‘Akira’: Looking back at the future

Akira Creator Isn't Totally Down With Hollywood's Live-Action Movie

'Akira': Looking back at the future
'Akira': Looking back at the future

In the intervening 30 years, “Akira” has never really disappeared.

Years later, Kanye West would replicate some of the scenes in his video for “Stronger,” later tweeting that “‘Akira’ and ‘There Will Be Blood’ are equally my two favorite movies of all time.

“Akira” even influenced the way people dressed.

In 2017, streetwear brand Supreme released a series of shirts, sweaters and jackets featuring “Akira” imagery.

Having said all that, if “Akira” can be seen as the first anime of its kind, it can also, in many ways, be seen as the last.

“People were getting into anime, going, I’ve seen ‘Akira,’ what else is like ‘Akira’? And you responded, well, you know, not too much, really.”

His “Steamboy,” released in 2004, had production values that in some ways rivaled those of “Akira,” but its plot was widely panned by critics.


Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later

Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later

There’s a reason a Japanese animated film from 30 years ago still has resonance in America today.

Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe gave the clearance for niche pop culture properties to enter the mainstream, Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” served as an entry point for Westerners into the world of Japanese animation.

In “Akira,” an event akin to the Big Bang consumes Tokyo, leading to World War III. Years later, in 2019, the streets of what’s known as Neo Tokyo are rife with violent protests and marauding biker gangs.

The story is, in part, an allegory for the fallout from the nuclear bombs dropped by the United States during World War II – where Akira represents the bomb and Tetsuo is the dreaded next calamity.

“There were two [problems]: How do you bridge to American audiences and make it relevant to people who weren’t the sci-fi fans who grew up knowing what ‘Akira’ is? And how do you sell that to an American audience that’s not familiar but still keeping the core of what makes it so great?”.

“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi is rumored to be attached to the current iteration of “Akira,” and has said in interviews that he intends to use an all-Asian cast and primarily use Otomo’s more expansive manga version as inspiration.

He just thinks Hollywood needs to have some more failures before it develops a brain trust that understands what makes anime like “Akira” compelling – and noted that early Marvel efforts were not as well regarded as the current cinematic universe.

How 'Akira' rewrote the rules for anime

How ‘Akira’ rewrote the rules for anime

Long before the Marvel cinematic universe gave the clearance for niche pop culture properties to enter the mainstream, Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” served as an entry point for Westerners into the world of Japanese animation.

The story is, in part, an allegory for the fallout from the nuclear bombs dropped by the United States during World War II – where Akira represents the bomb and Tetsuo is the dreaded next calamity.

Influential streetwear brand Supreme released a collection of apparel in fall 2017 with artwork from “Akira” and Otomo.

Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

“There were two: How do you bridge to American audiences and make it relevant to people who weren’t the sci-fi fans who grew up knowing what ‘Akira’ is? And how do you sell that to an American audience that’s not familiar but still keeping the core of what makes it so great?”.

“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi is rumored to be attached to the current iteration of “Akira,” and has said in interviews that he intends to use an all-Asian cast and primarily use Otomo’s more expansive manga version as inspiration.

He just thinks Hollywood needs to have some more failures before it develops a brain trust that understands what makes anime like “Akira” compelling – and noted that early Marvel efforts were not as well regarded as the current cinematic universe.

Akira Creator Isn't Totally Down With Hollywood's Live-Action Movie

Akira Creator Isn’t Totally Down With Hollywood’s Live-Action Movie

Hollywood and anime don’t mix well, and the creator of Akira knows it.

Wants to take a go now and bring Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira to the big screen.

In a rare interview, Otomo recently spoke with Forbes to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Akira.

“If someone wants to do something new with Akira then I am mostly okay with that. As I accepted the offer for a live-action Akira to be made, so I am generally okay with whatever they want to do with it. However, I did give one major condition to a live-action version and that is that I had to check and approve the scenario.”

Wants to make a live-action Akira movie, it will have to get Otomo’s blessing.

Personally, I think being entirely bound to the original manga of something like Akira would not make any sense as a movie.

As for what I would do in terms of adapting Akira into my own live-action movie, I really don’t want to do that.

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‘Akira’: Looking back at the future
Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later
How ‘Akira’ rewrote the rules for anime
Akira Creator Isn’t Totally Down With Hollywood’s Live-Action Movie

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