Forbes conducted an interview with Katsuhiro Otomo, the writer, director, and artist most known for creating the iconic manga/anime Akira. Here he touches on subjects including his career, identifiable artstyle, and approach to mech design, particularly the inspiration for the legendary bike featured by Kaneda, protagonist of both the manga and the film.
Otomo firstly speaks on his early childhood and fixation with manga, which followed through to high school, where his interest in filmmaking and illustrating professionally began. He then delves into how he got his big break in Tokyo and begun illustrations on his first manga The Little Match Girl. Having a deep love for science fiction, Otomo says he sought to create a manga dedicated to the genre at a time where the market was saturated in gekiga and sports manga. That was when he created Domu, a manga seen as a spiritual predecessor to Akira for its similar premise of children possessing extrasensory powers.
When asked about his frequent collaborator Takashi Watabe and his possible assistance in designing Kaneda’s bike, Otomo cleared things up by saying “In terms of Kaneda’s bike in Akira, the initial inspiration was the lightcycles from Tron designed by Syd Mead. However, they are wide, so I halved them and used that as an initial basis.”
Otomo goes further in-depth by explaining how the other bikes and vehicles were designed by Koji Morimoto and Kiyomi Tanaka, respectively. “A lot of the mech design was from the original manga though, which I did. However, things like the complex inner parts of Akira’s cryogenic pod were done by Watabe.”
Click here for the full interview.