Akira, Vol. 2 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I guess a lot of what I wrote in my review of the first volume of Akira is applicable here: it’s something technological and dirty; something full of speed and movement, yet manages to not advance the story particularly far.
(Well, that’s not entirely true. The story told here hints at Bigger Consequences Yet To Come, even though the whole volume is essentially one lengthy chase sequence.)
That’s right: this is pretty much the story of how Kaneda and Kei race Tetsuo to where Akira’s kept in deep-freeze. There’s some mental earthquakes and some gifted-child abuse along the way – as well as some Colonel arse-kicking – but it’s about the quest for Akira. What is it? What will happen when Akira is uncovered, is brought to light?
(In this volume? Not much. But in the future? Oh, I see a lot of corruption. A lot.)
There is a lot less of the teenage gangster stuff in this volume, but there is a lot more bro-vs-bro tension: Kaneda and Tetsuo are in competition, even if they don’t actually share a whole lot of face-time in the volume. Again, it’s a feeling of heightened stakes that pervades the story here – that what’s happening now will have calamitous effects in a little while.
As ever, the artwork is superb, going from super detailed to sparse depending on what’s happening. Fine elements show up when they’re needed, and the thing rushes onwards. There’s enough quality work here to be lost in, even if the narrative appears to be taking its sweet time to get somewhere in a properly festina lente kind of approach to storytelling.
Still, I’m enjoying the ride. There’s a feeling of darkness here that’s both horrifying and enticing, and I hope the tension lasts. Let’s see.