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This article contains plot details about the source material.
Tetsuo Shima (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 Shima 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 Shima 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. Depending on lighting, Tetsuo appears to have a darker skin tone than the rest of the gang. 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, 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 was brought to the orphanage at the same day as Kaneda, as shown in one of the flashback sequences in the film.
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. Tetsuo’s abilities awaken, giving him a devastatingly destructive ability. He would go on to rampage through the city in search of Akira. Upon finding the remains of Akira he begins to lose control of himself and his abilities. He would make his final stand at Neo-Tokyo’s Olympic Sports Stadium. Here he would finally lose all control and become a mass of flesh. Akira would reawaken and bring Tetsuo into an alternate dimension. Tetsuo’s fate is not mentioned after the ending of the film, assumably transcended into the heavens as a god.
- Tetsuo may be named after Tetsuo Shikishima, Dr. Shikishima's son in the manga/anime series Tetsujin-28.
- 島鉄雄 directly translates to "island" "iron man," alluding to his prosthetic arm which makes him a "man of iron."
- Tetsuo is infamously known for appearing to have a large forehead.
- Considering that AKIRA was a large influence to anime/film in Japan, Tetsuo might've served as a blueprint for several other characters in anime such as Vegeta (Dragon Ball) or Sasuke (Naruto).
- 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.[?]
- All for One at one point has a huge grotesque arm made of metal and flesh, but he stated that it was a mere coincidence.