It’s looking like the red light has finally changed to green on Warner Bros Akira as the Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Raganork director, Taika Waititi has officially begun negotiations to take the helm on the project.
The live-action reboot of the Japanese animated science fiction film from 1988 and adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6 volume graphic novel has been long in the waiting, with a string of filmmakers all attached at some point to be a part of the production as well as actors such as Dane DeHaan, Michael Pitt, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart and Helena Bonham Carter.
The 1988 anime version was set in a dystopian, cyberpunk-themed 2019, Akira tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a local biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible powers after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening the entire military complex amidst chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo. It became a cult classic in Japan and was recognised as a landmark in Japanese animation.
The live-action version is due to be set in a rebuilt New Manhattan, where a leader of a biker gang saves his friend from a medical experiment. The question is will this picture be surrounded in the whole whitewashing controversy of those that have come before such as Ghost in a Shell? In 2011 George Takei spoke about the film when casting rumours mounted and stated that any decision to cast white actors in Akira would offend both Asians and the fans of the original manga or animated film.
Warner Bros. obtained the rights from Manga Publisher Kodansha back in 2002 with a view to make two films from a three book series. Mad Chance’s Lazar is producing with Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson.