For decades a live action adaptation of Akira has been in development hell. For those who are unaware of what Akira is, it started as a Japanese manga series written by Katsuhiro Otomo that ran from 1982 to 1990. The manga was famously adapted into an animated film in 1988. It has since been dubbed into English at least twice and has left an enormous impact on both Japanese anime and Western animation. The manga has even been redrawn in the Simpson style as the art project Bartkira.
Now decades after the anime’s release, director Taika Waititi has announced that a live action adaptation is happening, and according to the Hollywood Reporter it even has an official release date of May 21, 2021. Not much else is known about this live action Akira other than the fact that Warner Bros. studios is making it and Leonardo DiCaprio and Andrew Lazar will be producing it. Hopefully Akira will not resort to the disgusting practice of whitewashing its cast like other American anime adaptations (i.e. Ghost in the Shell), as its story relies heavily on its Japanese setting.
While the Akira anime differs a lot from the manga, both stories are set in the crime ridden streets of the cyber punk city Neo-Tokyo. The story takes place in the year 2019 where Neo-Tokyo is in civil disarray, but the Japanese government is too busy preparing for the Olympics to fix the city’s problems. Oddly enough, Akira predicted that Japan would be hosting the 2020 Olympics. Akira follows a young motorcycle riding delinquent Shōtarō Kaneda and his gang, Kei a protester, and Tetsuo, a friend of Kaneda who discovers that he has psychic powers. The plot of Akira is pretty complicated, and, given how it deviates significantly from the manga, who knows how this new adaptation will handle this story.