Review by Atom
Written and illustrated by the very talented Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira the manga was originally published in serialized form in Young Magazine from 1982 to 1990. Akira the feature film was released in 1988 in Japan and was written and directed by Otomo himself two years before the manga was concluded.
The film saw a limited release in the States from late 1988 throughout 1989 and was hailed by critics and audiences as groundbreaking and innovative. It was its subsequent release on home video that propelled the film and manga to cult-like status.
Over 20 years later, it is considered by most to be one the quintessential science fiction stories of the last 20 plus years, and Katsuhiro Otomo's work on Akira is credited with reshaping modern anime and manga. Akira, quite simply, is a Classic with a capital ‘C’.
Akira is set in the near future 30 years after an unusual explosion goes off in Tokyo, leveling the city and triggering World War III. The central story focuses on Kaneda and Tetsuo, two childhood friends that now ride in a motorcycle gang on the streets of Neo-Tokyo. Early in the story, Tetsuo encounters a strange boy during a motorcycle chase leaving him catatonic. Tetsuo and the boy are retrieved by the military and we learn as the story unfolds that he has been pulled into a secret experiment to awaken latent psychic power. Kaneda, concerned for his friend, gets pulled into events that will reshape their world dramatically once again.
To give away more of the story is to ruin the joy of experiencing it for yourself. If you haven't seen Akira, you should. If you have seen it, well you don't need me reiterating the entire plot to you so on to the toy review!
Kanada on his motorcycle is probably the most iconic anime image in both the Western or Eastern hemispheres, so when I started seeing pictures of Project BM! 1/6 Kaneda and his bike, of course, I was way interested, but who the hell is Project BM!?
"Project BM!" stands for B for Bandai and M for Medicom Toys, with the 2 companies producing Projects together. Well, this is the first of the fruits of their efforts, a 1/6 Shotaro Kaneda. It's pretty much a higher-end Real Action Hero.
The box is the usual Japanese packaging: window box with lid, held in place with Velcro. What is a step above the norm is the print quality on the box. The whole thing is done on a satin finish with super high gloss images over that. The effect is subtle, but elegant.
When you open the lid, a die-cut AKIRA logo over the window greets you. Rather sharp-looking packing.
Inside, it's a vacuum-formed tray holding the figure, and all his parts and pieces neatly in place. In addition to the Kaneda figure, you also get a generous amount of accessories...
- RAH clear figure stand
- Beam Cannon
- Battery Pack
- Alternate head (wearing goggles)
- Spare hands
The Kaneda figure stands 12 inches tall and features over 40 points of articulation. From what I can make out online, this is Medicom Toys' 301 Real Action Hero body modified to keep proportions anime accurate. What the difference is between the standard body and this release I am really not sure. It looks good though, that's for sure.
Sculpt detail is subtle, yet effective, really capturing the look of Kaneda from the source material.
Spare hands and the spare head pop on and off with ease, making switching around accessories a snap.
Costume detail and craftsmanship are excellent. Elastic in the sleeves keep them pushed up where they should be, and the clasps on the front of the jacket actually work to hold the front flap in place.
Kaneda's jacket back seems based on Manga illustrations, and not the Anime, as this release features the phrase, "Good for health, bad for education" around the image of the pill, which only appears in the Manga.
The included beam cannon and battery pack feature a generous amount of sculpted and painted detail.
The scope actually flips out on the cannon, and clear colored plastic on the end of the barrel creates the effect of the beam about to fire.
When Kaneda jumps on his bike, he usually dons a pair of goggles. Medicom included a spare head, equally as detailed as the first head. The goggles are not removable.
While Kaneda is pretty sweet what you all really want to see is how the figure looks on the bike...
...which we will look at in just a few days.
Comments17 comments posted
Now, normally with 1/6 scale figures I can take or leave them. But the fact that they made a bike for this makes this a must-get if you are going to get the bike.
Can't wait to see the bike review!
it might be just cause im bitter that i cant afford this figure (let alone the bike! just look at those ebay links...), but his body proportions are those of a toddler with an oversized head and small dainty body. i remember in the film yeah he was still a teenager, but he was taller and stronger than the others in the gang. also his clothes seems to be a bit ill fitting, especially the pants. not that i was looking at his butt or anything. seriously. not gay.
anyway, his head and accessories are sculpted incredibly well, and translate well from the film and manga. that laser is epic awesome! although hes prohibitively expensive (for me), i still dont think i would buy this if i could afford it.
Medicom has always been more about the fact that it's a figure of something nobody else made, rather than it's a good figure for the money.
The scale they use is that of a Japanese man, so they are smaller than other 1/6 figures. Normally it wasn't that big a deal, since up until a few years ago Medicom's stuff was the only game in town outside of custom or micro studio released figures, so there wasn't another version to compare it to. Once people started to see a Sideshow Star Wars guy next to a Medicom guy it was clear something was off.
Medicom is also famous for lousy heads on their figures. They take the old approach of the head being molded in the color of the flesh tone they want, then only painting the eyes and hair. This makes the head look like a Ken doll compared to the fully-painted heads on products from the likes of Hot Toys and Sideshow.(even though Sideshow can't sculpt a proper likeness at all). The sculpt is usually pretty good on Medicom, but the paint job does it a disservice.
The loose clothes issue is something that's always been part of the 1/6 primary problems. You just can't make clothing in a smaller scale and have it look good. The actual material has to be scaled down as well, otherwise it looks like the guy is wearing a shirt made out of canvas. Some companies use a micro-fiber process for the clothes, making them very thin and more realistic in appearance, but simulating leather is pretty tough since it starts to become like rubber. I can't fault Medicom on that, it's something the 1/6 industry still hasn't fully tackled, so they just did the easy thing and made it loose.
There was a release of a 1/6 Kaneda, Tetsuo, and a Laser Soldier from Medicom about 10+ years ago. They were some tiny show exclusive that was all the rage at the time, and they were sold as a set for some un-Godly sum. Oddly enough this Kaneda looks exactly like that release. Leading me to wonder if people are buying a reproduction of a ten year old figure. Time for some detective work to track down those old pics of them.
As far as Akira goes, I'll admit I never saw the reason it was in such high regard. It's boring, the movie cut out a ton of the great scenes in the manga, and the character you were supposed to connect with (Tetsuo) was made the villain and this hump was some kind of hero that had to take him down. In truth the only part of the movie that was cool was the bike.
^^^Somebody has actually stated at Mediworld that Kaneda is painted unlike most Medi figs.
Also, Sideshow has some good sculpts, but horrid paint apps. Anything sculpted by the great Trevor Grove for example is phenomenal with repaints (they need new painters). Here's just a few repaints.
It's because you're bitter Astro ;)
I compared the photos here pretty heavily to my manga copy.
It looks on point to me.
If I'm not broke, I'll buy Shotaro Kaneda, the AKIRA bike and Tetsuo Shima.
Nothing personal here, but I don't need this Kaneda toy nor his toy bike b/c I'm capable of creating them on my own in accordance to my own specs.
Nice presentation by the way, but I'll pass on this. I got the DVD movie & the manga & that's as far as I'm gonna go with this franchise.
^I'm not denying that you can make one, but I'm curious to see if you have any links to your work.
Sounds like you guys are upset that you either can't find them for cheap, or can't afford it to begin with.
I side with Rodimus78 on this one- I have the manga and the DVD and have had a few toys in the 90's- but I don't need this. I am glad to see Bandai+Medicom team up on more figures though...
I can't find any real flaw with this toy that you guys are complaining about. The bike+figure is awesome and like Hot Toys Dark Knight Batmobile, it's expensive and I think the hate is all about wanting one/can't afford it.
Obviously Duke's comments seem more about "AKIRA" in general than this specific figure. Why the hate man? Did Akira steal your girlfriend? Beat you out for a promotion at work?
Even if you can't get behind the movie, the manga is still amazing. I hear what you're talking about with the character's role reversal in the film, but after I watched it again recently it's more of a situation where if you're not paying close attention (just like the manga!) you miss how picked on and defeated Tetsuo is, and how much of a prick Kaneda is. I know it's something "everyone likes" but that's no reason to get so negative on it.
I've had no problems with any of the Medicom figures I've owned. Again they are smaller scale (japanese company = japanese man base, duh?), but that only matters really if you're collecting the Star Wars line, or are one of those "it must be exactly 1 to six scale" guys, and then, you're not buying Medicom to begin with, you're buying mostly custom hand-made stuff at that point as most companies (especially Sideshow and Hot Toys) aren't doing *exactly* 1:6 scale product anyway.
And this set is amazing. It's expensive and has cross over appeal (1:6 collectors will get it, as will sci-fi fans, so it will sell fast as do most Akira high-end merchandise) - if you're into Akira then start saving!
Yeah, the thing with Akira for me is that Akira's just a dystopian, socio-politico, Japanese arthouse cyberpunk story with a beginning, middle, and an end. That's it--story's over. It's incredibly serious to the core of the viewer's conscience. It's saying "This is what's happening around you or might happen or could happen. Now move on and do something important for yourself and your fellow man before it get's funked up."
It's the same thing as I feel about Watchmen, Kubrick Flicks, Asimov's Robots Novels, Planet of the Apes, Twilight Zone, & Gilliam flicks, etc. It's not as franchise-driven as Star Wars, Star Trek, Macross, & Gundam, etc. The idea of exploiting this Akira thing as a "fast-food moneymaking machine" is just compromising the integrity of the story that Otomo was saying.
Nicely put... even the franchise examples you mention all have major themes and overtones that directly contrast with the merchandising blitzes that followed their releases. It always fascinated me how different in tone the 1st Gundam series is compared to all the others which followed after the model kit success.
I laughed so hard when they announced Watchmen Action Figures. It's pretty obvious that DC Direct didn't even actually read the book, where they even directly lampoon the very idea of Watchmen toys.
You know, I never really even thought about how Akira toys are somewhat contrary to the themes and idea of the story. The irony of this toy's high price high quality doll of a poor street gang member character. With other comics and movies it often comes to mind, but I never really thought about Akira that way. And Kaneda is always the one who gets the cool action figure. There aren't very many Tetsudo toys, despite being the main character of the story. The McFarlane one I had back in the day was trash.
Even if DC & WB read the book, they wouldn't understand it, but they understand it's strong appeal so they exploited it, abused it, & compromised it as a means to an end just for sake of promoting their absolute power. That's why the best of artists w/ the strongest integrity became outcasts so they won't be further victims of creative compromises, but anyway...about McFarlane:
Yuck, I loathe McFarlane figures. I owned 2 Manga Spawn figs, Samurai Spawn & Mecha-Freak to serve as Robeasts to fight with my Trendmasters Voltron Chogokin toy. & the funking limbs broke off! I should've bought the B.B. Beetleborg transforming Beetle Bot & Toys'R'Us in 1999 cause that was cool and diecast.
If only those 2 crappy Manga Spawn figs were $25 each, I would've probably never bought them & just make them my own.
Lucky for me, I got no interest in buying Kaneda's bike from McFarlane Toys, nor the MEDICON version which blows McFarlane Toys straight to hell... literally.
Funny you mention that, I found a McFarlane Kaneda and Tetsuo figures at some small flea market sci fi/anime/comic store, complete MIB. I have it standing on my table and... its alright. Its more of a stand up figure and thats all for its time.
I actually still like the Metal Gear Solid 2 toys that came out, and I was pissed when I found that McFarlane wasnt going to do the Metal Gear Solid 3 series, and if i wanted a figure i would (at that time) have to pay uber money for a Kubrick figure which went way more than what i could afford. So far the only MGS3 figure i have is The Boss from the Toys R Us exclusive Metal Gear Solid Collection they have right now. Hopefully ill find a Raiden one, even though he doesnt pose he is still sweet looking to stand up on your table for a measly 13 some bucks with tax.
"Funny you mention that, I found a McFarlane Kaneda and Tetsuo figures at some small flea market sci fi/anime/comic store, complete MIB. I have it standing on my table and... its alright. Its more of a stand up figure and thats all for its time."
Literally that's the whole point of what those so-called McFarlane toys are made for; they're made to stand & not play. Todd should've called his business 'McFarlane Collectibles' and left the 'toy' thing out.
Only the bike is worth the cost. Medicom's Kaneda figure is not worth the $200 it is going for at most places. $200! It's a relatively simple figure in its construction compared to the outstanding figures produced by Hot Toys which cost a good amount less or pack in way more accessories at an equal price. Not to mention HT is currently leading the 1\6 market in quality of sculpt, tailoring, paint application, and consistency. It's so frustrating knowing that for the same price that I bought this figure for, I could get a Hot Toys DX Joker or Batman or a towering T600 Endoskeleton or Appleseed Briareos for less.
That's not to say Ive always been content with HT's pricing. I paid $250 for their Golgo 13 Duke Togo, but at least that figure was an extremely limited exclusive.
Back to Kaneda -- I can see how one could be impressed with Medicom's work on his outfit at a glance, but upon closer inspection, the tailoring is not impressive. First off, at this price, the jacket should have a zipper, even if merely for appearance. The jacket employs two hooks to keep the front closed, which is fine, but it doesn't keep those silver "clasps" in place. Those clasps don't keep the front lining of the jacket together.
Also, the materials feel cheap. It is really thin vinyl that I fear will dry over time. The stitching around the crotch area of his pants seem like they'll go at any moment I move his legs. On the bright side, I do like the soft, flexible boots and although it sounds like I'm picking the outfit apart, I quite like the way hey look. Just don't touch him and it'll be fine. On a tangential note, I wished Medicom had sculpted the second head with a different expression.
Again, it sounds like I'm eviscerating this figure, but I do like him as the compliment to the bike, but alone he's underwhelming. I know Medicom's previous Kaneda figure (from 10 years ago) is going for a cold 3 grand on eBay, and in that sense I should be happy to be able to buy a much-desired grail for a fraction of that cost, but $200 is not pocket change.
The bike is fantastic. Id like to comment on it, but I'll hold off until the review for it goes up. In short, Bandai, as one part of Project BM, really fulfilled their side of the work.
This figure is awesome.
Though yes, it is outrageously priced.
I'm broke but I still managed to buy both Shotaro Kaneda and the bike. Tetsuo's next!