Warner Brothers, in September 2017, announced that they will be producing a live-action adaptation of the famous 1988 hit, Akira. Taika Waititi, the director of Thor: Ragnarok was in talks of taking the helm of the direction of the movie. The project was, however, put on hold indefinitely for a long time. But the fans can rejoice since the release date was announced for the 21st of May, 2021. It will release with John Wick: Chapter 4 being the competition, says the Hollywood Reporter.
The California Film Commission revealed in April that the film will shoot entirely in California. It will also receive a tax credit of US$18.5 million. Deadline reports that Dane DeHaan and Michael Pitt were competing for the lead role of Tetsuo. They would be working alongside Garrett Hedlund, Kristin Stewart, and potentially Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter. However, there have been no updates yet.
Fans furious about Akira Live-action
The project has the full support and blessings of original manga author Katsuhiro Otomo. However, the first synopsis of the film has fans storming to twitter with pitchforks because of its controversial changes. The synopsis, published in the Production Weekly magazine states:
“When a young man’s telekinesis is discovered by the military, he is taken in to be turned into a superweapon. And his brother must race to save him before Manhattan is destroyed by his powers. Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother Tetsuo is abducted by Government agents lead by the Colonel. Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join Ky Reed and her underground movement. They are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City 30 years ago when it was destroyed.
Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous. But after facing his brother again he is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers. Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy. Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind, Kaneda clashes with the Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing live-action Akira. But they arrive too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo. Kaneda races to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island as he did thirty years ago.”
While the changes have proven to be very polarizing, people are still hopeful. Answering fans’ concerns, Waititi in April 2018 told Dazed Magazine:
“What I wanted to do was an adaptation of the books, ’cos a lot of people are like, ‘Don’t touch that film!’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not remaking the film, I want to go back to the book’. A lot of the people freaking out haven’t even read the books, and there are six gigantic books to go through. It’s so rich.”
Waititi’s success with Thor: Ragnarok is also giving fans a refreshing sigh of relief.
Waititi told ScreenRant that he would prefer having Asian actors in the movie. The website also reports his wishes to make the movie closer to the books than the anime. While that is good news, the repeated failures of Hollywood with adaptations has fans skeptical. Be it the blandness of Death Note or whitewashing of Ghost in The Shell, anime adaptations haven’t been Hollywood’s forte.
Verdict Of Akira Live-action
Despite Hollywood’s failures and mistakes, I am still hopeful for the Akira live-action movie. The manga and the animated movie are a cultural phenomenon. And the director seems to know and understand it really well. Wait it’s a dedication to the craft and his respect for Asian culture is a refreshing sight. So let’s be hopeful and have faith in his skills while we wait another couple years for the release.