Live Action Akira is Back On!

Remember when they said they were going to make a live action adaptation of the classic Anime feature Akira?

Well fanboys released a collective sigh of relief when they found the adpatation of their beloved film was shelved. It was going to be transplanted to an American adaptation in a postapocalyptic Manhattan instead of Neo Tokyo, and then the project stalled out and disappeared.

Well get ready to inhale again. It seems that DiCaprio and Warner Brothers never stopped working on it and are eagerly awaiting the next script by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.

FilmJunk says:

Fergus and Ostby have some serious geek cred under their belts as they previously worked on the screenplays for Children of Men, Iron Man and First Snow. Apparently their version of Akira is still set in post-apocalyptic Manhattan, but it’s unclear if the adaptation is being planned as two films, as it was previously rumoured. If all goes well, Akira could go into production sometime next year with a pretty substantial budget behind it.

Now originally all the fears were that they would take the edgy animated feature and dumb it down for the American audience with product placement and make it a fluffy action flick.

The original is a classic, and as long as they stay true to that feel and look, I don’t mind that its being set in Manhattan.

I look forward to seeing what they will do with this and I for one am glad its back on.

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32 thoughts on “Live Action Akira is Back On!

  1. I can’t see this being good! The books are so awesome and so is the original anime…I guess my fanboy side has no faith. If you want to see an AMAZING live action anime then check out Cashern. That movie is freaking sweet. The poeple who made that movie should helm the live action Akira.

    1. Cashern was pretty cool, but I would hate to see Akira done in that style. It’s probably my favorite anime of all time as it was my first I ever saw that was not a syndicated show on saturday mornings, and I’m excited as hell for the movie to be made. Looking forward to seeing how Hollywood handles it and what DiCaprio’s studio does with it. Also quite excited about Battle Angel, if Cameron goes through with it, another favorite. Would also love to see a live action of Ghost in the Shell. The worse that happens is that these movies suck and still have the anime to turn back to and enjoy. Otherwise it will be awesome and I still have the anime to watch as it will never stop being awesome.

  2. Even with competent writers I’m still not excited and wish they’d leave the story alone. Why call it Akira if you’re going to place it in Manhattan? Bah. I’m not going to get on my soap box.

    1. I thought similarly at first, but… When you start to think about the underlying stories, the stories are fairly universal and don’t require a specific location or racial casting for the movie to work as well as the anime. It’s like the argument that certain super heroes have to be played by somebody of a certain race, when its not the race that matters but the motivation and actions of the hero. Also, I wonder if this is to be strictly a remake of the anime or if they are going to dive into the manga as well or instead of.

      1. Jeremy, I can’t agree. Akira is intensely Japanese, thematically and visually. The Japanese rebuilding of Tokyo after the firebombings in WW2, the 1980s student riots (they just switched Narita airport with the Olympic stadium for the comic/film), the unwanted intervention by American forces (in the manga, I think was cut from the anime though), the uncontrolled spread of capitalism within the power vacuum, the financial crisis, and there’s no mistaking the connection between the opening explosion and Hiroshima.

      2. If you ask me the only reason they have it set in Manhattan is so they can cast American actors instead of Japanese for the sake of Americanizing the film. But as long as they get the story right then I guess I’ll be fine.

      3. Jeremy, I appreciate your open minded attitude, but I’m going to have to side with Mladen and Matt on this one. I haven’t read Akira since high school, definitely need to revisit, but it was the first manga I ever read and I loved it. Going to the theater to see the anime is one of the highlights of my teen years and I still like to revisit it it on DVD. I would rather not see yet another foreign property Americanized and that is where I’m trying to keep off the soapbox.

        If they want to make an Akira like story set in America fine, but don’t call it Akira.
        I think there is a difference between super heroes being cast as a different race and Japanese or any other Asian or non-American story cast with American actors. I feel the same way about Death Note being adapted for America which will likely star American actors.

      4. “The Japanese rebuilding of Tokyo after the firebombings in WW2”

        A lot of place, especially in Europe, had to cope with rebuilding after WW2. In the anime, taking place in Japan, obviously it’s reminiscent of their rebuilding; however, that is still a universal theme of the aftermath of war that people across the world have endured.

        “the 1980s student riots (they just switched Narita airport with the Olympic stadium for the comic/film)”

        Again, same thing. Taking place in Japan, this is a relation that we can connect it to; however, it is still a universal theme. Rioting is experienced across the world, and its tragedies and impacts are felt by people globally. Another universal global theme here. Thanks for pointing that one out.

        “the unwanted intervention by American forces (in the manga, I think was cut from the anime though)”

        Can’t really comment on this, as I’ve only seen the Anime… which was the first anime I ever saw way back in the day. Even then, any time any country’s unwanted intervenes in another countries business occurs these theme shines through. Not just with American interventions, but such groups as the United Nations is also looked down upon for many of their actions. Another universal theme; whereas the Anime taking place in Japan the most obvious to look at is the one you stated.

        “the uncontrolled spread of capitalism within the power vacuum”

        Another universal theme and not just applied to capitalism, but any government establishment. I remember a time when a little thing known as Communism was spreading and being saw it as a threat.

        “the financial crisis”

        Hey, look around… even now this is a universal theme. The world is kind of a financial crisis as we speak. Japan is not the only effected by this.

        “there’s no mistaking the connection between the opening explosion and Hiroshima.”

        This is true. But do you know what those bombs meant? They meant power and mans ability to destroy in a globally threatening like never before. Japan has felt the force of that sadly, but this is a global threat and could occur anywhere. This was not just a tragedy for Japan, but a tragedy for mankind. This is once again a universal theme.

        Thanks for strengthening my argument. Provided me a path to show the universal nature of the Akira story. Let’s not forget the universal themes shared with Blade Runner in the acknowledgment of man’s desire to bring technology to new heights. If we see the way to achieve something, that we will do it despite the cost it may have on our own morality.

      5. FYI… I have been to Japan. There is no other place I’d rather live than Japan. Sadly I don’t, though. Tokyo is amazing and I would love to see Akira take place in Neo Tokyo; however, to strip something like Akira of its universality is to really depreciate a piece of work in my own opinion. A universal theme means the potential to touch millions which Akira does. Take that universalism away and nobody will relate to but a specifically targeted group of people.

  3. Lets just hope the live action for this movie is better than the live action movie they made for Fist of The North Star. LOL considering luckilly hollywood , at least some people in hollywood know how to treat anime and comic book adaptations these days…. How awsome would it be if coming off inception, dicaprio tapped Nolan and we got a nolan based Akira. Yes it’s fantasy thinking such a thing but it’s my fantasy…..

  4. Perfect writers for such a project. I’m highly ecstatic about this. And if James Cameron follows up Avatar with Battle Angel Alita then Alita and Akira will be my two most known anticipated movies in the foreseeable future.

  5. I wouldn’t mind seeing a live action Akira, but Hollywood is just gonna Americanize(Bastardize) it.

    I would much rather a Japanese Studio(or director) make this film. Because they know how to make live action adaptations of anime good. Only good one I’ve seen from Hollywood is “Aeon Flux”.

    1. Have you seen the Japanese live action remakes of Fist of the North Star, Cutie Honey, and Demon City? Those were all horrible. I am hoping for Blood the Last Vampire to be good, but I don’t even think that is done by the Japanese. Also, I have not seen them yet, but I have the Death Note movies in queue on Netflix… though from past experiences I don’t have high hopes for their live action adaptations. Japan has yet to impress me with their ability to adapt an anime to live action. Which ones have you seen that were good, out of curiosity? I’ll have to check them out and hope my opinion is changed in this regard.

      1. Whoops, and my apologies. Should not have thrown Fist of the North Star up there as it was an American movie… though it was direct to DVD which helps explain its awfulness.

      2. I liked Death Note, and Cutie Honey. How many has Hollywood done that were good? 1. And we also got that piece of shit Dragonball Evolution from them. Anime should stay animated. Unless they make a huge amount of changes to adapt it to live action, then it won’t work.

      3. I can only think of Dragonball and Fist of the Northstar that have been released, and both were horrible. However, Fist of the Northstar was a direct to DVD, and more often than not direct to DVD movies of this caliber suck regardless of the source material. I’ve hated all the Dragonball series, so that was kinda of a lose/lose situation for me in live action anyway.

        Prospects of Akira being done by DiCaprio’s studio and Cameron doing Battle Angel dwarf anything prior done in anime adaptations in either Japan or Hollywood, as far as I am concerned though. I guess time will tell if they can succeed where Japan and Hollywood have failed.

        I am looking forward to seeing the Death Note live action movies, despite low expectations. I want them to be good, since I did enjoy the anime.

      4. I am looking forward to Cameron’s adaptation of Battle Angel, but thats pretty much because he hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve seen all of Cameron’s films(not including “Avatar”), and there were all good.

      5. I would rather have anime stay animated, but I will say Death Note I & II are good. My daughter and I enjoyed them. We watched them after we watched the anime and after she read the manga. Be aware the movie adaptations follow the anime to a point, but then deviate, yet still keep the basic story intact.
        The casting was really done well, in my opinion, though I wasn’t overly impressed with the actor who played Light.

        If you check out Death Note III it’s just a side story for L that has nothing to do with the anime or manga or the Death Note. I think it was made mostly because of L’s popularity.

      6. Interesting, thanks for the info Meli. I’m going to have to move those up in my queue now. Looking forward to watching them. Interesting on Death Note III, you got me curious to see what they do with that.

      7. I personally enjoyed the DN movies (Seen all three, read manga, and watched the anime), but like Meli said…it follows it to a point. The interesting thing about all three endings (manga, anime, and movie) are that they’re all different from one another in one way or another. That kinda made the ending of the Live action movies more suspenseful because you couldn’t rely on the book and anime to hint at where certain characters would die, etc.

        I know I shouldn’t of, but I was realllllyy angry with the L movie. I mean, you can watch it…and contrary to what Meli said, it does have like..a very small small part that has to do with the Light arc…(the beginning and end, really).

        They’re all pretty interesting, and the main character of Battle Royale is the protagonist/antagonist (depending on how you look at it) of DN.

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