If the last few years have shown moviegoers anything, it is that Hollywood loves re-imagining classic works of anime, manga and Asian-inspired Western cartoons as live-action blockbusters.
We’ve also been shown that, more often than not, these live-action adaptations are mostly awful, marred by bad acting, poor interpretations of the source material and inexcusable whitewashing that all but guarantee their failure. Take Ghost in the Shell and Dragonball Evolution, for example.
So, it’s not surprising that Katsuhiro Otomo – the creator of the classic Akira manga and the director of its arguably even more beloved animated film – is a little apprehensive about a live-action production.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Otomo discussed his illustrious creative career. As 2017 marks the 35th anniversary of Akira, he specifically reflected on his long relationship with the franchise.
What may surprise some fans is that he disliked the animated film, at least at first:
“Actually, when I saw the first rush of the movie version of Akira I thought it would be a failure. I left the theater very quickly and came back home to tell my wife that the movie was a failure. This was because I thought the first half was good but because the time and budget was limited, with so many cuts, the quality dropped as the story developed. In general, I thought the picture quality and cut quality went down when the movie went into the latter half. So when I saw the movie’s quality decline as I watched it made me feel miserable.”
Thankfully, Otomo fell in love with his creation again once the film underwent a few revisions in production. This love is one of the many reasons why Otomo is so protective of the franchise now as Warner Bros. looks to add to its legacy.
“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.
“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.”
Otomo will have to wait a while before giving his final blessing. Warner Bros. recently tried to court Get Out director Jordan Peele for the film and, while a big fan, he ultimately turned down the offer to focus on original content.
There has yet to be any updates on the film since Peele’s announcement.
Are you worried about the latest attempts to make a live-action Akira film? Do you think Otomo is justifiably protective of his work, given all the recent issues around adapting non-Western creations? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!