This is not a drill, people. The long-in-development live-action “Akira” film has a release date. It’s really happening this time. And we can thank/blame filmmaker Taika Waititi for that.
According to THR, Warner Bros. has officially set May 21, 2021 as the day that the world will get to see what Waititi has done with the classic manga and animated film, “Akira.” Long considered one of the best examples of both the manga and Japanese animation mediums, “Akira” has lingered in development for decades now, with various writers, directors, and actors coming and going. And while we don’t have a cast at this time, or many details, we do know that it’s happening. Officially.
Back in April, it was reported, surprisingly, that “Akira” had scored some tax credits and was shooting for a production start date, with Waititi behind the camera. Many considered that wishful thinking on the part of the studio, as we’ve heard about these sorts of false starts with the film for years. However, with a release date announced, this really does seem like we’re going to get the live-action version of the ‘80s comic book and 1988 animated feature.
Of course, production date and release date are just a couple of the hurdles the film has in front of it. Sure, Taika Waititi is a super-talented director, with a number of great films in his IMDB, but the success of a live-action “Akira” relies on much, much more than that.
The story of “Akira” follows the rebuilt Neo Tokyo, after it was the location of a major bomb-like catastrophe. The plot kicks into high gear when a motorcycle gang finds one of its members caught up in a government program to unlock vast mental powers, which has the potential to lead to yet another major tragedy.
We’ve seen American studios attempt to bring anime to live-action in the past, with terrible results, such as “Dragon Ball” and “Ghost in the Shell.” In addition to a variety of storytelling issues, there were controversies over white-washing after the casting was announced for both films. The first major barrier in the minds of fans will be the film’s setting and its cast. Neo Tokyo is such a huge part of the original franchise, it would be weird to set it in Neo New York or Neo Los Angeles (as many believe will happen). Plus, with character names like Kaneda, Tetsuo, and Kaori, it’ll be difficult to cast people like Leonardo DiCaprio (who produces this version and was rumored to star, at one point).
But alas, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, we can just say that the live-action “Akira” will arrive in theaters on May 21, 2021.