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17 Best Akira Anime Characters You Should Know

Hey everyone, Akira, is not just a passing anime; it’s a classic creation with memorable characters that has managed to etch itself into the memories of fans. 

Despite originating in the 1980s, Akira remains remarkably highly-rated even in the present day. What’s intriguing is that the anime was directed by the same person who wrote the original Akira manga. Such a dual role is quite a rarity in the world of adapting manga to movies.

Akira’s story is set Japan in 1988, a time when a young boy with psychic powers sets off an explosion that devastates Tokyo and triggers the onset of World War III. Subsequently captured and seemingly disappeared, his tale takes an unexpected turn in the year 2019. This leads us to Neo-Tokyo, a reimagined city marred by gang conflicts and government opposition.

At the center of this turmoil is Shoutarou Kaneda, the leader of “the Capsules,” a group known for their distinctive motorcycles and perpetual clashes with their rivals, “the Clowns.”

In the midst of one such clash, Shoutarou’s closest friend, Tetsuo Shima, becomes entangled in a life-changing incident involving an esper who has escaped government confinement. This collision triggers Tetsuo’s own mysterious abilities, which become increasingly formidable. Meanwhile, the government seeks to contain this newly empowered psychic, fearing the unimaginable destruction he might unleash upon the city once again.

Although Akira takes the form of a movie adapted from the manga of the same name, we’ve managed to compile a list of the best characters from Akira that you should really know about. 

17. Kaori

akira characters

Kaori is a young girl who enters the story later on. She’s brought into Tetsuo’s circle as one of his captives for his own desires, but things change. Eventually, he genuinely cares for her. Kaori also ends up taking care of Akira. Sadly, she gets shot in the back by the Captain. Tetsuo tries to bring her back to life, but he’s not successful.

16. The Captain 

the captain akira

One of the most cunning akira characters is The Captain, an opportunist, who pretends to be a hardcore follower of Tetsuo and becomes his right-hand person. Secretly, though, he wants control over the Great Tokyo Empire. Even though he’s scheming, he has moments of compassion.

He actually asks Tetsuo not to harm the young women he’s gotten for him because they still have families. During the clash between Tetsuo and the U.S. Marines, he gets caught in the middle and dies from Yamada’s use of bacterial gas.

15. The Birdman 

characters in akira

In Akira, The Birdman is one of Tetsuo’s top psychic soldier characters. He’s often perched on high spots, wearing a blindfold. He keeps an eye on what’s happening within the Empire’s territory, basically acting as a security system.

He’s thought to have powers that let him sense things from far away, which is symbolized by the eye drawn on his forehead. He’s also got telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Birdman’s life ends when Yamada knocks him off his perch, leading to his death.

14. The Eggplant man

akira manga characters

The Eggplant man is part of Tetsuo’s psychic troops. He’s described as a chubby, short guy with glasses. He crosses paths with Yamada and the Marines at the Olympic Stadium. He used to be friends with Birdman. He tries to use his telekinesis to crush a Marine’s heart, but Yamada takes him out before he can do anything.

13. Lieutenant Yamada 

yamada from akira

Lieutenant Yamada, also known as George Yamada, is a Japanese-American soldier. He’s sent on a mission to take out Akira and Tetsuo during the latter part of the story, once Neo-Tokyo has been destroyed by Akira. Yamada’s plan involves using poisoned darts.

Later on, he gets a group of U.S. Marines to help him carry out the mission at the Olympic Stadium, which has turned into the headquarters for Akira and Tetsuo’s Great Tokyo Empire. Unfortunately, the poison doesn’t hurt Tetsuo but instead gives him temporary control over his growing powers again. As a result, Tetsuo ends up killing Yamada.

12. Lady Miyako

lady miyako

Lady Miyako used to be called No.19 back when she was part of experiments. She’s got these special abilities, like being able to predict the future and read minds. When things get intense with Tetsuo in the end, she even shows off some telekinesis.

Now, she’s the high priestess at a temple in Neo-Tokyo and ends up becoming a big ally to Kaneda and Kei as the story goes on. At first, she’s on Nezu’s side too and gives Tetsuo a talk about his powers. When it all comes down to the final showdown with Tetsuo, Lady Miyako is one of the best Akira female anime characters, as she plays a huge role even though it costs her life.

After she’s gone, she still manages to communicate with Kaneda. Kaneda had been swallowed up by Tetsuo before, but he somehow ends up in this place that’s “beyond this world.”

11. Joker

joker from akira

One of the notable characters in Akira is Joker. He heads up the Clowns, a biker gang composed of drug users and addicts. Joker’s role starts off minor but gains significance later in the narrative, aligning himself with Kaneda and Kai as an ally. He’s recognizable by his clown makeup, which he frequently changes in style.

10. Chiyoko

female akira anime characters

In Akira, Chiyoko is definitely one of those tough and badass female characters who wouldn’t hesitate to go up against a bunch of guys. She’s got this imposing height, strength, and skills with weapons which mk her a powerful woman you should not mess with. She’s a key part of the Resistance and fights alongside them.

 There’s this whole thing where they say she serves as Kei’s aunt or mother, but some fans believe that might just be a cover she’s using for something else.

9. Nezu

villain akira characters

Nezu in Akira is a villain character who serves as a member of the opposition in the parliament. He also holds the role of leading a terrorist resistance movement against the government. At first, it appears that he mentors Kei and Ryu and portrays himself as a savior fighting against the corrupt bureaucrats in charge. However, it becomes clear that Nezu is equally corrupt and his true intention is to seize power for himself.

As the story unfolds, Nezu’s betrayal becomes evident. He turns against Lady Miyako and various other characters as he aims to gain control of Akira. When he loses Akira, he discovers Ryu with the young boy. Nezu wrongly believes Ryu is affiliated with Lady Miyako’s group and tries to kill him.

8. Takashi

takashi from akira

One of the best characters in Akira is Takashi. He’s the very first Esper introduced, and he triggers Tetsuo’s accident while defending himself. Takashi has the special ability to control things with his mind (psychokinesis), and he can communicate with other psychics using his thoughts.

Takashi comes across as a quiet and gentle boy. He’s torn between his feelings about the government and the people who gave them shelter. That’s why he escaped from the Colonel’s facility. However, he worries about Kiyoko’s safety, which makes him decide to stay.

Tragically, Takashi ends up accidentally being killed by Nezu. Nezu was trying to assassinate Akira, but his actions led to Takashi’s death instead. This event leaves a deep psychological impact, and it’s what causes Akira to unleash his immense powers and destroy Neo-Tokyo.

7. Akira

akira from akira

Akira is popular main character in the Akira anime and manga, which are named after him. He possesses incredible psychic abilities, even though he looks like a small, regular child on the outside. He’s the reason why Tokyo was destroyed and World War III began.

After the war, he was put into a frozen state not too far from the big hole he caused, which later became the site for the Neo-Tokyo Olympic Games. When Tetsuo wakes him up, Akira ends up destroying Neo-Tokyo when Kaneda and the Colonel’s forces clash. As the story goes on, he becomes the Emperor of the Great Tokyo Empire.

When he first shows up, Akira hasn’t aged even though he was frozen for many years. But inside, he’s like an empty shell. His psychic powers have taken over and wiped out his own personality. This leaves him rarely speaking or reacting, and he always has a blank look on his face.

Eventually, he gets shot by Ryu while psychically linked to the increasingly unstable Tetsuo. In this moment, he reunites with his friends and gets back his own personality.

6. Ryu

ryu akira

Ryu, a standout character in Akira, is portrayed as a fellow member of the resistance movement alongside Kei. In teh story, Ryu undergoes a transformation, distancing himself from his militant beginnings and turning into a more heroic character. He collaborates with Yamada and assists Kaneda in finding the location where Tetsuo is keeping Akira imprisoned. However, his struggle with alcoholism adds complexity to his journey.

In the end, Ryu faces a difficult decision as he reluctantly shoots and seemingly “ends” Akira’s life to prevent the release of his immense power. Tragically, he meets his demise shortly after when he was fataly smashed by a falling elevator.

5. Yamagata 

yamagata

Yamagata, a key member of Kaneda’s gang, occupying the role of Kaneda’s right-hand man. Despite being the same age as Kaneda, Yamagata appeared more robust and taller, fitting the stereotypical image of a tough motorcycle enthusiast associated with a rebellious lifestyle.

Yamagata was known for his confrontational and combative demeanor, and he met his end due to Tetsuo’s extraordinary abilities in the first volume. This happened while he tried to shoot Tetsuo, after Kaneda, unable to take Tetsuo’s life, lost hold of his weapon.

4. The Colonel 

the colonel-akira

The Colonel, aka Shikishima or Taisa serves as the leader of a covert government initiative focused on studying individuals with psychic abilities, a group that includes the Esper children, Tetsuo, and previously Akira.

Regardless of his initial portrayal as a potential adversary, the Colonel proves himself to be an honorable and devoted military officer, driven by a deep commitment to safeguarding Neo-Tokyo against any potential reemergence of Akira’s power. 

3. Kai

kai

Next up, among the most iconic Akira character is Kai, sometimes known as Kaisuke, he is a high-ranking member of Kaneda’s gang. He does not play a major role at first, but becomes more prominent later in the story.

An anti-government activist, Kei joins forces with Kaneda and others to stop Tetsuo. She possesses a strong will and resourcefulness.

2. Tetsuo Shima

akira protagonists

One of the protagonists of Akira anime is Tetsuo, Kaneda’s childhood friend, who gains psychic abilities after a motorcycle accident. His powers grow uncontrollably, Kaneda’s best friend since preschool and the second principal subject of the story’s theme. Tetsuo is shown as a black sheep in the gang he and Kaneda are part of, and quietly suffers from a deeply rooted inferiority complex.

He admires his friend yet at the same time strongly resents his own reliance upon him. After his psychokinetic abilities manifest, Tetsuo quickly becomes Kaneda’s nemesis; he desires Kaneda’s motorcycle (a symbol of status and power), and seeks to prove himself supremely powerful, without need of protection. leading to his transformation into a destructive force.

1. Kaneda Shotaro

akira main character

Kaneda is serving as the main character of Akira anime and manga, he is a carefree gang-leader who boasts a custom-modified motorcycle. He and Tetsuo have been best friends since early childhood. He is brash and not above teasing Tetsuo despite feeling affection for him as a younger brother.

Upon rescuing Kei, Kaneda becomes involved in the activities of her group of anti-government guerillas in hopes of locating Tetsuo.

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