Akira is a 1988 Japanese anime film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, the film follows the story of a teenage biker gang leader named Kaneda and his friend Tetsuo, who develops psychic powers after a government experiment goes wrong.
The film is known for its intense action scenes, detailed animation, and thought-provoking themes, such as government corruption, power, and the consequences of technological advancement.
Akira was groundbreaking in the anime industry and has been highly influential in Japanese animation, Western science fiction, and pop culture.
Despite initial criticism for its mature themes and violent content, Akira has become a classic and is considered one of the greatest anime films of all time.
Akira remains a significant cultural touchstone, inspiring countless other works and influencing the development of the anime genre even today.
After he directed the successful 2017 horror Get Out for his big-screen debut, which established the director as a hot up-and-coming star in Hollywood, Peele was recruited to work on a live-action adaptation of the popular anime.
When Warner Bros. contacted Peele about the Akira remake, he apparently gave it some serious thought. But in the end, Peele turned down the offer and continued to work on Us.
Peele said recently on an episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, “It’s a project I’m so passionate about. I’m glad I didn’t do it because I feel like staying away from that, trying to interpret that IP, just set me on the path to creating something new."
He continued on to say he still wants to see an adaptation of Akira come to life on the big screen. "I want to see Neo-Tokyo. I want to see an all-Japanese cast. I want to feel immersed in the world, the way of the films in the manga.”
In January 2012, Warner Bros. finally put Collet-"Akira" Serra's on hold before secretly ending that version of the movie. Although it's probable that the film's whitewashing criticisms played a role in the studio's decision, it was stated that the studio was more worried about the financial risks posed by the movie and sought to lower its budget to $60-70 million. In the years that followed, several directors (including Justin Lin and Jordan Peele) were wooed to helm a reimagined version of the film before Taika Waititi's involvement.
Waititi pledged in October 2017, not long after joining the project, that he wouldn't make the same error with his live-action Akira film as Collet-version Serra's had: whitewashing the actors. He also stated that he would "probably want to pull it a bit back more towards the [comic] books," implying that his movie would be more loyal to Otomo's anime feature and manga series than what Collet-Serra had intended.
It appeared for a while in 2019 that Waititi would follow up Jojo Rabbit with Akira as his next movie to the helm. He decided to squeeze in Next Goal Wins a sports dramedy, before switching to Thor: Love and Thunder with the intention of returning to Akira later. However, along the way, he was hired to oversee a new "Star Wars" film and two episodes of the HBO Max comedy series Our Flag Means Death (where he plays the infamous pirate Blackbeard).
In addition to the numerous other non-Akira projects he has in the works, Waititi recently disclosed that he is preparing to direct a movie based on the science fiction graphic novel The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius.
This doesn't mean He's not on board for Akira or that it's still not in the works. We can see it's just not on the top of Hollywood's to-do list.
Are you hoping to see more news on a live-action take on the influencing anime? Let us know in the comments!