April 16


Shelf Life: Explosions underground

At a pivotal moment in Katsuhiro Otomo’s series of graphic novels, AKIRA, a young boy destroys Tokyo. Otomo’s pages spell this out in painful detail, using large, cinematic panels, dramatizing the destruction second-by-second. The boy – an immensely powerful psychic with the ability to convert matter into energy using his mind – screams and hunches over in a pain that is both emotional and physical. The air around him shimmers, turns bright, turns hot. An explosion emanates from him, consuming nearby buildings, crushing them under the torrent of psychic energy. A flash of bright light engulfs the entire city, and much of it is leveled as the boy’s power bursts forth. The panels then zoom out, allowing the reader to see the spectacle from a distance at the moment of detonation. It looks strikingly like an atomic bomb going off.

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