Kanye West is obsessed with the Japanese graphic novel and anime film ‘Akira’, with the manga series serving as inspiration for his best work.
Japanese content, whether in the form of manga, anime, or TV shows, has always served as an inspiration medium for Western artists.
However, it’s always an added bonus for the global manga and anime fan community when one of the world’s greatest artists shares their own love for a series.
This week’s classic 1980s graphic novel series Akira gets shined again by one of the greatest musicians in the world, Kanye West.
Kanye West and the Akira Graphic Novel
In a now-deleted Instagram post reported by Rolling Stone, the rapper said he spent a recent evening playing with his son and reading his graphic novel Akira, in response to Kim Kardashian’s allegations.
However, Kanye West has already made his obsession with the legendary Akira series known, with the Atlanta native repeatedly stating that his work was inspired by Katsuhiro Otomo’s original manga (Japanese graphic novel).
In 2018, West reportedly Tweeter that “Every stage show I’ve worked on Every video, not just Louder every product, even when I was in the hospital, I thought… oh shit, that’s like Akira.”
Following this tweet, West added that “This [Akira] is not only the greatest animation achievement in history, the subject matter is so relevant to the current state of the world.
In the same year, Katsuhiro Otomo, the original creator of the Akira series would be seen in a social network Publish with a pair of West’s signature Yeezy sneakers.
Influencing music videos and fashion
However, Kanye West has drawn inspiration from Akira in various mediums of his work, primarily with music videos and fashion statements.
As many fans of the original series will recognize, the music video for West’s hit song “Stronger” featured Akira-inspired artwork and styling.
From the opening clip to the music video of the machine being a similar reimagining of the original anime to the bicycles used, there are countless references to Akira in Stronger.
Next, at a DONDA listening event in Atlanta, West wore an all-red Akira-inspired outfit, similar to the one worn by the show’s main character.
West also made the scene a chalky white, which again appears to be inspired by a scene in Akira where the all-red MC stood on a sparse, white, chalky landscape.
Watch and read Akira for yourself
Akira is available to read as an original graphic novel in English, but there’s also an anime adaptation for fans to watch online.
English translations were first sold by Random House and Dark Horse outside of Japan, with online retailers stocking the manga including Amazon, Traveling Man, Blackwells, and Forbidden Planet.
An animated film was released in 1988 to fabulous worldwide reception, earning $49 million at the worldwide box office. However, the Akira film’s legacy came from its impact on the new generation of content coming out of Japan, including anime, manga, graphic novels, television series, and video games.
The Akira movie is available online via Netflix and Amazon Prime.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]
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