Whether you are a casual reader or a veteran manga enthusiast, you have to read Akira at least once before you die. But unlike other popular titles, Akira only available in the physical format.
When I write this article, there’s no digital version available anywhere. If they are ever pop up in the future, let me know in the comment section below so that I could revise this post accordingly.
So for beginners and casual readers who prefer to read manga digitally, well, you might have to consider the physical release for this one. For the enthusiast, however, the currently available version of Akira is a collector’s dream.
But before we get into the actual buying guide and recommendation, let’s briefly look at several different versions of Akira first, particularly the ones that were and are published in the US.
Different versions of Akira
Looking back, there have been several major publications of Akira since the 1980s. The first one is with Epic Comics in the late 1980s, then with Dark Horse Comics in the early 2000s, and finally by Kodansha Comics from 2009 to 2011.
In this article, I would only talk about the version by Epic Comics and Kodansha because there’s not much difference between the Dark Horse and Kodansha version of Akira.
Especially since Kodansha release Akira in the boxset format in 2017, there are really no reasons to talk about the Dark Horse version any longer.
Akira Epic Comics full-colored edition
A brief history of Akira full-colored version
In 1988, while the manga was nearing its ending, it was decided that there will be a special release for the US market by Epic Comics, an imprint of Marvel Comics.
To garner a broader appeal, Katsuhiro Otomo decided to flip the pages so that it would be more familiar to the US readers. He also asks a colorist, Steve Oliff, to color the manga specifically for this release.
The result is a 38-issue full-colored version of Akira that ended its run in 1995, a mere five years after the original ended. The original plan was for it to be collected into thirteen paperbacks and six hardcovers.
But for some reason, they only collect the issues into ten paperbacks and five hardcovers. What’s worse, there seems to be no plan to complete the collection. So if you like this version, you have to be content with an unfinished story.
That’s why I’m not recommending this version to anyone.
Other than because the collected version is incomplete, it’s also because I prefer manga that closely resembles the original version. Not a fan of flipped pages.
That being said, I do realize that there’s a value in how different it is from any other version in the market. So here’s what you can do if you want to get your hands on this version.
Buying guide for Akira full-colored version
Since this version is no longer being published, you could only found it as pre-owned books. I recommend regularly checking on the listing from eBay for this.
But please beware, it could fetch for quite a high price. A Redditor manages to grab the five hardcovers volume of this version for a whopping $1400. That’s $280 per volume of used and incomplete version. Damn!
On the other hand, some people might simply buy it just to flip it again. Hustling with the limited edition of Akira. Good for you.
Anyway, if you choose to go down this road, there are two ways you could go about it. You could either get the whole 38-issues of the original publication or get the five hardcovers and complete the rest of the story with the last eight of the original issues.
Both are valid options. But once again, there’s no telling how much you would need to spend when going through with this route. Not only that, you won’t even know when each format would be available for sale.
If you like this version, then you’d have to be vigilant and keep a close eye on any new listings on eBay or any other used books marketplace.
Kodansha’s Akira 35th Anniversary boxset
A brief history of Akira 35th Anniversary boxset
From 2000 to 2002, Dark Horse Comics published another version of Akira in the US. This time, they decided to use the same page format as the original Japanese manga, instead of the flipped one like from Epic. And just like the Japanese version, this one was also published in six paperback volumes.
From 2009 to 2011, Kodansha Comics, a subsidiary of Kodansha Japan, the original publisher of Akira, published the series yet again. This version, however, is quite similar to the one published by Dark Horse, almost a decade before.
But they didn’t stop there. To commemorate the 35 years after Akira’s first debut in Japan, Kodansha release the “Akira 35th Anniversary Boxset”.
It was largely similar to the previous Kodansha’s release, only this time, all six volumes come in beautiful hardcovers with an equally gorgeous dust jacket, with equally dazzling box.
Other than the main volumes, there is also a patch featuring the art of the iconic drugs seen in the manga, and there’s also a book called Akira Club.
Akira Club is Katsuhiro Otomo’s artbook containing his illustrations, character designs, handwritten notes, and other cool stuff that was taken during the creation of Akira.
Buying guide for Akira 35th Anniversary boxset
Ever since it was first introduced back in 2017, this boxset has been the preferred edition to anyone who wishes to own Akira. Not only that, when it comes to manga boxset, this one has also always featured in anyone “must-have” list.
The box itself is quite sturdy and well-designed. All the volumes look and feel very well-crafted. And while I don’t particularly care about the patch, I love the inclusion of the Artbook.
I think this boxset is reasonably priced and since there seems to be a steady amount of stock available, I don’t think the price would fluctuate that much.
So all in all, if you want to have the manga Akira, I am absolutely recommending this definitive edition.
Kodansha listed three official online merchants on its official website, so those are where I will point you if you want to buy this boxset. All of them offer it at the same price point, so you can get it from any one of them.
So, first up is Amazon. The great thing about Amazon is its fast delivery. Of course, it depends on where you live, but more often than not, Amazon is the first one to arrive. But, they also sometimes quite rough in handling the package, so expect dents here and there. Click here to take you to the Amazon listing.
Next is RightStuffAnime. As the name suggests, this company is specialized in anything related to anime and manga. The speed may be average, but they generally have better packaging than Amazon. Click here to see the RightStuffAnime listing of Akira.
The last one is Barnes & Noble. I never order manga from this company so I can’t comment anything in terms of the quality of their services. But from what I gather through the internet, they seem quite decent. Click here to go to the Barnes & Noble listing.
Those are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a small bonus if you decided to purchase this boxset through those links, at no additional cost to you.
Well, there you go. I hope this brief article could help you secure your copy of Akira sooner rather than later.
More things could be said when it comes to purchasing Akira, but I want this post to be clear and concise, so I decided to simply give you the information that I think you should definitely know before buying.
This is the last out of five featured articles on Akira. Or you could also click here to see the previous article where I talk about the Art in Akira. Also read, top 12 manga box sets you should have in your collection and different versions of Dragon Ball and which one should you choose.