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- Affectionate Pickpocket
- Badass Normal
- Chivalrous Pervert: He's a total pervert to Kei at the start, but later grows fond of her.
- Determinator: Throughout the story, and especially in the final battle with Tetsuo.
- Last-Name Basis: Though in Japan, it's common for the last name of people placed before their name.
- Mitsuo Iwata
- No One Should Survive That: Kaneda is by far the luckiest character in the story line. In fact, it could be argued that he didn't survive the obliteration of Neo Tokyo and only pulled through because of an odd application of the Timey-Wimey Ball.
- Ax Crazy: Moreso in the manga, where he simply kills people because he feels like it.
- Badass Abnormal: After discovering his powers.
- Big Bad: While Tetsuo starts off just as confused as everybody else, he becomes the main antagonist eventually.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the movie. Much of Tetsuo's rampage has him doing nothing but smirking and deflecting any hits against him in stride, but when the army starts pulling out their laser guns and shooting at him, they miss and hit one of the Akira worshippers following him. His reaction to it was of shock and disgust. The next time they fire, he shields not only himself from the beams, but also deflects them away from any bystanders behind him. It becomes somewhat inverted, when he breaks the bridge, but hey, that was a combination of him not knowing his own strength as well as one of the collapsing tanks misfiring and hitting the side where the worshippers were standing.
- Evil Laugh: "UWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-A-AAH"!
- Freudian Excuse: Poor Tetsuo had to deal with bullies of various sorts his entire life until he discovered his powers.
- From Nobody to Nightmare
- Gone Horribly Right: The military succeeded only too well in unlocking Tetsuo's powers.
- Humanoid Abomination: At the end.
- Japanese Delinquents
- Lima Syndrome: In the manga, Tetsuo comes to feel some degree of sympathy for Kaori, even letting her take a nap with her head on his lap.
- Nozomu Sasaki
- Out of the Inferno: Right before he starts fighting the military in the movie.
- Parental Abandonment
- Person of Mass Destruction: At one point, Colonel Shikishima refers to him as "another Akira".
- Shadow Dictator: Akira is made out to be the ruler of the empire in the manga, but Tetsuo is really the one "ruling".
- Shrinking Violet: Tetsuo was very introverted as a child.
- Sorcerous Overlord: Tetsuo after the third book. Just replace magic with psychic powers.
- Spikes of Villainy: Tetsuo's hair.
- Superpower Meltdown
- Tank Ammo Catch: Tetsuo does this with his mind in the movie.
- Took a Level in Badass: Thanks to his newly awakened powers!
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Tetsuo goes crazy due to his severe inferiority complex being combined with psychic power beyond his wildest dreams.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Naturally.
- Action Girl: Shown when she fights Tetsuo.
- Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: While she shows traces of this in The Movie, it's never explained why the espers chose her out of all the other people in Neo Tokyo. The manga explains that she herself has powers, but her powers are that of a medium.
- Plucky Girl
- Colonel Badass
- Friend to All Children: He's the only one aside from Dr. Onishi to take the Espers abilities seriously and is fiercely protective of them. Even willing to take on a mutating Tetsuo with nothing but a side arm just to keep him away from them. He extends this to Kaori as well in the movie when Tetsuo advances on her menacingly, making him the only one aside from Kaneda to manage to harm Tetsuo. He was even genuinely worried when Tetsuo's powers were getting out of control, desperately trying to warn him that his powers are killing him.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Colonel, after the timeskip in the manga. Before, he's a very angry Elite Mook who spends his whole time shouting conflicting orders. After, he's a much more thoughtful and outright heroic character who shows that he's a very badass fighter who's not to be messed with as time goes on, leading up to him attempting to take out Tetsuo head on.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The big explosion that left that massive crater was caused by him ascending into an energy form. E=mc^2 and all that.
- Creepy Child: Can come across as this due to his blank facial expressions, his lack of speech and emotional reaction to external stimuli. Oh, and he's one of the most powerful psychics in the manga.
- Dead All Along/Posthumous Character: By thirty years in the movie. Subsequent resurrections notwithstanding.
- Gone Horribly Right
- Humanoid Abomination
- Human Popsicle: In the manga, he is placed into cryogenic storage while still alive. Tetsuo later thaws him out.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Do we need to explain what he did to the original Tokyo?
- Schrödinger's Cast: Alive throughout the manga, but Dead All Along in the movie (though he gets better).
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Although he's not so much "evil" as he is an autistic and emotionally broken child with enormous psychic powers.
- Why Am I Ticking?
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
Kyoko, Takashi and Masaru
- Apologetic Attacker: Takashi uses his Psychic Powers to pretty much blow up a girl named Mozu, but it's clear that he saw it as the only alternative and apologizes before and after doing so.
- Creepy Child: All three can come across as this, due to their wizened appearance and their Wise Beyond Their Years behavior.
- Ill Girl: Kyoko is bedridden and has a weaker health than the others. Masaru is confined to a wheelchair
- Never Grew Up: Implied to have been a result of the government's experiments and all the drugs they have to take. However, while they stayed children, their bodies aged prematurely, so they look unnaturally old.
- Sacrificial Lion: Takashi, who gets shot in the head by no real reason at all. And right when he had found Akira and was happily going to him! This completely causes an horrified Akira to release his powers, taking almost all of Neo Tokyo with him.
- Break the Cutie
- Butt Monkey: A tragic example in the movie. She is constantly belittled by Tetsuo, beaten and nearly raped by The Clowns after her first appearance. Then killed accidentally when Tetsuo's mutation devours her and crushes her to death. To make matters even worse, he can feel her physical and emotional pain from it even after her death.
- Love Martyr: Even if Tetsuo shouts some verbal insults at her and tries to force her into sex slavery, she stays loyal to him.
- Morality Chain: In the manga, she's one of the few persons Tetsuo cares for. When she died, he went APESHIT.
- Stockholm Syndrome: In the manga, Kaori comes to feel sympathy towards Tetsuo despite the fact he forcibly recruited her and tried to turn her into a sex slave.
- Yuriko Fuchizaki
Sakaki, Mozu and Miki
- Blondes Are Evil: Toyed with in regards to the blonde Mozu. She's not exactly evil, but very ruthless. So much that she won't stop attacking Takashi, causing him to release his powers and kill her in self-defense.
- Creepy Child
- Extraordinarily Empowered Girl
- Short Hair with Tail
- Tyke Bomb
- Undying Loyalty: The three girls are totally devoted to their leaderess Miyako.