Akira is chock full of exciting and surprising moments. It’s not unusual for you to find things that would blow your mind happening back to back on the same page.
But despite all that, there are still moments that are so great and so important that it influences the progression of the whole story. Events that are so shocking you won’t even see it coming. And these ten are exactly that.
But before we got to that, a fair warning. Please do keep in mind that there are truckloads of SPOILERS up ahead.
Some of them are very crucial to the story that knowing it would practically spoil the whole thing for you. So I advise you to only read the following items after you finish reading the story.
But hey, if you decide to read it despite never even reading Akira before in your life, then good for you. Maybe these spoilers would spark the interest within you and you may decide to read the series afterward. Which is all that I could ever hope for.
Anyway, now that we got that warning out of the way, let’s start recollecting these mind-blowing moments.
1. Old Children
The first surprising moments happened just several pages into the very first chapter in the first volume. When Tetsuo, Kaneda, and their friends encounter one of the esper children.
But although he has the height of a regular child, the face is that of an old man. No, I guess the more appropriate description would be the face of a child that is forced to look old.
The structure of the bones, the jaw, the eyes, the cheeks, and the rest of the anatomy of the head clearly belong to a child. But there are unmistakable wrinkles of an elderly man that cover it all up. Which is why it looks so bizarre.
It is clear that Katsuhiro Otomo purposely drew the characters to look like that to give the readers that creepy feeling. And he succeeded. There will be more old children later on in the series, and all of them look weird as fuck.
This accidental meeting is what sets everything in motion for the whole series. This is what awakened the power within Tetsuo. Had they didn’t meet that night, then none of the events in the saga would have happened.
2. Power Transfer
In the second volume, there’s a time where all three esper children work together to stop Tetsuo from reviving Akira. But since they couldn’t really move properly on their own, they decided to combine their power and work through a medium.
That medium is Kei. The children infused their power into her body, which made her unconscious for a while and then moved her like some kind of marionette.
She suddenly could move things with her mind, teleport into unknown places, becoming invisible, and possess all other supernatural powers from each esper child.
This is surprising because while I did realize that Kei won’t be a damsel-in-distress type of character, I never thought she would be utilized like that.
This event turned Kei from simply a potential love interest for the main character into one of the only people in the series that could stand toe to toe with Tetsuo.
This also opens up another fighting dynamic to the already complex story. A sort of proxy fighter, if you will.
3. Deep Freeze
When Tetsuo found out that Akira had been asleep in a cryogenic chamber deep beneath Neo Tokyo, he forcefully went down there to awaken the child of destruction.
When Akira wakes up, he destroys the chamber which causes the super coolant to bleed into the air and freeze everything and everyone within the vicinity.
This is the first time we see Akira and witness his power. This is such a pivotal moment because while Tetsuo alone is already bad news, Akira is on another level altogether. And by waking up Akira, Tetsuo unlocked an infinite amount of possibilities of where the story would and could go.
At first, I thought the introduction of Akira seemed a tad too soon. After all, we still haven’t even seen the full capabilities of Tetsuo as a villain yet.
I admit that is my shounen brain talking. Because when it comes to a shounen story, we rarely see multiple villains in the same story arc. So it kinda threw me off a bit.
But I couldn’t be more wrong. Just his existence alone, without him needing to do anything, has sparked so much tension and added so much complexity into the story.
4. Laser From The Sky
Unable to do anything to prevent Tetsuo and Akira from leaving the underground secret facility, the military turns to their last trump card. A weapon that sits silently in space, amassing the power of the sun and shooting it to the surface of the earth as a laser beam.
The satellite-like weapon is called SOL. The military has the authority to use it. And they decided to fire it at a kid and a teenage boy.
Unfortunately, it barely makes any dent on Akira. But it does wreck Tetsuo’s left arm along with the surrounding landscape with it. The weapon would make several other appearances in the series, it would even play a key role in the final fights.
As far as a man-made weapon goes, I think SOL is certainly one of the most badass and lethal weapons ever conceived in the history of manga.
5. Big Bang in Tokyo
In the world of Akira, three big bangs happened in Tokyo. The first one happened 30 years before the start of the story. This cataclysmic event is the reason why Neo Tokyo was born.
The last big bang happened near the end of the story. We’ll talk about this one later. And finally, the second one happened right at the end of the third volume and marked the end of the first arc.
The cause of this big bang is the one and only Akira. Although he has turned into a mindless and emotionless embodiment of power, meeting his friends, the esper children, somehow brought back fond memories from deep within the chambers of his heart.
That’s why when one of his friends, Takashi, got shot in the head right in front of him, it triggered a very powerful emotional response from Akira. A sense of shock and dread so strong it makes him lose control of his own power.
And all of those powers are unleashed in the form of a big bang that tears apart the landscape of Neo Tokyo. This is what turned the futuristic city of Neo Tokyo into the barren wasteland of The Great Tokyo Empire.
This big bang is the catalyst that forcefully throws the characters into totally new settings with new kinds of challenges and objectives.
Without it, it would’ve been impossible for Katsuhiro Otomo to move the story forward to where he wants it to be.
This is also a very clever way to mix two different genres together in one story. Thanks to this big bang, we get to enjoy the A.I. tanks from the cyberpunk genre in the first arc and the savage scavengers from the dystopian future genre in the second arc.
This is truly a creation that comes from utter destruction.
6. Falling Skyscrapers
After the big bang that happened at the end of the first arc, there is not only massive destruction happening, but there is also a whole neighborhood getting sucked into another dimension.
The buildings, the vehicles, the people, everything was suddenly gone as the big bang went off.
But when Tetsuo loses control of his power early on in the second arc, he accidentally opens up the bridge that connects to the other dimension. From up above, a massive black hole tearing up the sky, and the skyscrapers start to rain down upon the earth.
This catastrophic event was depicted in a photographic quality by Katsuhiro Otomo. You can feel the scale of this phenomenon through the small panels on the pages. This is definitely one of the greatest marvels that ever happened in a manga.
7. Moon Crater
In order to remind the citizens of the Great Tokyo Empire about the might of Akira, they gathered the people into a rundown stadium and prepared some sort of presentation for them.
For his part, Tetsuo decided to do something simple, adding a new crater to the surface of the moon.
At this point in the story, Tetsuo has a better grasp and control over his power. He flies towards the moon, and minutes later, he destroys its surface until it looks as if a meteor just struck the moon.
Going into this moment, I know they will do something crazy in order to be feared and admired by the starving citizens. But never in my wildest dream would he blast a part of the freaking moon just to showcase his power.
Totally overkill and absolutely badass.
Near the end of the second arc, Tetsuo is getting more desperate in his pursuit of total domination that he begins to awaken some sort of new ability. He can now easily assimilate himself to other non-living materials, such as walls, cables, and even vehicles.
In one of the most epic fight sequences in the series, Tetsuo is confronted by Kei, who’s currently become the medium for the esper child.
The stage is on top of a US Aircraft carrier. At first, the fight is simply a dodgeball of fighter jets using telekinetic energy.
As the battle progressed, Tetsuo began to take control of an airborne jet and fuse himself to it. He becomes some sort of a living bio-plane. The whole sequence is both strange and awesome at the same time.
9. Giant Meat Baby
In the final fighting sequence of the story, Tetsuo is now confronted by several people at the same time. He finds himself having to fight all of them alone without any allies. His state of mind is getting more and more erratic and unstable.
And yet, the power within him keeps getting bigger and bigger. To the point that he no longer has command over his own power.
In order to contain such massive power, he assimilates with his surroundings until he becomes something akin to a giant meat baby.
He grows to the size of a building and looks like a deformed baby with its skin peeled off. It is so freaking grotesque and yet I can’t peel my eyes off it even for a second.
10. Double Big Bangs
As the finishing move for the story, Tetsuo, who currently takes the form of a flayed giant baby, unleashes a big bang upon the remnants of what used to be Tokyo.
To counter that, Akira, who somehow manages to regain his personality at the last moment, unleashes his own big bang to counter Tetsuo’s.
The two big bangs blossom at the same time on top of the dystopian Tokyo, and as intended, they cancel out each other. Katsuhiro Otomo uses a double spread to illustrate the scene and it is quite frankly a bizarre sight to behold. Yet it is also beautiful in its own way.
This event marks the end of both Akira and Tetsuo and needless to say, they manage to go out with a bang, please excuse the pun.
So there you have it, folks. Ten of the most shocking moments in Akira. There are other surprising events and sequences in the story, but I think most readers would agree that this list covers the biggest one of them all.
That being said, it is still my subjective list. So if you have a list of some of the most memorable moments in Akira, one that instantly comes to mind when you think about the story, then please tell me about them in the comment section below.
As mentioned before, this list is meant for those who have read Akira before. But for those of you brave souls who haven’t read Akira before and yet read this spoiler fest of a list anyway, then I salute you. And now, go read the manga already.
Check out the previous article where I talked about why Tetsuo turned evil and other frequently asked questions on Akira. Up next: ten manga you should read if you like Akira.