Hollywood and anime don’t mix well, and the creator of Akira knows it. Earlier this year, Ghost in the Shell became the latest anime to fall victim to Hollywood when its live-action take bombed at the box office. As of late, reports have surfaced that Warner Bros. wants to take a go now and bring Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira to the big screen.
There’s just one problem. The creator isn’t too keen on anyone touching his iconic series.
In a rare interview, Otomo recently spoke with Forbes to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Akira. It was there the creator shared his thoughts on Warner Bros. and its hopes to make a live-action movie of Akira.
“While I haven’t seen the new live-action Ghost in the Shell, 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,” he said.
“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.”
For fans, the creator’s last nod is of particular note. Otomo is notoriously protective of Akira, so it makes sense that the artist would’ve required any film agreement to give him oversight over the project. If Warner Bros. wants to make a live-action Akira movie, it will have to get Otomo’s blessing. And, given the film’s recent development issues, it may be awhile until Otomo signs off on the film.
Still, the creator isn’t afraid to see Warner Bros. play with the universe of Akira. Otomo admitted adapting a manga is hard because it comes with predetermined visuals, but a studio does have creative license to make changes as needed.
As always, the fundamental question on adapting anything is whether you follow the host work strictly or do something new with it, that is a never-ending discussion I think. This is especially true for film-based adaptations from novels, as the reader has to use their own imagination to bring it to life. Readers inherently have their own interpretation. That often means a movie’s production has more creative freedom. That said, with things like manga it means the story already comes with very specific visuals. That makes it much harder for a film’s production to go their own way with it. Personally, I think being entirely bound to the original manga of something like Akira would not make any sense as a movie. As for what I would do in terms of adapting Akira into my own live-action movie, I really don’t want to do that. I would much rather do something entirely new and separate.
You can read the synopsis of the original Akira anime film below:
“Neo-Tokyo is about to E X P L O D E!
Akira isn’t just a movie – it’s the genesis of a genre. Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like the The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality. Without Kaneda and Tetsuo, without espers and psionic assassins, without that badass motorcycle – our world would be a far less exciting place to exist. But the manga became the movie and the movie became a phenomenon and the world took notice. Now, Akira is everywhere. If you can’t see it in the streets – if you can’t feel it crawling around inside your brain – then you have yet to be initiated. What. Are. You. Waiting. For? “