Revisiting the Art of Akira Part I – Akira Animation Archives

Posted By yonghow on March 2nd, 2009

Now that the dust is finally settling after the much anticipated release of Otomo Katsuhiro’s Akira on Blu-ray last week, I figured it was a fitting time to revisit the amazing artwork behind the anime masterpiece, not least for those jumping on the hi-def bandwagon and will be watching the film for the first time ever ( the expression “living under a rock” comes to mind; at least they’ll be in for one heck of a treat. ), but also a recap of sorts for the rest of us Akira fans, some harmless indulgence, if you will.

The Akira Animation Archives contains the most comprehensive collection of “behind the scenes” artwork from the animation film ( for artwork on the manga series, watch out for part II ), from concept sketches, in depth character sheets, background art, layout boards, mecha design, the works. Indeed, this book wasn’t published till late 2002, almost 15 years after the film’s release.

(above) The more than generous helpings of character sheets in the book are a sheer delight to look at, not to mention excellent reference material.

(above) Same goes for the layout boards. Trivia : Tetsuo’s haunting metamorphosis scene at the end of the film was mostly animated by the incredibly talented Tatsuyuki Tanaka – Does Cannabis Works or Tojin Kit ring a bell ?

(above) Akira has undoubtedly some of the most astounding background art I’ve ever seen. ( also see this older post on the Kazuo Oga background Art Exhibition. ) Stunning as they are, the background plates never overpower the performance of the entire scene, a true testament of the artists’ ability to determine the exact amount of detail required. (below) More than you can eat mecha designs and specs.

“Akira Animation Archives” Art book details :

– Dimensions – 11.3 x 11.1 x 0.9 inches
– 178 pages, hardcover
– full color / black and white

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25 Responses to “Revisiting the Art of Akira Part I – Akira Animation Archives”


man, i so remember this movie! lurves it, yet not a movie u bring home to mama!!!
kaneda’s bike first inspired me to WANT a custom “hog”!!! and cloud in advent children is still pushing that dream strong!!!
i dream of a racing bike like kanedas, w/ the wheels and horse-powah of the fenrir!!!

Tim Maughan

Ahhhh! Thanks for the mention man, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer for the review – due to stock problems the BR hasn’t been released here in the UK yet – and even though I’ve got a copy coming from the US it won’t be here for a week or so. Rest assured, you’ll be the first person I’ll tell when the review is done!

This book is fantastic – I manages to track down a copy for Al T when I was in Tokyo in November, and I wish I’d managed to find one for myself too. Well worth the purchase. Am curious as to what ever Akira Art books you’ve got lined up for us on here….Akira Club, perhaps? 😉

João Paulo Rosman

WOW incredible… I need to get one of those

Tim Maughan

Oops – just read the last line – missed that – Akira Club it is! Great book, looking forward to your article on it…


Just sweat. And the sad part is that I don’t have the originals either…


Enrique – Haha, that’s right, there’s nothing like a bike that can reverse.

Tim – :] We’ll be waiting patiently !

João Paulo Rosman – You won’t regret it. :]

toro – Originals…do you mean there are fake versions of this book in circulation ?


No. I mean I don’t have a paper version of Akira. I will probably order it this year.


Awesome- have to get this book. I have book two of one of the story boards to the movie. Good stuff.

Great blog by the way- so Glad I found it.


Harry D.

Being a huge fan I thought I knew Akira pretty well, until I watched the BluRay version and discovered so many tiny details in the artwork. And it still hits me as hard as it did when it first came out.

Toro: Get the Manga version as fast as you can, a world will open for you 🙂


toro – Just as Harry D. has suggested, do check out the manga too !

sam – Thanks for the kind words ! I’m subscribing to your blog’s rss too ! :]

Harry D. – Argh ! I’m so envious ! I’m still hoping for Amazon to lower the price because at $29.99 its still a little steep for me. Any noteworthy extras on the disc, and how is the booklet ?


That insane level of detail in Akira just blows me away every time.

Harry D.

The things I love about the Blue Ray version are the crispness/detail of the picture and the great sound. And those two are enough for me 🙂

What I like less are the fact that there are black bars around the frame, they don’t make use of the full screen, and the lack of extra’s. Only the trailers and storyboard drawings are on the Blue Ray, the Special Edition DVD version had more in that regard. Maybe they will come out with a Blue Ray special edition, you never know 🙂

The Booklet is ok, explanation of the conversion progress etc.


Dawn – Yes indeed, I can spend hours studying the intricate drawings !

Harry D. – Thanks for the information ! I’ve heard about the black bars in a bluray forum, guess I’ll have to see for myself just how bad it is when I get my copy.

Tim Maughan

My review – finally up!:


Tim – Cheers, I’ve updated the link on the post above.


ive collect the comic and seen the film twice.. its awesome. katsuhiro otomo’s work always inspired me… i wonder is he doing all comic by himself?

savage house

the the Akira club book the same as this one?


How many pages of background art is there?


Johnny – Sorry I don’t have a copy readily on hand to check, but I think about 10 pages or so ? Not a lot, so far as I remember.


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