Katsuhiro Otomo is a mangaka, or Japanese comic book artist, who was born in 1954. He was born in Hasama, Japan, and grew up in the 1960’s, when people were fighting against the Japanese government. It was in high school that Otomo discovered his love for the movies. He later allowed this love to follow him into his work. Once he graduated from high school, he became obsessed with American and European comic books, and decided that he wanted to become a comic book artist.
In 1973 he had his first work published in the manga magazine, Action. The story was named A Gun Report. The publishers at Action liked his work, and had him create a number of small, one-shot mangas for them over the next few years. In 1974, Otomo created Boogie Woogie Waltz, which consisted of short stories about the dark side of Tokyo, exposing the numerous bad things that occur in the Tokyo evening, including sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Three years later he found himself with the opportunity to visit New York City, and was ecstatic to be able to do so. He managed to turn the visit into a manga named Nippon Sayonara. This work became one of his first long-lasting comics.
Next for Otomo came the manga known as Fireball. It was his first shot at science fiction, and still remains unfinished. He decided that he liked the science fiction genre, though, and created Domu in 1980. Domu became very popular and was the first manga that Otomo created that became popular with the mainstream audience.
1982 marked the year that Otomo would finally find real, lasting success, with his story of Akira. Akira ran for eight years, and won the Kodansha Comic Strip-Award in 1984. The story was also turned into an animated movie, and has become known as one of the anime movies to watch. In 1988, Akira was released in the United Staets, and became known as the first comic book to ever be computer-colored.
Success continued to follow Otomo along, as in 1990 he created The Legend of the Mother Sarah. It was a story that was about a mother who was searching for her children across a desolate wasteland. Otomo, however, did not draw the manga, but instead left the work to his apprentice, Takumi Nagayasu. This is the last time Otomo had anything to do with manga. Instead, in 1991, Otomo branched out into live-action movies. He directed a movie called World Apartment Horror. This was a comedy horror that did not do amazingly at the box office, but did well enough to establish Otomo as a serious film maker.
Otomo decided to become a supervisor, and supervised two very important animes: Perfect Blue and Spriggan. Perfect Blue did exceptionally well. In 2000, it seemed as if Otomo was rising from the ashes. The American publishing company, Dark Horse, bought the rights to Akira and started re-releasing them.