The Akira live-action movie is coming on May 21, 2021. The influential anime movie is being re-adapted into live-action by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Andrew Lazar. The original movie became one of the most influential anime films in history, giving the live-action version a big pair of shoes to fill.
Akira began as a manga in 1982, running until 1990 at the hands of writer and artist Katsuhiro Otomo. The cyberpunk series is set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo (though funnily enough, the film is set in 2019) and follows a teen named Tetsuo. Tetsuo is part of a biker gang in Neo Tokyo, living an average dystopian life with his friends. That is until he discovers he has telekinetic abilities powerful enough to threaten the world. The only person who can seemingly stop the now-godlike teen is his childhood friend Kaneda.
The 1988 anime movie became one of the most important movies of all time. Akira prompted heightened worldwide interest in anime and is credited with its increase in popularity outside of Japan as an entertainment medium. References to Akira permeate modern pop culture and it has influenced filmmakers across many genres.
The live-action Akira is being filmed entirely in California for over 71 days this year. The film had been in talks as early as 2002. After being held up in a long list of issues, including directors coming and going and accusations of whitewashing the cast, for a while it didn’t look like Akira could ever see the light of live-action. However, things seem to be back on track with Waititi moving the project forward and promising to hire young Asian teenagers for the cast, citing his intention to find “unknown talent” to fill the lead roles.
It looks like Akira might get the live-action version it deserves. That’s not to knock the original anime at all, but it will be interesting to see how this modern adaptation holds up.