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This article contains plot details about the source material.
Shotaro Kaneda (金田正太郎 Kaneda Shōtarō), referred to as Kaneda, is the leader of the Bōsōzoku gang referred to as The Capsules and the main protagonist of the Akira manga and anime franchise. He is the childhood friend of Tetsuo Shima.
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. At certain points in the film, he swaps this out for a pink polo shirt, a pair of off-white pants, and white sneakers.
He wears a wider variety of clothing in the manga: although never donning the iconic capsule jacket, his racing bike suit has a close resemblance in both design and color. Nonetheless, he has a variety of different gloves and head accessories throughout the first volume. His most noticeable clothes in the manga are a striped sweater with an undershirt, his jeans and the slip on shoes.
Kaneda is portrayed as the main symbol of defiance against traditional forms of authority, particularly Colonel Shikishima. His fellow bikers and classmates all describe him as "egotistical," as he likes to show off in everything he does. He is known to act before thinking things through, which gets him into trouble.
Beneath his tough and cocky exterior, Kaneda is brave, energetic, independent, 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.
In the manga, Kaneda is often illustrated using his body to shield those he perceives as vulnerable, placing Akira behind him when confronted by armed guards. He again exhibits this body language while Kei is comatose.
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. A homoerotic relationship is implied between the two in both the manga and the anime but it is not further explored.
- 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 must compensate for something). It is also heavily implied that he stole his motorbike in the film, given that he encourages Tetsuo to do the same when he finds him marveling over it.
- Kaneda was named after 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.