Futuristic post-war cities, biker gangs, secret government stuff and physic powers that turn you into a cyborg blob of trash. Yep, that’s Akira summed up ( Yes, I know Akira is so much more than that, but I’m trying to save time here). Now, what from this will make it into the upcoming Americanized live-action adaptation? Well, for the most part, everything. Besides the profession of Kaneda, his relationship to Tetsuo and Neo-Tokyo being re-dubbed Neo-Manhattan, nothing else seems to have strayed too far from the source material. Our friends at Bleeding Cool got their bleedin’ fingers on a casting call, which details the main beats of the Akira story:
Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother, Tetsuo, is abducted by government agents led by The Colonel.
Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join with Ky Reed and her underground movement who are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City thirty years ago when it was destroyed. Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous but after finding his brother again, is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers.
Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy, Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind. Kaneda clashes with The Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira but arrives too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo as Kaneda races in to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island, as he did thirty years ago.
OK, so changing the country/city, race, relationship and occupations of the main characters are pretty fucking big changes, but I’m optimistic. I know there are anime fans out there who think this live-action adaption is a blasphemous slap in the face to the Japanese gods, but I’m willing to give Hollywood a chance. While I give a stern stink eye to the liberties taken with the source material and the abhorrent whitewashing, I think America has a pretty good track record as of late when it comes to adapting comic books. Some of the most successful comic adaptions have departed from the source material quite a bit; Kick-Ass, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight, X-Men First Class. On the other hand, the same cannot be said for Anime adaptions. I’m still recovering from the swift kick to the balls The Last Airbender and Dragon Ball Evolution gave me. Look, people have the right to complain. When something is part of pop culture we, the fans, have ownership in it. Face-lifts, modifications, divergence to the shit we love is not taken bloody lightly, but much can be forgiven in favor of faith to subtext and tone. I think Hollywood has been killin’ it lately with comic adaptations, so I’m gonna reserve my judgment on this one. How about you?