Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira helped pave the way for modern anime when the adapted film debuted in 1988, not only in Japan but internationally. It was one of the most ambitious animated movies of its time due to the level of detail and the scope of its story. The futurist, cyberpunk film is set in 2019 and explores the lives of two young men, Kaneda and Tetsuo. These two friends live in a decimate Tokyo's remains after a mysterious singularity destroyed the city in 1988. What remains is a city filled to the brim with gangs, corruption and terrorism known as Neo-Tokyo.
After a motorcycle accident involving an esper -- a person who has telekinetic abilities -- Tetsuo develops his powers, causing him to become targeted by the government. The movie and manga follow Tetsuo, Kaneda and their motorcycle gang as they race through the streets of Neo-Tokyo, trying to avoid being caught and overcoming hardships, old and new. The movie has a cult following because of its sci-fi atmosphere, animation quality and gripping story. Here are a few ways you can legally see what is considered one of the best anime movies ever made and read its source material.
How to Read the Akira Manga
Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million have the Akira manga -- which ran from 1982-1990 and includes six volumes -- available for around $21.99 per volume, and Amazon has listings for the same price. For those who don't mind buying used books, Thriftbooks has copies available starting at $17.99 and up to the standard $21.99, depending on the condition. It's also worth checking your local comic book shop to see if they carry the manga or if they could order it for you. A 35th Anniversary Box Set of the manga was made and is listed on Rightstufanime for $150.00.
Unfortunately for those who prefer digital copies, none of the usual digital options have the manga available. Hopefully, this will change in the future, but it looks like the only way to read it is to buy the physical volumes.
How to Watch the Akira Movie
Hulu has the remastered version of the movie available on its platform, with both the dub and sub available. Akira is also available through Funimation's streaming service with various DVD and Blu-ray options too -- ranging from $18.74-$44.99 depending on the version. Netflix also has the film, but only on their Japanese server with no English subs. Similarly, Amazon Japan has Akira on their Prime Video service, with the HD version rentable for around $3.00. Unfortunately, it's only in Japanese with no English sub. Vudu offers the movie for rental and purchase for about $2.99, and iTunes has it for approximately $9.99.
Physical copies of the movie are available from Amazon, with the 4K+Blu-ray edition running about $60.00 without Prime and $37.99 with Prime. The regular 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition is about $15.00, and the DVD is about $24.98 without Prime and $14.99 with Prime. The 2011 edition of the DVD is $11.74, but this particular version is region-locked, so unless you have a Japanese DVD player, it's unlikely to play on any of your devices. There's even a VHS copy available for $25.99 -- so, time to dig out that old VCR.