This article contains plot details about the source material.
Kaneda stands at near average height with short black hair and dark brown eyes. His most notable feature is his attire in the film: a jacket with large design of a capsule on the back, a pair of red pants and boots, and a pale yellow t-shirt. In several scenes, he swaps this out for a pink polo shirt, a pair of off-white pants, and white sneakers.
Kaneda is portrayed as the main symbol of defiance against traditional forms of authority, particularly Colonel Shikishima. He is known to act before thinking things through, which gets him into trouble.
Beneath his tough and cocky exterior, Kaneda is brave and innately empathetic. He looks out for the safety and well-being of the members of his biker gang (most notably Tetsuo Shima), and becomes vexed to the point of tears when he loses one of them. Kaneda values loyalty and becomes vengeful when trust is broken.
Like most of the characters in the story, Kaneda's early life is largely unknown.
As a child, Kaneda lived in the same orphanage as Tetsuo, whom he befriended shortly after his arrival there. In their teens, they become members of a bike gang, of which Kaneda is the leader.
During a fight with The Clown Gang, Tetsuo becomes victim of a motorbike accident caused by the sudden appearance of Takashi crossing the Old Tokyo road. After that he gets arrested by government forces. who interrogate them because of the events.
- Main article: Shotaro Kaneda's Bike
Kaneda's high-tech motorcycle is an iconic feature of the series. As the group's leader, he is entitled to have the most technologically and aesthetically-advanced bike. It is implied that he stole it in the film, given that he encourages Tetsuo to do the same when he finds him marveling over it.
- Kaneda was named after Shotaro Kaneda, the protagonist of Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor).
- Besides Tetsuo, Kaneda is the only character with a canonical full name.
- In Saints Row 2, there is a motorcycle named Kaneda.
- in Ghostrunner, Kaneda's red bike is featured as an easter egg.
- Even though seen throughout the whole movie, Kanedas bike is only seen in Volume 1 and at the end of Volume 6 of the original manga.
- In the Famicom playthrough of Akira, Kaneda shows up as deceased in the bad ending.