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This article contains plot details about the source material.
Tetsuo (島鉄雄 Shima Tetsuo) is both the deuteragonist and main antagonist of the AKIRA franchise. He serves as a representation of the corruption of power.
Tetsuo is voiced by Nozomu Sasaki in Japanese, Jan Rabson in the 1989 Streamline English dub, and Joshua Seth in the 2001 Pioneer English dub.
Tetsuo is a young male that is below average height and is slightly underweight with a very low muscular body. He appears stockier than his peers. Similar to many other characters, Tetsuo's hair and eyes are a very dark brown. Originally he had short lightly-textured hair, but grew as a result of his acquired powers, nearly reaching his shoulders when it's not standing up as due to radiation.
In the beginning of the film, Tetsuo wears a bulky light blue parka/anorak similar to what is seen the manga. In scenes regarding the government hospital he wears a regular patent's gown. After his first escape he wears a white sleeveless shirt and black pants with black socks and boots. He then wears a red worn cape ripped from a flag of the Resistance during the latter half of the film after breaking out from the hospital a second time.
Tetsuo’s largest characteristic is his inferiority complex. Despite Kaneda treating him well and having a brotherly relationship with him, Tetsuo feels like he is being bossed around by Kaneda which in reality keeps his attitude in check. Tetsuo has a rather fierce temper, is rather impulsive, and tends to make rash decisions. Like all other members of The Capsules, Tetsuo has little to no respect towards any form of authority figures.
When he acquired the powers of the Espers, and they try to kill him, his personality took a drastic turn to the worse. He sought down the Espers in order to find Akira, and decided to attempt to kill Kaneda in order to boost his own ego. Despite how he treated Kaneda, he became genuinely frightened when his body expanded beyond his control knowing full well Kaneda is powerless to stop him.
Not much is known about Tetsuo’s early life. He was apparently surrendered by his mother and brought to the orphanage at the same day as Kaneda, as shown in one of the flashback sequences in the film.
When he is older, he shows a likeness towards motorbikes and, like Kaneda, joins The Capsules. After a collision with Takashi he is administered into a military institution. Here he begins to develop psychic abilities already inside him which link him to Akira. When Tetsuo’s abilities completely awaken, they give him a devastatingly destructive ability, but also tremendous headaches. The psychic trio, afraid he might cause the awakening of Akira, try to kill him in vain, which causes him to become even stronger. After finding out where Akira is, he goes from the place and goes on to rampage through the city in search of him while the military attempt in vain to stop him, who are fearful of the threat of another resurrection of Akira.
Upon finding the remains of Akira under the Neo Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, he begins to lose control of himself and his abilities while being attacked there by the military, the psychic trio and Kaneda. He would make his final stand at the stadium. Here he would finally lose all control and become a mass of flesh. Akira, called by the psychic trio, reawakens and brings Tetsuo into an alternate dimension.
Tetsuo’s fate is not mentioned after the ending of the film. However, it is assumed that he transcended into a god, who is now in control of the new universe that has begun to appear in Neo-Tokyo and, as such, he has begun to fully create it.
- Tetsuo may be named after Tetsuo Shikishima, Dr. Shikishima's son in the manga/anime series Tetsujin-28.
- K9999 is a video game character in The King of Fighters series, whose character design is heavily inspired by Tetsuo.
- It has been officially confirmed by Horikoshi Kohei, the author of My Hero Academia that one of the protagonists of the story he writes and illustrates, Katsuki Bakugou was inspired by Tetsuo.[?]
- According to the glossaries on DVD Bonus Content of the film, Tetsuo's grandfather was involved in the 1978 Akira Project. Due to the experimentation, the gene was passed onto Tetsuo (skipping a generation), which caused him to have hidden psychic powers which were awakened when he crashed into Number 26 during the clown battle in Old City.