Anime fans are diehard, and they will assemble on the internet to make their grievances known. Just look at the negative reactions to this year’s Ghost in the Shell and Death Note! Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s 1988 masterpiece Akira might be the most sacred anime of all. Any director who chooses to helm a live-action reboot will be forced to undertake an uphill battle. Well, director of Thor: Ragnarok Taika Waititi may just accept the challenge.
Waititi has proven himself to a be versatile comedic filmmaker with the underrated Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, and the purposefully cringey comedy Eagle vs Shark. It remains to be seen how he handles massively budgeted action epics, although every trailer for Thor: Ragnarok promises kaleidoscopic eye-candy and tongue-in-cheek fun. However, Waititi’s filmography does not make him the obvious choice to direct a cyberpunk film about government experiments on children gone awry. (Jordan Peele was an even less obvious choice but he was in talks to direct for a moment as well.)
Furthermore, Warner Bros. wants to divide the six-volume manga into two films. The decision to spread the story across multiple films increases the likelihood of an unfinished franchise if the first entry flops.
Although all signs point to this being a bad idea (rabid fans, a massive budget requirement, a risk of controversial casting decisions), Waititi, alongside Edgar Wright and James Gunn, is a consistently innovative filmmaker. Let’s hope Akira isn’t the film that sinks his career, and if all else fails, he can always return to low-budget comedy.