2030. The world hovers on the brink of World War IV. Kaneda, onetime leader of a delinquent gang, is caught up in the aftermath of a power struggle between a Japanese military research organization--led by a man known only as the Colonel--and a resistance group whose members include Kay, Ryu, and a formidable woman named Chiyoko.
The Colonel had a number of psychic children under his control. Each was identified by a number tattooed on the hand. Among them were Kiyoko and Masaru--Numbers 25 and 27. The blind Lady Miyako--Number 19--was once among their ranks but now heads a great religious cult. Number 41 is Tetsuo, once Kaneda's friend but now his greatest enemy. Tetsuo lost his left arm to a laser blast from the Colonel's military satellite SOL, and has used cybernetics and telekinesis to fabricate for himself a prosthetic replacement.
Most powerful of all the children is Number 28--Akira--a docile and enigmatic boy who was placed in cryogenic sleep almost 40 years ago, after his mental blast started the Third World War. Akira was recently reawakened by Tetsuo, and again he devastated the reconstructed city of Neo-Tokyo. Japan now exists in a state of emergency. The forces of the army and the resistance are scattered, and the military's formidable "caretaker robots" patrol the streets.
In the western part of Neo-Tokyo, the Great Tokyo Empire is formed--a monarchy with Akira on the throne and Tetsuo as his prime minister. Together the pair use their powers, healing the sick, wielding control of the faithful, and organizing their subjects into fighting units to defend their land. To the east, Lady Miyako welcomes refugees to her shrine. In this, she is aided by Kiyoko, Masaru, and a number of loyal, psychic monks.
The Empire is infiltrated by teams of spies and commando units from the outside world, equipped with biochemical armaments which take a tremendous toll on Tetsuo's forces. A fleet of foreign ships waits in Tokyo Bay, poised for action. Aboard an American naval vessel, an international conclave of scientists and one Tibetan monk study the Akira phenomenon--which they've codenamed Juvenile A. One of the scientists--Stanley Simmons--goes ashore without military authorization, hoping desperately to implement a secret plan.
Meanwhile, Lady Miyako, Masaru and Kiyoko convince Kay to join them in the battle against Tetsuo, because Kay is a powerful medium, through whom the others can project their powers and strike as one.
Kaneda, who's teamed up with Kai and Joker--a friend and a rival from his gang days--vows to kill Tetsuo himself rather than let Kay face such danger. He, Kai and Joker launch an assault against Tetsuo, using most of their men, as well as such state-of-the-art weapons as they've salvaged, including laser rifles, flying platforms, and one caretaker robot. At the Olympic Stadium, they find destruction and chaos. Their enemy is already under attack by Kay, the outside forces, and even disloyal subjects of his own empire.
In battle, Tetsuo loses control, and his artificial arm assumes a grossly mutated form. He runs amok, killing anyone who comes too close. His power has grown beyond what his body can contain and is now trying to absorb its surroundings. His body begins to alternate between a normal human form and an immense, uncontrollable, bloated grotesquerie.
Kaori, the girl Tetsuo loves, is murdered by traitors. While Tetsuo is mourning her, he and his followers are attacked by the armed infiltrators. Tetsuo's supporters die horribly, while Akira looks placidly on. Tetsuo, shot by the biochem weapons is enraged, and his enemies, too, die a hideous death.
Ironically, the germs in the weapons affect Tetsuo like a drug, enabling him to reassert mastery over his powers. A duel in the stadium ensues, with Kay and Kaneda using lasers and telekinesis against him. The fight goes on and on, with the advantage shifting time and again. Kaneda sends Kai to safety with Akira, and Kai hands the boy over to another gang member, hoping to find Joker and return to the fray.
Then, the international fleet in the harbor sends fighter planes to rain death upon Neo-Tokyo causing chaos among all the combatants. Akira slips away from his guardians and rejoins Kaneda in the stadium, saying that he's been called by a power from above. The power is an orbiting laser cannon which the admiral of the fleet has ordered fired at the stadium. The laser pauses to recharge just before firing at Tetsuo, and Tetsuo transports himself to space, seizing control of the weapon.
Before the ships can be evacuated, Tetsuo fires the cannon at the fleet. For a finale, he brings the entire satellite crashing down upon the bridge of the flagship where the admiral commands.
The wagons have drawn into circles
rubble strewn plain of Neo-Tokyo, those still surviving forging lines of
to hold off the furies that rail against them all. Aboard an American
fighting men trade ordnance for escape in a desparate attempt to stay
Within the weakening ramparts of her temple, Lady Miyako shelters young
holding the secrets of powers older than time. Beneath the city's
infrastructure, the berserker named Tetsuo struggles to hold himself
against attacks that tear at his body and soul.
A most terrible siege has set in across this metropolis-turned-battlefield. . .and the walls have started to crumble.