If you are in the anime or manga world long enough there are certain series that everyone knows of, but has not necessarily watched or read. Akira is a perfect example of this “phenomenon” of sorts. What I knew about Akira previous to reading the manga for class were two things; the protagonist rode a badass motorcycle and it was very action heavy. And that was about it. But after reading the entire first volume, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Akira and another manga series I have come to adore, Neon Genesis Evangelion, because they have an uncanny amount of similarities.
They both share a setting of a post-apocalyptic world, though instead of an atomic bomb being the cause like in Akira, the catalyst in Neon Genesis Evangelion is referred to as “the second impact,” which was induced by a covered up experiment gone wrong on just one of many “Angels,” alien creatures that destroy without purpose and the main threat in the series. Both series are set in futuristic Tokyo, Japan and have a young male protagonist.
But while on the surface they appear quite similar, there are many factors within each series that do not line up. The first major difference that pops out almost immediately is the art style. Neon Genesis Evangelion was first published at the end of 1994, which is a decent amount of time later than the debut of Akira back in 1982. However, though the artists’ designs are indeed different, I did find some panels in Neon Genesis Evangelion that mirrored elements that Katsuhiro Otomo introduced in Akira.
Akira is known for being an iconic work that has helped shape manga to what it is today and I think Neon Genesis Evangelion is a prime example of that effect. But the main factor I believe sets these two series apart is the stories themselves. I think Neon Genesis Evangelion does a much better job of developing its characters and making me care for their future. In Akira, I found it very difficult to have any interest in the outcome of the multiple deadly action scenes present in the first few chapters. Now to be fair, I haven’t read Akira in its entirety, but just by comparing the first eight or so chapters of each series, I see a wide gap in this particular portion of the plot. And this is one of the main reasons that I would say I prefer Neon Genesis Evangelion over Akira and would therefore recommend the former to a friend rather than the latter.