Cyberpunk Review » Akira Club

January 15, 2008

Akira Club

Art Book Review By: Ak!mbo

Author: Otomo Katsuhiro

Year: 2007

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very high.

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very high.

Category: Cyberpunk Art Books

Akira Club screen capture


Overview: Akira Club is an art book featuring cover art, sketches and outtakes from the paperback Akira collections. It’s a little pricey at thirty bucks when most the artwork is in black and white, and another set back is the format, which doesn’t match the Akira books. Though mostly presented in black and white, Otomo Katsuhiro’s artwork will blow your socks off. The artwork in Akira Club is incredibly detailed and the author’s commentaries and sketches really show you how much work has been put into the product. While penned many years ago, it doesn’t look a bit outdated. Akira is an epic piece of work at over 2000 pages and has won awards and prestige around the world. The animated movie based on the manga re-introduced the west to Japanese animation in the nineties. The quality of animation mirrors that of the manga and although large parts of the manga were cut from the movie, it still gets the story through to the viewer pretty well.


Akira Club screen capture


Background: The world of Akira is set after world war three and the destruction and rebuilding of Tokyo. Themes include transhumanism, corruption, low life and high tech and Akira comes across as incredibly cyberpunk, mostly focusing on the life of those on the ground in a super industrialized and militaristic Neo Tokyo. The artwork in Akira Club pretty much represents these themes in great detail. There’s a contrast between the giant, symmetrical skyscrapers which dominate the Neo Tokyo skyline and the life on the ground where there are a lot of organic and seemingly random shapes. There’s also a recurring theme of order put in chaos, like the front cover image; smooth motorcycle parts are jumbled together in a giant mess creating disarray where there once was a finely tuned machine, everything put together neatly.


Akira Club screen capture


A lot of the magazine covers show a destroyed Neo Tokyo behind mostly young people. The city being destroyed by a secret weapon created by the government, this gives a pretty strong image of the world being handed over to future generations ruined by our predecessors’ lust for more power through technological advances.


Akira Club screen capture


The Sections: The book is divided into four sections:

  • Section One: The first section collects several full colour paintings of magazine and book covers, T shirt designs and promotional posters, supplemented with preliminary sketches and short comments from the author; Otomo Katsuhiro.
  • Section Two: The second section is the biggest and focuses on the covers used for each chapter when Akira was serialized in Young Magazine. These weren’t included in the paperback collections because they’d break up the natural flow of the story, so having them collected here is kinda nice as the artwork is generally stunning. These do not include comments on the artwork but little musings on life by the author, which I personally found incredibly uninteresting.
  • Section Three: The third section collects all sorts of odd artwork used in advertising and merchandise, there’s a lot of great art, but all in all it’s not as interesting as the last section of the book. Also included here are notes on the translation of Akira.
  • Section Four: The fourth section is probably the coolest out of the whole book, although I wish it were longer. Titled, “Unpublished Works,” it shows panels and scenes that were never included in the finalized Akira comic books, some pages include parts that were included in the serialized version of the comic, but were cut from the paperback collections.


Akira Club screen capture


The Bottom Line: Having “read” through the book, I feel a little let down; it’s like there’s something missing. The artwork, though awe-inspiring, is as noted mostly in black and white, and I feel there could have been more colour illustrations put in to compensate for the large number of cover illustrations from Young Magazine. The last part of the book could also have been a little longer. At two thousand pages, I’m sure there is more unpublished material than on display here. I’d like to see the parts excluded from the paperback collections in better detail, preferably in entirety, as I’m sure others are as well. I’ve only had access to the translated collections and would like to know what I’ve been missing out on.


Akira Club screen capture


Should You Buy It? All in all, Akira Club is really for those with specialized interests, such as rabid Akira fans, anime historians and artists looking for inspiration in cyberpunk drawings of landscapes and dystopic scenarios. And even for these select few, the book isn’t perfect. However, I think of it as a nice addition to my bookshelf and I browse through it regularly, still “Ooh’ing” and “Aah’ing” at the incredible art. I wouldn’t say this is a must for cyberpunk or indeed Akira fans, but if you think you can afford it, it’s a good purchase and a great gift for those already familiar with the universe and story, be that through the manga or the anime version of Akira.


This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Books, Graphic Novels by Mr. Roboto.


January 15, 2008

Mr. No1 said:

Thanks for this review. I did not know about this artbook, and being sort of a fan I shall get a copy from eBay =)

Klaw said:

Nice review Akimbo

January 16, 2008

kenryoku_one said:

Awesome Ak!mbo!

January 26, 2008

HikariMushi said:

Hello, i own this book, actually the publication year is much earlier, i got the book the first time i came to japan in 1995, is amazing, anyone who is a fan of akira or cyberpunk fan should get it. I have been trying to track down some of the items described in the book since then.

January 9, 2010

Chuckii Graves said:

Hello! I’m Chuckii Graves,
I’m impress by your website. I’m not only a hugh fan of “Akira”
I portrayed the character ( Joker) of the clown gang. Mr Otomo
sent me two pages and the cover of the comic book. I’ve been
trying to track down this comic book for a while. I’ll appreciate
if you can send me your email so I can send you copies of my
work and the cover.

Thank You!
Chuckii Graves,

Chuckii Graves said:

Hello! I’m Chuckii Graves,
I’m impress by your website. I’m not only a hugh fan of “Akira”
I portrayed the character ( Joker) of the clown gang.

Chuckii Graves said:

Hello! I’m Chuckii Graves,
I’m impress by your website. I’m not only a hugh fan of “Akira”
I worked with Mr Otomo on the comic book “Akira” as one of
the characters ( Joker ).

Chuckii Graves said:

Hello! I’m Chuckii Graves,
I’m impress by your website. I’m not only a hugh fan of “Akira”
I worked with Mr Otomo on one of his project.

Chuckii Graves said:

Hello! I’m Chuckii Graves,
I’m impress by your website. I’m a hugh fan of ” Akira”.

February 24, 2010

rogers said:

Hello, as you may already found I’m new here.
Hope to get any help from you if I will have any quesitons.
Thanks and good luck everyone! ;)

March 5, 2010

Grasirway said:

The action taken to local and national disasters is great but it’s a damn shame that so many people take advantage of the sad situations.

I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill - there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system. Shame on them!

June 15, 2010

comfort bike said:

A gink begins icy his perceptiveness teeth the first often he bites out more than he can chew.

August 25, 2010

teresa gee Ryu said:

Akira is da first anymation i was watch when i was little….
i think Akira is da only one tells wat is da sf comics like….
it is awesome movie have to watch~~~!!!!!!!

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