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The Drill Down

Director Taika Waititi Will Begin Shooting His Live-Action ‘Akira’ Film This July

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Taika Waititi

If you’ve ever seen the 80s futuristic anime Akira, then you’ll be happy to know that New Zealand based filmmaker Taika Waititi is the man behind its live-action remake. Although the film’s actors haven’t been announced yet, Waititi plans to avoid the same mistakes that Ghost In The Shell made by casting Asian teens as its stars. Read on to learn more about Waititi’s plan to start production for Akira film this July.

Psychic City

Taking place in the dystopian future of 2019, the original 1988 Akira film was set in Neo-Tokyo, Japan. Based off of the manga of the same name, the OG Akira follows the adventures of motorcycle gang leader Shōtarō Kaneda and his telepathic friend Tetsuo Shima. Once Tetsuo unleashes his extraordinary psychic powers on the world, the two basically go to war against the nation’s super secretive Japan Self-Defense Forces. With a whopping $9 million spent on the film’s production, Akira broke records as one of the most expensive animes ever made.

If you thought that a live-action version of Akira would be difficult to make, then you’d probably be right. In fact, a real-life version of the classic anime has apparently been in the works since 2011. Many directors have been rumored to be involved with the project, including George Miller, Christopher Nolan, Justin Lin, and Jordan Peele. Yet, the legendary remake finally found the right man for the job with director Taika Waititi. Reportedly, Waititi had been talking about the film since the fall of 2017. Several months later, his stunning work on Thor: Ragnarok cemented his comic book street cred for the live-action Akira. 

Revisiting Neo-Tokyo

Ever since Waititi confirmed his involvement with Akira in September 2017, he has been planning to release his version of the animeHowever, the director has been busy working on other projects. His latest film, the satirical comedy Jojo Rabbit, will be premiering in theaters this October. Waititi also put his voice acting skills to work in the Disney + online TV series The Mandalorian. Thankfully, Waititi was inspired to begin production on Akira after received a pretty hefty California tax incentive for his movie. The film’s synopsis also shows some significant alterations from its cartoon storyline.

The media outlet Discussing Film shared that Waititi’s Akira is set to embark on its production schedule this July. Not only is Waititi directing the film, but he’s supposedly helping to write the screenplay with Asian-American scriptwriter Michael Golamco. Although Warner Bros. has yet to comment on this collaboration, Waititi did confirm his involvement with the film in 2017. During an interview with IGN, Waititi announced: “I was in talks to do that, for sure, and something that I was very passionate about – am passionate about…I actually love the books. Love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie.” Apparently, Waititi’s Akira will be way more similar to the original manga than the 1988 film.

The Legend Of Akira

Nonetheless, anime lovers everywhere are excited for Taika’s version of Akira to be released. One of the most important differences about Waititi’s remake and other anime turned live-action films is that Taika’s dead-set on keeping it true to its Asian roots. When asked about his choice of casting by IGN, Waititi responded that “Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent.” With the What We Do In The Shadow star’s focus on the anime’s original manga, Akira aficionados might be in for some interesting surprises along the way. Waititi’s live-action version will definitely keep fans on their toes!

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