Warner Bros. has been trying to make a live-action feature film version of the beloved cyberpunk/body horror anime and manga Akira and their development goes back almost twenty years starting with Stephen Norrington (Blade) in 2002.
Multiple directors had tried to bring the project to the big screen only for things dissolve and the next set of creatives being hired.
The most recent incarnation had Oscar-winner Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) attempting to adapt for the studio, but seemingly hit a brick wall when trying to make sure he was able to cast a string of young Asian kids for the roles. Warner Bros. had been trying to whitewash the project for ages and even relocate the extremely Japanese story to Manhattan.
There had been an assumption that Taika Waititi had moved to bigger and brighter things with an original Star Wars movie on the horizon and his Flash Gordon movie at 20th Century Fox being upgraded from animation to live-action.
While promoting his acting performance in Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy, he spoke to Wired giving the impression he’s still involved with Akira and hasn’t entirely walked away from it.
“I’m still trying [to make it]. I don’t wanna give up on that.”
Given his busy schedule and admitting his focus is now on his Star Wars project, it’s unlikely he’ll pivot to Akira anytime soon.
The last big anime adaptation was DreamWorks’ box office flop Ghost In The Shell, hopefully, Warner Bros. learns their lesson from that disaster.
If you’re interested in the development of Akira, you can read a feature I wrote for IGN covering the history of live-action adaptation and it includes a heap of concept artwork from various incarnations.
AKIRA – In 1988 the Japanese government drops an atomic bomb on Tokyo after ESP experiments on children go awry. In 2019, 31 years after the nuking of the city, Kaneda, a bike gang leader, tries to save his friend Tetsuo from a secret government project. He battles anti-government activists, greedy politicians, irresponsible scientists and a powerful military leader until Tetsuo’s supernatural powers suddenly manifest. A final battle is fought in Tokyo Olympiad exposing the experiment’s secrets.