After years of rumors and false starts, Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic manga Akira is finally getting its long-mooted live-action film adaptation, directed by Thor: Ragnarok's Taika Waititi and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's production house Appian Way. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the film is slated for a May 21 2021 release.
The US remake looks set to depart from the 1988 Japanese anime in a number of ways. An Instagram post shared by Production Weekly showed the new film's synopsis, revealing that the location has been moved from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan. On top of that, one of the film's leading characters, Kaneda, won't be a member of a biker gang as in the original, but instead a bar owner. Likewise, Tetsuo — whose telekinetic powers are key to the narrative — will be Kaneda’s brother rather than his best friend.
While the prospect of a Hollywood live-action remake has always been contentious among Akira fans, Otomo appears to have given the project his blessing (of sorts).
In a recent interview, Otomo told Forbes, "When it comes to Akira, I have already finished the original manga and my own anime version, too. So, in that sense, I am basically done with Akira. If someone wants to do something new with Akira then I am mostly okay with that. As I accepted the offer for a live-action Akira to be made, so I am generally okay with whatever they want to do with it. However, I did give one major condition to a live-action version and that is that I had to check and approve the scenario.”
Production of the remake is expected to begin quite soon. For the film to take advantage of an $18.5 million tax credit from California's latest Film & TV Tax Credit Program, production will need to go ahead within the next six months.
In the meantime, remind yourself of the Japanese OG by watching the trailer below.