The Akira Issue

If your any fan of anime/manga, I'm sure you have heard about this upcoming Akira american adaptation of the 1988 Katshiro Otomo classic...and the controversy surrounding it.

First off, for those who don't know, Akira is this psychological thriller that encompasses many themes that include corruption of power, super-human abilities, bildungsroman , and tons of other issues that I can't even began to cover and won't. Basically, if you haven't seen it, SEE IT. Before this new film completely butchers it.
Its among anime staples (some may argue) such as Ghost In The Shell, Vampire Hunter D, Grave of Fireflies, Millennium Actress, Princess Mononoke, etc

Phew. So, a few months ago I heard that Leonard Di Caprio (of all people), bought the rights for the movie. Immediately, I was weary but then I read that Otomo himself was going to be one of the producers (as well as Di Caprio) for the movie-so it can't be all that horrible right?

So currently, Warner Bro's is negotiating with the Hughes bro's to remake a live action version of the movie.

Thats great and all but the question is-who will be cast?

I'm a HARDCORE advocate for Asian men getting more roles in Hollywood (And not just that martial arts crap). Why does it matter to me? I'm not really sure but I think they have gotten nearly as bad a rep as black women have in Hollywood (same roles much?). And Ninja Assassin was disappointing, no matter how hot Rain was (That's Jung Jihoon to you!)
Anyway, I saw who they were honestly thinking of casting as leads and I'm not going to lie to you guys, I'm starting to sweat bullets about this one.

I mean, this could potentially be a BREAKOUT role for anyone if casted.

James McAvoy?
Andrew Garfield?

I flew into nerd rage.
And apparently, the only Asians they MAY cast will be extras and/or just Asian girls in various roles. -_-

(And am I the only one pissed off that its going to be in 'New Manhattan?' and not freaking 'Ne0 Tokyo?' like in the actual story)

I realize, they are JUST in the beginning stages, so I shouldn't be freaking out that much. I hope the Japanese are just as furious about this as I am and ARE NOT pandering to Western sensibilities just because they like it. Have a voice and really complain about this you guys.

Just look this up and see the other fans enraged by this. I know I'm not the only one.

For the love of God, Otomo, say something!


Mouroblog said…
hello and I identified with his writing, his blog with his life. Why? because I'm black and I'm Heagbauger ie like heavy, thrash, doom, black metal.
Were you looking for bands from Africa and I miss this culture within the metal, I feel a very strong force that is growing is that racism in the metal, so I do not know but do not worry ...
Here in Brazil I also feel excluded and I married a wife who likes traditional music site is already outgrown but quite complicated.
I would like to exchange ideas and thoughts, not to mention that the bands here are pretty good
This is my email. you can talk with Windows Live Messenger with this address if you want thanks
Kelly said…
I'm a big Akira fan, but I'm also a big DiCaprio fan. Everything he's done post-Titanic (i.e., after he got a blank check to do whatever he wants) has been great. And here's my take on the change: Someone decided they had to Westernize it. Let's face it, it's a pretty weird story that's not going to connect with most Americans on a lot of levels. So, to sell it (maybe to financiers, or maybe it was an artistic choice/sacrifice) they had to Americanize it. Which means changing it to "New Manhattan" and changing the characters to a more Americanized mix.
Kraas said…
I sorta have the feeling this is going to go the way of Avatar: The Last Airbender: chock full of white people and Narm (read TV Tropes).
Kelly said…
@ Kraas: I see the problem with the Airbender movie, since the cultures and setting were clearly based on East Asia. But there's nothing inherently Japanese about a cyberpunk future world, or anything else in Akira for that matter.

By that I don't mean that the story could have come from a Western writer. It is very Japanese in some ways, but they are subtler ways, with nothing overt.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, the Airbender stuff--even though it is an American series--makes more sense to cast as Asian as possible, due to its plot/setting. But with Akira--even though it's a Japanese film--has nothing to it that requires it to be cast ethnically in any particular way.
Nikolai said…
BGIHM, Hollywood always does this. This same case you're making could be applied to Avatar the Last Airbender (directed, of all things, by a South Asian man), Sci-Fi's Earthsea adaptation, hell, they adapted Let The Right One In for a "Western" (read: dumb, illiterate) audience and that novel/movie is from Sweeden!
At this point, if I see an adaptation coming out, I prepare myself for suck.
Nikolai said…
Oh, I see Airbender was already commented on.
@Nikolai: Welcome to the Blog! Anyway, Let The Right One In really pissed me off. Simply because it was great how it was. The American adaptation made me sleepy and I thought the girl they cast was not as brutal. I guess I just believe if there isn't anything wrong with it in the first place, why change it?
Anonymous said…
Luke sez:

Most Japanese people have never seen Akira, and don't even know what it is, for them it's just one of thousands of anime films to come out that year, I honestly don't think they'll be that upset about the remake, because they have no special attachment to the original like we do.
Grim said…
Ugh. UGH. UUUGH. I don't even want to think about this but I... I can't just... ignore it. I LOVE AKIRA, and all this remake bullshit is seriously driving me crazy.

Especially because Hollywood looooves whitewashing almost as much as it loves money. There are so many amazing actors they could cast to play all these characters, but they keep casting them as white people and UGH.

Especially annoying with AKIRA because, (and I seriously disagree with a previous commenter about AKIRA not being Japanese enough or something) the whole story IS so deeply, inherently Japanese in nature and history, how could they even fucking consider not setting it where it's supposed to be set, and casting Japanese people in it?


I agree with previous post about Let the Right One In, also. Also about Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which they tamed down in the subtitles of the Swedish version, and then remade it into something EVEN MORE unbearably offensive to people who have actually been victims of sexual abuse. I can't imagine they wouldn't horribly mutilate AKIRA the same way.
Yes! 3 for my team

2 for Kelly.

I agree!
Anyway, Look, I don't have any problem with white people. And if they are going to make it *gulp* in neo manhattan or whatever, I at least want to see a fresh face THAT CAN ACT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

But I'm glad I'm not the only one pissed about it. (Ugh, I feel like a Hunger Games fan after the whole Rue scandal. This is different though)

White people are cool and everything, but I would really like to see a mostly japanese cast make this movie BAD ASS like its intended to be. The JAPANESE vision for this movie. If its terrible that way, then maybe I would settle for an american remake. But the first live action has got to be japanese.

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