2030. The world hovers on the brink of World War IV. Kaneda, one-time 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 marked on the hand. Among them were Kiyoko and Masaru, Numbers 25 and 27. The blind Lady Miyako--Number 19 now heads a great religious cult. Number 41 is Tetsuo, who lost his arm to a laser blast from the Colonel's military satellite SOL, and has used cybernetics and telekinesis to fabricate a prosthetic replacement. Tetsuo was Kaneda's dearest friend until he used his burgeoning powers to slaughter other members of their gang. Now, Kaneda is out for revenge.
Most powerful of all the children is Number 28--Akira--a docile and enigmatic boy who was placed in cryogenic sleep almost forty years ago, when, with a mental blast, he started the Third World War. He 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, organizing their subjects into fighting units to defend their land. Their headquarters is Neo-Tokyo's Olympic Stadium. 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 to implement a secret plan. The research team is certain that using military force against Akira and Tetsuo will only lead to disaster.
Meanwhile, Kay joins Miyako's forces in battle against Tetsuo, because Kay is a powerful medium, through whom the others can project their powers and strike as one. Tetsuo's powers have grown erratic. His body frequently bloats and expands, engulfing those who venture too close. The loss of control has grown worse since the murder of his gentle girlfriend, Kaori.
Kaneda teams up with Kai and Joker--a friend and a rival from his gang days. Using salvaged weapons the trio lead a force of refugees and street rats to help Kay in her battle with Tetsuo. As they fight, Akira looks placidly on.
Then, the international fleet in the bay sends fighter planes to rain death upon Neo-Tokyo, causing chaos among all the combatants. Enraged, Tetsuo teleports himself to space, seizing control of the orbiting laser cannon. He fires the weapon at the fleet, and then brings it crashing down upon the flagship, killing the commanders and forcing a mass evacuation of military personnel and the few scientists who survive.
Inland, Kay's friends and supporters are scattered, some of them badly injured. The Colonel, crippled by the strike, aids Kay, as Miyako re-establishes her psychic bond with the girl. On the return to earth, Tetsuo finds Kaori's body. Using his telepathic powers, he is able to contact the soul of his lost love, but he can only reach her spirit for a brief, painful moment. Griefstricken, he carries her underground to the cryogenic chamber where Akira once slept. Drawn by the similarity of their powers, Akira follows Tetsuo.
Along the way, he is joined by Kaneda, Joker, Chiyoko and Ryu. They prepare to make a stand in the bowels of the earth, where many of their comrades died.
Power is the name of the game of
and God help any lost soul who gets in the way of the forces ravaging the
city. The mad Tetsuo turns on old friends, overwhelming with his raging
and inhuman flesh. Backed into a corner, Lady Miyako must re-direct the
might of her followers from precious healing to desparate destruction.
But it may
finally be a military leader without a command who wins out this dark day,
battered Colonel can find the strength to target a child Emperor named
...and do so simple a thing as pull a trigger.