“Akira” is live and well, and it still looks like the final product will still be anglicized beyond recognition.
Jaume Collet-Serra is the new director for the live-action version of the film, replacing Albert Hughes, who left the project in May. Collet-Serra is best known for his work in the 2011 film “Unknown” starring Liam Neeson and January Jones. He also directed the pilot for the series “The River” starring Thomas Kretschmann, Bruce Greenwood and Joe Anderson.
Warner Bros. is producing the film, which is based on the anime created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Yet, Warner Bros. is staying away from the Japanese roots of the film, and instead looking to Americanize the creation.
That has grabbed the attention of legendary “Star Trek” actor George Takei, a Japanese-American, who is against replacing what he believes should be a primarily Asian cast.
Many news outlets had been reporting throughout the weekend that “Akira” had, in fact, died. That even drew a celebratory cry from Takei. But the announcement on Friday that Collet-Serra would direct means that the project will continue in some shape or form.
“Akira” is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo about Kaneda, a motorcycle gang member, who has to deal with his best friend, Testuo, taking on uncontrollable powers.
The original feature-length animated film — with amazingly cool motorcycles — was released in 1989 in the United States on home video, but made a theatrical debut in 2001. It’s considered by many a landmark anime film, and is among the top anime films on many critics’ list.
A live-action version of the film has been in the works since the 1990s, first with Sony Pictures, and later with Warner Bros.
Many actors have been rumored to be attached to the project — including Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves — but there have been no film casting as of yet.