heroin addict needing his next fix, I simply had to read the original source material. And once again, Hong Kong came to my rescue, where I espied the Akira manga in Page One. In my naiveté, I thought the thick, heavy volume contained the entire ouvré, but as I neared the halfway mark of the graphic novel, I realized that it was merely the first volume of an epic 6-volumes and 2182-pages. But Hong Kong's fabled bookstores could be of no help from this point, and further travels around Asia failed to yield any other volumes of Akira. And so it was that as mammals asserted their dominance and the years crawled into the Mesozoic, the many differences between the original graphic novel and the landmark animated film remained an elusive enigma.

Fast-forward to the Cenozoic - Present Day.

Despite the existence of the internet and PayPal and, it never occurred to me to purchase the entire 6-volume set off the tubes. Maybe because I went haywire with my credit cards in my youth and abused eBay like a red-headed stepchild, or maybe because I just don't like having my sensitive digits floating in the internet cloud. Not even a trip to Tokyo reminded me to resume my quest for the remaining 5 volumes of Akira.

However, as Maleficent so eloquently remarked in Sleeping Beauty: "But see the gracious whim of fate!" Running a couple of errands this morning, I was absent-mindedly browsing through the art and photography sections of NBS, before I sauntered off into the comics section. I haven't read comics since X-Men:101, being merely content to skim websites for updates on the interminable reboots and byzantine story arcs of my favorite characters. Anyway, I looked up from a copy of Blackest Night, and, as SJP says in the video below:

Some six thousand pesos and a Laking National card application later, the Necronomicon Holy Grail was finally, finally in my possession:

I'm so stoked I could just reduce Neo-Tokyo to a smouldering pile of rubble again.

And à-propos of nothing, as we see SJP being whisked away - hopefully to the guillotine - we shall resume La Série Gay Paree next time.


"I had to have it!"


  1. Just to let you know, Akira sums everything I love about Anime. :)

    Too bad, he's a product of a bygone era.

  2. Two things that defined my interest in Japanese animation from a young age: Akira and Studio Ghibli. Both experienced as an impressionable 11-year old high school student. I became obsessed, and my eyes devoured as much animation and manga I could lay my pudgy juvenile hands on. I was never the same.

    I have a dvd copy of the movie, one dubbed in English, another with English subtitles. I can furnish you a copy, if you wish. Unless you're a purist and would rather learn Nihongo. :D

  3. I was never a fan of anime but it's always cute to see you dork out. lol

  4. never saw myself liking manga. dunno why.

  5. @ gillboard : W-what?!?! And here I thought that you, of all people, you who like comics, would be an otaku!!!

    I...I..Iieeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Yameteeeeeee!!!!

    *reduces Neo-Tokyo to rubble*

    @ Nyl : What can I say? I'm just a big ol' dweeb at heart - with a mean right hook.

    @ red : That is so sweet. And how perceptive of you to guess that actually, when I bought the original Akira laserdisc (the one with no subtitles), I promised myself I would learn Nihongo so I could understand the nuances of dialogue and story the way it was originally meant. (Things, as you know, do get lost in translation.)

    Again, fast forward to the Cenozoic, and one VCD, two DVDs (one regular, one special edition), and a torrented version of Akira later, I still can't form a coherent sentence in Nihongo without coming off as an anime character.

    @ Mugen : Well, hel-looo there, stranger. Been a while. Nice to see you again, Joms. ;)

    I know you like Akira like I do because we used to discuss Ghibli and anime years ago hehe. But I'm intrigued by what you mean by a bygone era"? Do you mean the "hand-drawn cel animation era" or "the era when people weren't using CG to death"?

  6. I drop by your blog from time to time. :) Besides, we have the same set of friends, I get to hear about you, in passing from time to time.

    What I meant was, I think the animes before have more depth, have more profound characters than the animes shown today. Besides, with all the animes proliferating on cable/internet, the bombardment of these shows make it appear that those produced today are for mass consumption; run off the mill.

  7. i'm sad that i never really discovered manga. i'm probably of the older generation. more of a marvel mutant fan. should start looking into my nephew's collection - i feel old.

  8. @ Mugen : "... with all the animes proliferating on cable/internet, the bombardment of these shows make it appear that those produced today are for mass consumption; run off the mill."

    Ah. That's what I thought you meant. And yes, a lot of them are run-of-the-mill and commercial, but one happy development post-Akira was the emergence of other anime series that became full-length movies like Cowboy Bebop, Ghost In The Shell, and of course, the Studio Ghibli catalog.

    @ Sean : I'm a big Marvel fanboy, too (DC's just too "meh" for me). But like my taste in humans, I'm an omnivore, so there's space for Western-style comics and Asian-style manga for my consumption.

    As for feeling old, try getting into at least one manga series, and I guarantee you'll be grinning like a child again.