Akira was written in the ’80s, but the story is set in the year 2019. If you have yet to read Akira, it’s interesting to read something that is based on the time period in which we are currently living. To see how someone envisioned the future, which was not too long ago our present, and how it compares to the current state of the world, makes it only that much more enjoyable than it already is to explore. It ranks among my top futuristic manga and stands as one of the most influential series ever published.

I highly recommend Akira. Not only is it way ahead of its time, but it is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. If you’ve already seen the film, but have yet to read the series there’s a lot more content, which wasn’t included in the adaptation, to dive into in the manga. And if you have yet to see the movie, I recommend checking out the Akira limited edition set that was released at the end of last year, so you can watch it in either Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD format. 

Over 35 years later, Akira continues to have a strong impact on the world as a series that has not only influenced the anime and manga industry, but art, streetwear, design, and more as well. Akira has been released in many different formats over the years, including paperback releases, movie adaptation, and more.

In honor of its iconic history, Kodansha released the Akira manga box set, a special edition set of hardcover volumes and extras celebrating the 35th anniversary of Akira. How is it unique from other Akira manga releases and is it worth picking up? Find out below!

I’ve also included our unboxing and review of the Akira box set video from our YouTube channel at the bottom of the post. In that video, we flip through Volume 1 and take a look inside the Akira Club art book as well!

Akira Manga English release.
Akira English releases. Image Credit: Anime Collective

How is the Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set unique from other Akira manga releases?

Akira’s manga, which was created by Katsuhiro Otomo, was originally released in the ’80s. Since then, it received a new paperback release in the 2000s and a 35th Anniversary Box Set that was released first in 2017 and was reissued for a second run in 2020. The box set not only comes with six hardcover volumes of Akira, which completes the series, but it also comes with the hardcover Akira Club art book and an exclusive patch featuring the pill design.

The biggest and most obvious difference between the paperback and box set volume formats is that the volumes included in the box set are hardcover. Barnes and Noble also released a special hardcover edition of Akira, but they only released Volume 1, so while this edition looked great, you can’t complete the whole series like you can with the paperback and box set releases.

Another unique thing about the box set volumes is that their slipcovers feature the same cover art as seen on the English paperbacks, but their overall design and style all-around is nearly the same as the Japanese release. They also feature different art on the volume cover’s themselves, so they look great with the slipcovers off as well.

In what I assume was an attempt to make the paperbacks more appealing to Western audiences, they read left to right. But the Box Set volumes are printed in the original right-to-left reading format. This is the first time this has been done for an English release of Akira.

And finally, these volumes are unique because, unlike the other English releases of Akira, the sound effects were left untranslated, so the original, hand-drawn sound effects are included with the Box Set volumes.

Original hand-drawn sound effects in Akira hardcovers.
Original hand-drawn sound effects in Akira hardcovers. Image Credit: Anime Collective

The sound effects aren’t translated on the pages, but there is a reference guide at the back of the volumes

As mentioned above, unlike its paperback counterparts, the hardcover volumes included in the box set chose to not translate the sound effects. This is something that may be seen as a negative by some, but I love that they did this, because it features the original, hand-drawn sound effects by Katsuhiro Otomo.

The only sound effects that have been replaced with English translations are those that were typed. In the back of the volumes, there is a guide that gives you the translations of the hand-drawn sound effects, so if you are curious, you can always reference this when needed.

Back of Akira Box Set.
Back of Akira Box Set. Credit: Anime Collective

The hardcovers read in the original right-to-left reading format

If you are a comic book reader, you may prefer the fact that the paperback volumes read left to right. But as a manga reader, I couldn’t be happier that an English release finally came out in the original right-to-left reading format.

It comes with the Akira Club art book and an exclusive patch

The fact that the Akira Club art book comes in this box set is a huge plus. The book contains over 100 title-page illustrations created for the original series that were never published. It also features rarely-seen alternate art, preliminary drawings, production sketches, and a variety of Akira posters, advertisements, and products, along with commentary by Katsuhiro Otomo. 

This art book shows how Akira influenced designs in everything from advertising to streetwear, while also giving you a behind-the-scenes look into how the series was conceived and created. It’s a fantastic companion book and a wonderful collective piece as well.

In addition, you get an exclusive iron-on patch that features the iconic pill design. Since this box set comes with these two additions as well as the six hardcover volumes, it’s an even greater value for its price.

Akira hardcovers without slipcovers.
Akira hardcovers without slipcovers. Image Credit: Anime Collective

The quality you get with the Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set is amazing

The volumes feel amazing in hand and I really love the look of the pages, which are printed on high-quality paper. There is an eye, so the binding is flexible, which makes all of the panels easy to see and read throughout the volumes.

The look of volumes with and without their slipcovers is great as well. I love the different designs and art you see on both, and they look awesome no matter how you choose to display them. When you open up each volume, there are a few colored pages, which is a nice addition. I particularly love the montage pieces, which contain moments and memorable scenes from each Volume.

Apart from the few opening pages, which are in color, the remainder of the pages are in black and white. While it would be awesome if it were in full color, I still love the look of the black-and-white pages.

As it stands, this is the best way to collect Akira’s manga. Not only is it a high-quality, collective box set that celebrates the series, but it offers one of the best reading experiences as well.

It only costs you a bit more to get the Box Set than it does to complete the paperbacks

At the time of writing this post, you can find the Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set for $149.99 USD on sites while supplies last, which brings each volume to around $25 USD and that’s not even including the extra items you get with the box set, the Akira Club art book and the exclusive patch. If you were to buy all six of the Akira paperbacks at their current prices on Right Stuf, they would cost you approximately $121 USD.

With that said, the box set is only around $28.99 USD more expensive to purchase. Since the volumes in the box set are of much higher quality and are hardcover, and it comes with extras, it’s a great value for what you get.

Inside the Akira Manga Box Set.
Inside the Akira Manga Box Set. Image Credit: Anime Collective

Final Verdict: Is the Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set worth it?

Yes, it definitely is. I highly recommend this box set. It’s only marginally more expensive than the paperback volumes would cost you, and it’s the best way that’s currently out in the market to complete Akira’s manga. The extras you get are an added bonus, but the look and feel of the hardcover volumes are what set it apart.

Where to buy Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set

You can check out the Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set and get an inside look at Volume 1 and the Akira Club art book in the video below!

Akira 35th Anniversary Box Set Unboxing & Review Video

Looking for more high-quality manga box sets like this one? Check out the best manga box sets your money can buy!