Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Project BM! ~ 1/6th Shotaro Kaneda.

...this figure received much flak recently, due to the less than desirable "quality" which admittedly, does not reflect the price tag. Rightly pointed out by some toy sifus are the skinny body, pin on jacket with seams, which is comparatively "un-tidy" and conventional against offerings from other toy companies and a non-removable goggle. The plus point is that I noticed how effortlessly I can swap the various hands and head around (at least not as pain inducing as some I have encountered). Nevertheless, this is one of the those rare situation for me at least, of which the bike and the figure have got to be paired up together, otherwise I felt it is like ordering char kuey teow without kuey teow. I suspected that the red bike could have been produced by Bandai whereas the figure is by Medicom. Medicom is notorious for below par QC. Opsie! Allow me to correct that statement. I mean, the perceived quality is not on par with the price. Which was why I have always been shying away from Medicom offerings...until now that is. Thing is, Medicom produced some real "accurate" manga/anime type figure. They have the knack for capturing anime renderings effortlessly. And with Hot Toys (the last anime characters from them was the awesome Briareos and Deunan pair) currently focusing on realistic looking movie related characters, and DiD on WW2 military figure (couldn't wait for the Battle of Stalingrad 1942 aka Enemy at the Gate figures to be released next), that gives me the option to check out Medicom (there are others but way too unaccesible) when it comes to collecting favourite anime/manga related figures (which in my case, are very very rare...they somehow tend to skip my favourite characters like Battle Angel Alita, for example). Kaneda himself, of course, is the protagonist of the epic manga, Akira, illustrated and written by Katsuhiro Otomo back in 1982 shortly after he completed Domu : A Child's Dream. The entire series ended in 1990, was compiled into six massive volumes, and initially translated for the English readers by Marvel Comics imprint, Epic Comics back in the early 90s, later Dark Horse Comics picked up the licensing and came out with a new translation in 2004, re-released the manga in its original six volumes paperback (the only set back up till now is I have no idea where does the psychokinesis power comes from, is it "hidden" within our DNA?) Akira became so popular, globally is also partly due to the 1988 anime movie released. Considered ground breaking for its time due to the application of countless numbers of cels animation and perfected lips synchronisation with the dialogue, it resulted in one of the most breath taking, ultra fluid motion in an animation I have ever seen. Personality wise, Kaneda is, honestly, the typical teen rebel one could readily identified with. In this country, I imagine he would easily fit into a profile of a typical Mat Rempit, Fei Chai or samseng. The only difference is, being a futuristic, deluxe Japanese version of an Ah Beng/Mat Rempit, Kaneda is way cooler, and he owns a cooler bike than say, a mod Honda Cup, or even Batty's Batpod :). An early, fairly controversial subject I noticed was that Kaneda may have impregnated the school infirmary nurse (it was only hinted at) but after a few pages, the idea is not explored further in the manga. Another was that Kaneda and gangs are recreational drug users. And the effect of these drugs are indirectly compared when hardcore druggies like the Clowns are introduced, as well as when Tetsuo became addicted (which is why most mangas I had have to be hidden away in secret storages :) Both these matters are excluded from the movie. Incidentally, Kaneda's look evolved in the manga as the story progressed, and somehow looks abit different from his anime incarnation. Again, I read somewhere that Otomo actually completed the anime first before concluding the manga, which led to differences in both mediums. According to Wiki source, Otomo mentioned that he could never actually complete Akira.


Name : Shotaro Kaneda (金田 正太郎)
Age : 15 years old (as of AD2030).
School : 8th District Youth Vocational Training School, Neo Tokyo.
Favourite hangout place : Hariyuka Bar, 17th District, Neo Tokyo.
Gang Affiliation : De facto leader - sentōsha (先頭車), of the bōsōzoku (暴走族) bike gang, The Capsules.
Std. Armaments : The big, red bike + amphetamines. Optional JGSDF laser rifle model LZR.30 w/ NV optic sight (40 shots std round, 5 "hotshot" rounds) and rechargeable battery pack w. liquid metal core.
An alternate (interpretation).

Due to the collapse of the global economy shortly after World War Three (which begun in 1992) ended, massive unemployment indirectly causing the collapse of traditional family structure, resulted in many children being abandoned at a very young age into various state-sponsored welfare homes. Kaneda is no different and spent his time growing up in an orphanage where he met Tetsuo Shima (島 鉄雄), another orphan whom would become his closest friend after he prevented Tetsuo from being bullied and beaten by the older kids there. A complete opposite of Tetsuo, Kaneda has decided a long time ago not to be anchored with feeling of being abandoned, and determined to make it on his own in this world which he comes to regard as harsh. As such he continuously rebelled against any rules and regulations set by the adults, whom he regarded as old fashion and "dull". Kaneda can sometimes be seen as egoistical, speak without thinking and considerably brash. He also sees himself as a self styled "skirt-chaser", and although not very bright, he possesses confidence and leadership qualities as well as a strong sense of brotherhood, and would often stick out his neck and help friends in trouble all the way. At the age of 14, Kaneda and Tetsuo were both sent to the 8th District Youth Vocational Training School, an infamous institution which is a center for juvenile delinquents and dropouts from normal school. In fact it is kind of a school and boot camp rolled into one. There they met Yamagata (山形) and Kaisuke or better known as just Kai (甲斐). Together, they formed the bōsōzoku bike gang known as The Capsules, due to their mutual fondness for bikes and amphetamines. Originally, Yama wanted to be the sentōsha of the gang but he was "out-debated" by Kaneda (furthermore, Kaneda "proved" he could get them ample supply of pills for free, due to his affair with the school infirmary nurse) and became his right hand man instead. As all of them hold part-time jobs or fully unemployed, their bikes were all stolen from others and modified to suit their own tastes. Night after night, they would group together at the Hariyuka Bar, in their various loud and customised bikes, seeking the thrill of speeding down the highways, playing hide and seek with the police, alarming pedestrians and attract girls' attention. Eventually their memberships grew, and territorial dispute began to arise between them and other bike gangs. Thus, apart from seeking open road thrills and flaunting the authorities, The Capsules occasionally find themselves armed with baseball bats, metal pipes, knives and even molotov cocktails, and embroiled in particularly violent and brutal gang fight along the roads, most notably against their closest rival gang, The Clowns, another bosozoku outfit consisting of drug traffickers and hardcore addicts led by their physically intimidating sentosha, Joker. Often they would out-battled The Clowns and emerged un-scath, but occasionally, there would be injuries which lands them in hospital instead. Kaneda himself had been detained twice but since he was still below the legal age, Kaneda would be let off with warning. Kaneda continued to look after Tetsuo, whom he had came to regard as his very own kid brother. However, this attention only fueled Tetsuo's dissatisfaction of his own inferiority complex and deepened his sense of pessimism, as well as amplifiying the perception of helplessness and the "weak link" other members had projected upon him. On one particular faithful night which would forever changed both their lives, Tetsuo was determined to show everyone that he wasn't weak and overtook Kaneda in leading the convoy, a clear violation of the bōsōzoku rules. Speeding off towards an off limit abandoned highway which heads directly toward The Heart Of Destruction (the crater left by the supposedly new bomb which destroyed the former Tokyo City and ignited WW3), his bike exploded upon coming in contact with a mysterious boy with a number 26 laser engraved on his palm whom suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Injured, Kaneda and others came to his assistance. At this juncture, Kaneda thought he saw the boy de-materialised into thin air but a police car intervened and he never gave much thought to it. The officers took Tetsuo away and put Kaneda and the others into custody. A disturbing matter was that Kaneda and others never know which hospital the officers brought Tetsuo to, irregardless how hard they tried to get informations. A few weeks later, Tetsuo suddenly appeared on the school compound and drove Kaneda's bike away. Tetsuo had been desiring Kaneda's red bike from the time it was stolen from a bike showroom a year ago. Kaneda gave chase, not so much as to beat Tetsuo up for stealing his bike but to know where, how, why from Tetsuo himself. Tetsuo would have outrunned Kaneda easily but ran into a group of Clowns whom recognised Tetsuo as one of the members of their rival gang. Tetsuo was kicked off the bike and would have been beaten un-conscious if Kaneda and the rest did not arrive in time to chase off the Clowns. Except for one Clown, the rest ran off. Tetsuo, bleeding from the mouth and filling with rage, began to savagely rained down kicks and punches onto the captured Clown until Kaneda intervened and asked him to stop before Tetsuo kills him. Tetsuo burst into a rant at that point and blamed everything bad that were happening to him to that point upon Kaneda. Shocked, Kaneda froze at what Tetsuo had said, until the sound of the police sirens snapped Kaneda out of it. At about the same time, Tetsuo started to grasp at his head, screaming in pain. The police officers quickly whisked Tetsuo away while Kaneda and the rest of the members were taken into custody again. That would be the last time Kaneda ever saw of the Tetsuo he knew since childhood. The next time they met, their strong friendship would forever be shattered, and with Tetsuo (psychic experiment subject designated no. 41) newly manifested psychokinesis power, of which he used to massacre almost all the existing bōsōzoku gangs (including Yamagata) after they failed in the effort to trap him within a warehouse, both would see each other as bitter enemy instead. Kaneda also happened to be the only individual whom could engaged Tetsuo in a physical fist fight without being killed by Tetsuo's powerful psychokinesis ability, most likely due to the deeply ingrained sense of brotherhood whom both once had for one another. Kaneda was instrumental in eventually assisting Kei, a beautiful 19 years old member of the Resistance, in preventing the dormant and autistic Akira from being fallen into the military hand (although it turned out that Kei and her "brother" Ryu, ended up being betrayed by Nezu, the leader of the Resistance as well as a member of the local National Council) as well as causing Tetsuo's right arm to be incinerated by a SOL laser satellite shot. Minutes before the destruction of Neo-Tokyo (due to Akira releasing a second devastating psychic detonation), Kaneda and few other individuals were sucked into the vortex of the psychic sphere generated by Akira. What he encountered or experienced within was not revealed, but he was "released" from it when Tetsuo tried to manifest the same power some time later. Immediately catching up with Kei, Kai, the Colonel and even Joker, they formed an alliance to face and take down the anarchistic Great Tokyo Empire (formed by Tetsuo's aide, with Tetsuo being the "prime minister" and Akira as the "head of state") ruling the survivors amongst the ruins of Neo Tokyo city. As Tetsuo's power spiralled out of his control, Kaneda rode out alone to take him on face to face in the final showdown. But by then, Tetsuo had manifested into a grosteque and monsterous physical representation of his own surpressed memory. With Tetsuo's personality consumed by his own rampaging psychic power as well as seriously addicted to drugs, it would be up to Kei, whom has displayed potential as a "medium" for Lady Miyako (herself a psychic experiment subject, designated no. 19) to channel and amplify Miyako's psychic power, in order to reach into the SOL satellite's laser cannon and redirected the blast onto Tetsuo himself. That did not stop Tetsuo however and finally, Akira (whom was killed by Ryu earlier and had re-gained his personality), manifested and together with the collective consciousness of his former (presumedly deceased) childhood friends, absorbed Tetsuo into the psychic sphere and took him away from this existence forever to prevent any further destruction. As the US military forces gathered onto the shore of the ruins, Kaneda and his surviving friends and comrades, including Kei and Joker, stopped them from advancing into the city, saying that the place now belongs to them and they would not welcome any third party interference. Kaneda then rode into the ruins, and briefly saw the spirits of Tetsuo and Yamagata riding along side with him. Somehow re-assured, Kaneda knew that after all the apocalyptic occurences for the past one year, Neo Tokyo and all her survivors would now face a better and more optimistic future...

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