The year is 2030. The world is rebuilding from World War III. In Neo-Tokyo, plans are being made to hold the next Olympics in the "old city"--where, thirty-eight years before, the first of the bombs fell.
Kaneda and his friends--teenage delinquents from the local vocational school--have made an unauthorized motorcycle run into the old city to check out the site and found far more than they expected. In an area said to be totally deserted, they encounter a strange, wizen-faced child known only as Number 26. He is terrified of something and is possessed of extraordinary telekinetic abilities. During the encounter, the paranormal boy gravely injures Tetsuo, one of Kaneda's close friends. Then, he vanishes.
Kaneda's gang find themselves in trouble with the authorities following the incident, and learn, to their surprise, that the "police" they encountered after the incident were not normal officers, but part of some secret concern. Moreover, Tetsuo, who they believed had been taken to a hospital, has disappeared.
The next night, at Harukiya, a tough local dive, Kaneda brazenly attempts to pick up Kay, a strange girl who catches his fancy. Kay, however, is not interested. In fact, she and her companion, Ryu, are part of an underground resistance organization, dedicated to learning what is happening in the old city and putting a stop to it.
During the mayhem that ensues, both the delinquents and resistance fighters again encounter Number 26, and again he uses his powers, to catastrophic effect. Both groups are scattered, but first Ryu and then Kaneda re-encounter Number 26. Ryu attempts to reassure the paranormal boy, but Kaneda is anxious to punish him for injuring Tetsuo.
As they argue, the mysterious soldiers pursuing Number 26 reach the scene, armed and ready.
As earth recovers from World War III, strange new events are shaping in Neo-Tokyo. A pursuit has begun. Its object is a wizened face child with incredible telekinetic powers and the mark Number 26 on his palm. He holds clues to something prized and feared. Something or someone called...AKIRA. Two pursuers are the mysterious girl, Kay, and her companion, Ryu. Opposing them are troops of a secret government force. Swept along is the rebellious young motorcylcle gang leader, Kaneda. Attracted to Kay and angry with Number 26 for the injury of a friend, Kaneda becomes part of the violent cat-and-mouse game which leads into the city's sewer system and a showdown with two new players...The Colonel and Masaru, Number 27.