You can buy the jacket from Kanye’s favorite anime

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If you’re both a fan of fashion and anime, you’ve had a great year. A Loewe x Miyazaki collab, a Gucci x Crunchyroll partnership, an Undercover collection mainly Neon Genesis Evangelion cosplay. Any of these would’ve been a highlight for trendy anime heads, and we got all three. Now, anime distribution company Funimation is delivering another gem: Kaneda’s jacket from AKIRA, arguably the hottest garment in anime history, arrives in North America.

Kaneda’s jacket from AKIRA.Hillary head
No capsule on this one.Hillary head

If you are not familiar, AKIRA is the manga (comic) and anime (movie) drawn, written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo in the 1980s widely recognized for introducing the rest of the world to modern Japanese animation. In short, it’s the story of a teenage biker gang named Kaneda and his disturbed psychic friend Tetsuo, in cyberpunk Neo-Tokyo. Both the manga and the anime were celebrated for their extreme dedication to realistic detail, and at the time of the film’s release, it was the most expensive anime production ever to be made in Japan. The opening sequence – a brawl between biker gangs – is known to be a tough guy and gives a first glimpse of Kaneda’s weathered leather jacket. It’s definitely a statement piece, a bright red runner with sagging shoulder pads. In the anime, the back is adorned with a pill – Kaneda’s gang is called the Capsules.

Since the film’s release in 1988, AKIRAthe influence of has been vast. “After AKIRA, nothing has ever been the same in Japan, ”says Carlo Levy, the creative director of the new jacket. The film has inspired countless projects in its own genre and has also influenced more mainstream directors like George Miller and Jordan Peele. In 2018, Kanye West called it “his greatest creative inspiration,” and it’s not as wild as it sounds: the “Stronger” music video is a AKIRA tribute, while a few brave online claim Kaneda’s style is the seed of Kanye’s iconic pink polo shirt.

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AKIRA also had a strong presence in the fashion world. Anime has a well-documented streetwear implantation, and there’s no better example than Supreme 2017 AKIRA collection, whose coins can fetch up to $ 1,400 on Grailed. The 2013 catalog of Commes des Garçons was a AKIRA thematic collaboration between Rei Kawakubo and Otomo. You can still buy that Kenzo sweatshirt that riffs on the AKIRA font.

More generally, Otomo’s work has shifted the dialogue between anime and fashion. This is in part because of his common sense when it comes to clothing, although AKIRA is a science fiction story, the world it inhabits is not that far from ours. People drink in bars and drive to work, wear polo shirts and leather jackets, even though they work to disrupt the government’s psychological operations. “There’s nothing extravagant about clothing,” says Levy. “It’s a general atmosphere of realism and extreme attention to detail.”

So the jacket. This is the play that made Kaneda fresh, who launched a thousand Kanye-inspired Tumblr pages. Levy argues that it’s really a metonymy for what we all really want: the motorcycle. “What we all want is Kaneda’s bike. Tetsuo is determined to destroy the world, but what he really wants is Kaneda’s bike, ”he jokes. “But if you can’t have the bike, the second best thing is the jacket.”

Kaneda’s jacket development sketch.Carlo Levy, Alessandro Trombetta, Stefan Henzgen

The production of the jacket was tricky, however, as it changes from panel to panel and frame to frame. To distill the jacket to its platonic ideal, Levy’s team kept a few basics – the clips, shoulder pads, sleeve ends, an overall ’80s vibe – while adjusting the silhouette for non-animated people. Hardcore fans may already be protesting: “There is no capsule on the back! Yes, there is a patch / sticker on Kaneda’s jacket in the anime, but it’s obviously not there in the manga. Levy explains that Otomo wanted to stick with this original version, partly for fidelity to the manga and partly because putting a pill on a collectible seemed inappropriate.

A version of this jacket was released in parts of the world a few years ago to commemorate AKIRA, but this is the first time it will be available in North America. It drops to Funimation on July 13 – there’s only 300. We’re probably still a hundred years off Kaneda’s bike, but you can bite his style this summer.

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