Akira (1988 film)
Japanese theatrical poster
|Directed by||Katsuhiro Otomo|
by Katsuhiro Otomo
|Music by||Shōji Yamashiro|
|Edited by||Takeshi Seyama|
|Budget||¥1.1 billion ($9 million)|
¥750 million ($6 million)
Akira (Japanese: アキラ Hepburn: Akira) is a 1988 Japanese animated post-apocalyptic cyberpunk film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, produced by Ryōhei Suzuki and Shunzō Katō, and written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto, based on Otomo's manga of the same name. The film had a production budget of ¥1.1 billion ($9 million), making it the most expensive anime film of its time.
Set in a dystopian 2019, Akira tells the story of Shōtarō Kaneda, a leader of a local biker gang whose childhood friend, Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic abilities after a motorcycle accident, eventually threatening an entire military complex amidst chaos and rebellion in the sprawling futuristic metropolis of Neo-Tokyo. While most of the character designs and settings were adapted from the manga, the plot differs considerably and removes much of the last half of the manga.
Akira premiered in Japan on 16 July 1988 by Toho, and was released the following year in the United States by pioneering animation distributor Streamline Pictures. It garnered an international cult following following its theatrical release, and eventually grossed over $80 million worldwide through its theatrical and VHS releases. It is widely considered by many critics to be one of the greatest animated and science fiction films of all time, as well as a landmark in Japanese animation. It is also a landmark film in the cyberpunk genre, particularly the Japanese cyberpunk subgenre. The film had a significant impact on popular culture worldwide, paving the way for the growth of anime and Japanese popular culture in the Western world as well as influencing numerous works in animation, comics, film, music, television and video games.
In July 1988, a blinding white singularity destroys Tokyo, resulting in World War III. By 2019, Tokyo, now called “Neo-Tokyo,” has been rebuilt, but is plagued by corruption, anti-government protests and terrorism, and gang violence. One night, during a large protest, the hot-headed Shōtarō Kaneda leads his vigilante bōsōzoku gang, the Capsules, against their rivals, the Clowns. During this mission, Kaneda's best friend, Tetsuo Shima, inadvertently crashes his motorcycle into Takashi, a psychic esper who recently escaped from a government laboratory with the aid of a resistance organization. The accident awakens psychic powers in Tetsuo, attracting the attention of a secret government project directed by Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) Colonel Shikishima. Assisted by esper Masaru, Shikishima recaptures Takashi, takes the injured Tetsuo with him, and arrests Kaneda and his gang. While being interrogated by the police, he meets Kei, an activist belonging to the resistance movement, and tricks the authorities into releasing her along with his gang, taking an interest in her.
Shikishima and his head of research, Doctor Ōnishi discover that Tetsuo possesses powerful psychic abilities similar to Akira, the esper responsible for Tokyo's destruction. Meanwhile, Takashi's fellow esper, Kiyoko, forewarns Shikishima of Neo-Tokyo's impending destruction. Neo-Tokyo's parliament, however, dismisses Shikishima's concerns, so he considers killing Tetsuo in order to prevent another cataclysm. Meanwhile, Tetsuo escapes from the hospital, steals Kaneda's motorcycle, and prepares to run away from Neo-Tokyo with his girlfriend Kaori, but the Clowns ambush them, prompting the Capsules to intervene. While the Capsules are apprehending them, Tetsuo suffers headaches and hallucinations, and is taken back to the hospital. Searching for answers about Tetsuo, Kaneda finds Kei and joins her resistance cell after overhearing their plan to rescue Tetsuo and the other espers. At the hospital, the espers unsuccessfully attempt to confront and control Tetsuo as he aggressively fights back with his psychokinetic powers, which make him egomaniacal and unstable, and escapes again. Meanwhile, Kaneda, Kei, and the resistance group infiltrate the hospital and find themselves drawn into Shikishima and the espers' attempt to stop Tetsuo. He overpowers them all and leaves the hospital after learning from Kiyoko that he can gain help from Akira, located in cryonic storage beneath the Olympic Stadium's construction site.
Using Kei as a medium, Kiyoko and Kaneda escape military custody in the hope of stopping Tetsuo, while Shikishima stages a coup d'état against the Neo-Tokyo government and directs all of its military forces to destroy Tetsuo. Returning to the Capsules' former hangout to obtain drugs to control his powers, Tetsuo murders his old gang member, Yamagata; upon discovering his death, Kaneda vows to avenge him by searching for Tetsuo. Tetsuo rampages through Neo-Tokyo, eventually arriving at Akira's cryogenic storage dewar in the stadium. Kiyoko has Kei fight Tetsuo, but he easily defeats her and exhumes Akira's remains which were dissected, and preserved for future studies. Using a laser rifle, Kaneda fights Tetsuo in a duel; meanwhile, Shikishima fires an orbital weapon at him but is unsuccessful.
Shikishima and Kaori approach the stadium where Tetsuo is hiding out at in great pain and losing control over his powers. Shikishima offers Tetsuo to return to the hospital and help with his injuries and pain, and to help him control his abilities, while Kaori attempts to restrain Tetsuo. However, Kaneda arrives and duels with Tetsuo once again. Losing control of his powers, Tetsuo mutates into a gigantic mass consuming all matter, engulfing Kaneda and killing Kaori. As the mass continues to grow, the espers decide to awaken Akira as the only way to stop it. After reuniting with his friends, Akira creates another singularity that draws Tetsuo and Kaneda into another dimension. The espers teleport Shikishima to a safe distance as the singularity destroys Neo-Tokyo in a mirror of Tokyo's previous destruction, and they agree to rescue Kaneda, knowing that they will not be able to return to this dimension.
In the singularity, Kaneda experiences Tetsuo's and the espers' childhood, including Tetsuo's dependence on Kaneda during their childhood, and how the children were trained and altered before Tokyo's destruction. The espers return Kaneda to his world, informing him that Akira will take Tetsuo to safety and that Kei is developing psychic powers. The singularity suddenly disappears and water floods the city's remains. In the aftermath, Kaneda discovers that Kei and Kai have survived, and they drive off into the ruins, while Shikishima watches the sunrise. Finally in control of his powers, Tetsuo triggers a big bang to create a parallel universe as God.
|Characters||Japanese voice actor||English voice actor
(Electric Media/Kodansha/Streamline, 1989)
|English voice actor|
|Shōtarō Kaneda||Mitsuo Iwata||Cam Clarke (Jimmy Flinders)||Johnny Yong Bosch|
|Tetsuo Shima||Nozomu Sasaki||Jan Rabson (Stanley Gurd Jr.)||Joshua Seth|
|Kei||Mami Koyama||Lara Cody (Deanna Morris) as Kay||Wendee Lee|
|Colonel Shikishima||Tarō Ishida||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy)||Jamieson Price (James Lyon)|
|Doctor Ōnishi||Mizuho Suzuki||Lewis Arquette (Lewis Lemay)||Simon Prescott (Simon Isaacson)|
|Ryūsaku (Ryu)||Tesshō Genda (Tetsusho Genda)||Steve Kramer (Drew Thomas) as Roy||Bob Buchholz (Robert Wicks)|
|Kiyoko (No. 25)||Fukue Itō (Sachie Ito)||Melora Harte (Marilyn Lane)||Sandy Fox|
|Takashi (No. 26)||Tatsuhiko Nakamura||Barbara Goodson (Barbara Larsen)||Cody MacKenzie|
|Masaru (No. 27)||Kazuhiro Kamifuji (Kazuhiro Kando)||Bob Bergen (Bob Berger)|
|Kaori||Yuriko Fuchizaki||Barbara Goodson (Barbara Larsen)||Michelle Ruff (Georgette Rose)|
|Yamagata||Masaaki Ōkura||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy) as Yama||Michael Lindsay (Dylan Tully)|
|Kaisuke (Kai)||Takeshi Kusao||Bob Bergen (Bob Berger)||Anthony Pulcini (Tony Sarducci)|
|Nezu||Hiroshi Ōtake||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy) as Insider||Mike Reynolds (Ray Michaels)|
|Terrorist 1||Masato Hirano||Lewis Arquette (Lewis Lemay)||Steve Blum (David Lucas)|
|Terrorist 2||Yukimasa Kishino||Wally Burr (Burt Walters)||Michael McConnohie|
|Shimazaki||Yukimasa Kishino||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy)||Robert Axelrod|
|Colonel's Council Liaison||Kōichi Kitamura||Lewis Arquette (Lewis Lemay) as Senator||Michael Forest (Alfred Thor)|
|Eiichi Watanabe||Tarō Arakawa||Bob Bergen (Bob Berger)||Eddie Frierson (Christy Mathewson)|
|Mitsuru Kuwata||Yukimasa Kishino||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy)||Jonathan C. Osborne|
|Yūji Takeyama||Masato Hirano||Jan Rabson (Stanley Gurd Jr.)||Skip Stellrecht (Henry Douglas Grey)|
|Lara Cody (Deanna Morris)
Barbara Goodson (Barbara Larsen)
|Julie Ann Taylor (Jean Howard)|
Patricia Ja Lee
Dyanne DiRosario (Bambi Darro)
|Lady Miyako||Kōichi Kitamura||Steve Kramer (Drew Thomas)||William Frederick Knight (William Frederick)|
|Inspector||Michihiro Ikemizu||Bob Bergen (Bob Berger)||Steve Staley (Steve Cannon)|
|Army||Kazumi Tanaka||Steve Kramer (Drew Thomas)||Tony Oliver (Rafael Antonio Oliver)|
|Harukiya Bartender||Yōsuke Akimoto||Tony Pope (Anthony Mozdy)||John Snyder (Ivan Buckley)|
While working on the Akira comic, Katsuhiro Otomo did not intend to adapt the series outside of the manga; however, he became "very intrigued" when the offer to develop his work for the screen was put before him. He agreed to an anime film adaptation of the series on the grounds that he retained creative control of the project — this insistence was based on his experiences working on Harmagedon. The Akira Committee was the name given to a partnership of several major Japanese entertainment companies brought together to realize production of an Akira film. The group's assembly was necessitated by the unconventionally high budget of around ¥1,100,000,000, intended to achieve the desired epic standard equal to Otomo's over 2,000-page manga tale. The committee consisted of Kodansha, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Bandai, Hakuhodo, Toho, Laserdisc Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation who all forwarded money and promotion towards the film. The animation for the film was provided for by animation producers, Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now TMS Entertainment).
At the time, most anime were notorious for cutting production corners with limited animation, such as having only the characters' mouths move with basic lip sync while their faces remained static. Akira broke from this trend with detailed scenes, pre-scored dialogue (wherein the dialogue is recorded before the film starts production and the movements of the characters' lips are animated to match it; a first for an anime production, although the voice actors did perform with the aid of animatics), and super-fluid motion as realized in the film's more than 160,000 animation cels. Computer-generated imagery was also used in the film (created by High-Tech Lab. Japan Inc. and the cooperative companies for computer graphics, Sumisho Electronic Systems, Inc. and Wavefront Technologies), primarily to animate the pattern indicator used by Doctor Ōnishi, but it was additionally used to plot the paths of falling objects, model parallax effects on backgrounds, and tweak lighting and lens flares. Unlike its live-action predecessors, Akira also had the budget to show a fully realized futuristic Tokyo. The film's production budget was ¥1.1 billion ($9 million), making it the most expensive anime film of its time.
The teaser trailer for Akira was released in 1987. The film's main production was completed in 1987, with sound recording and mixing performed in early 1988. It was released in 1988, two years before the manga officially ended in 1990. Otomo is claimed to have filled 2,000 pages of notebooks, containing various ideas and character designs for the film, but the final storyboard consisted of a trimmed-down 738 pages. He had great difficulty completing the manga; Otomo has stated that the inspiration for its conclusion arose from a conversation that he had with Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1990. He later recalled that the film project had to begin with the writing of an ending that would bring suitable closure to major characters, storylines, and themes without being extraordinarily lengthy, so that he could know in reverse order which manga elements would make the cut into the anime and thus suitably resolve the manga's various elements into a lean, two-hour story.
Otomo is a big fan of Tetsujin 28-go. As a result, his naming conventions match the characters featured in Tetsujin 28-go: Kaneda shares his name with the protagonist of Tetsujin 28-go; Colonel Shikishima shares his name with Professor Shikishima of Tetsujin 28-go, while Tetsuo is named after Shikishima's son Tetsuo Shikishima; Akira's Ryūsaku is named after Ryūsaku Murasame. In addition, Takashi has a "26" tattooed on his hand which closely resembles the font used in Tetsujin 28-go. The namesake of the series, Akira, is the 28th in a line of psychics that the government has developed, the same number as Tetsujin-28.
Akira was released by Toho on 16 July 1988. Fledgling North American distribution company Streamline Pictures soon acquired an existing English-language rendition created by Electric Media Inc. for Kodansha, which saw limited release in North American theaters on 25 December 1989. Streamline became the film's distributor. In the UK, Akira was theatrically released by Island Visual Arts on 25 January 1991, and was re-released on 13 July 2013 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film and again on 21 September 2016. In Australia, Akira was theatrically released by Ronin Films. In Canada, the Streamline dub was released by Lionsgate (at the time known as C/FP Distribution), who would eventually become Manga Entertainment's owner through their media operating unit Starz Distribution, in 1990. In 2001, Pioneer released a new English dub which was produced by Animaze and ZRO Limit Productions and was presented in select theaters from March through December 2001. GKIDS later announced that it would distribute the film within North America, with a theatrical release scheduled for December 2018.
VHS releases included the initial Streamline Video offering (May 1991), later wider distribution by MGM/UA Home Video, and a subtitled edition from Orion Home Video (September 1993). In the UK, Akira was released on video by Island World Communications in 1991. The film went on to gross over $80 million worldwide from its theatrical and VHS releases. The success of this release led to the creation of Manga Entertainment, who later took over the release. The original VHS release of Akira started up Manga Entertainment Australia and VHS distribution was handled by Ronin Films and PolyGram until 1994 when Siren Entertainment took over all of Manga Entertainment Australia's distribution including Akira under a special license from PolyGram, who handled Island's video distribution. Akira was re-released on video in 1994, and again on DVD in 2001 and distributed by Madman Entertainment and The AV Channel. Pioneer Entertainment issued a DVD and a VHS with a new English dub (the dub produced by Animaze) in 2001. This was one of the few releases from Geneon to feature THX-certified audio and video. In 2002, Manga released a two-disc DVD featuring the new Pioneer/Animaze English dub followed in 2004 by another two-disc set containing the original Japanese as well as both the Streamline and Pioneer/Animaze dubs. This version did not contain standard English subtitles, only closed captioning subtitles. In 2005, Manga Entertainment and Boulevard UMD released Akira on UMD for the Sony PSP in the United Kingdom using the original Streamline dub.
In 1992, video-distribution company the Criterion Collection, which specializes in licensing "important classic and contemporary films", released a LaserDisc edition of Akira. The release is notable in that Akira is the first animated film to be released by Criterion and for more than twenty years their sole animated film to be released until their 2014 Blu-ray/DVD release of Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).
A Blu-ray disc edition of the film was released on 24 February 2009 in North America by Bandai Entertainment under the Honneamise label. A Blu-ray edition of Akira was subsequently released in Australia by Madman Entertainment under exclusive license from Manga Entertainment UK and Kodansha. Madman has recently released a DVD/Blu-ray combo which license is separate from the standalone Blu-ray release because instead of the DVD version being the Manga Video UK version, it uses Madman/Manga's 2001 Special Edition DVD release which is licensed from Manga UK. The Blu-ray release is the very first to use the highest sampling rate currently possible (Japanese Dolby TrueHD 192 kHz because of its analog roots) and is also the first to use the hypersonic effect (only available in this track and via a high-end audio system). As well as Japanese with English subtitles, the Blu-ray also features the 2001 Pioneer/Animaze English dub (Dolby TrueHD 48 kHz). The DVD version of Akira has been re-released in 2012 by Bandai Entertainment. The film was licensed again by Funimation following Bandai Entertainment's closure shortly after its DVD release. The Funimation release includes both the Streamline and Pioneer dubs. Funimation released the 25th anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo and separate DVD release on 12 November 2013, which contain both English dubs. Best Buy released a limited edition exclusive Blu-ray Steelbook the same year.
The Streamline dub version first premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s during their week-long anime events and Saturday Anime block.The Pioneer dub of the film has aired twice on Adult Swim's Toonami block, once on 7 December 2013, with a rating of TV-MA-V, and again on 20 December 2014, both times with explicit language and nudity censored. It has aired numerous times on Australian FTA station SBS.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval score of 87% based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Akira is distractingly bloody and violent, but its phenomenal animation and sheer kinetic energy helped set the standard for modern anime."
Anime News Network's Bamboo Dong commends the Limited Edition's DVD for its "superbly translated" English subtitles and the commendable English dubbing, which "sticks very close to the English translation, and the voice actors deliver their lines with emotion". THEM Anime's Raphael See applauds the film's "astounding special effects and clean, crisp animation". Chris Beveridge comments on the Japanese audio, which brings "the forward soundstage nicely into play when required. Dialogue is well placed, with several key moments of directionality used perfectly". Janet Maslin of The New York Times commends Otomo's artwork, stating "the drawings of Neo-Tokyo by night are so intricately detailed that all the individual windows of huge skyscrapers appear distinct. And these night scenes glow with subtle, vibrant color". Richard Harrison of The Washington Post comments on the pace of the film, stating that the author "has condensed the narrative sprawl of the comics to provide coherence, though there's a bit of "Back to the Future Part II" incompleteness to the story. That hardly matters, since the film moves with such kinetic energy that you'll be hanging on for dear life".
Variety commends the film's "imaginative and detailed design of tomorrow to the booming Dolby effects on the soundtrack" but criticizes the "slight stiffness in the drawing of human movement". Kim Newman of Empire commends the film's "scintillating animated visuals, with not one – not one – computer-assisted shot in sight". Chicago Tribune's Dave Kehr commends Otomo's "excellent animation-specific ideas: Vehicles leave little color trails as they roar through the night, and there are a number of dream sequences that make nice use of the medium`s ability to confound scale and distort perspective". Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies claims that the anime "remains fresh and exciting, easily holding its own against the products of two decades of massive technical advancement". Meanwhile, in February 2004, Dan Persons of Cinefantastique listed the film as one of the "10 Essential Animations", simply referring to the film as "the film that changed everything."
Akira is now widely regarded as one of the greatest animated movies of all time and prompted an increase in popularity of anime movies in the US and, generally, outside Japan. It is still admired for its exceptional visuals. In Channel 4's 2005 poll of the 100 greatest animations of all time featuring both film and television, Akira came in at number 16. On Empire magazine's list of the 500 greatest movies of all time, Akira is number 440. It showed again on Empire's list of The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema, coming in at #51. IGN also named it 14th on its list of Top 25 Animated Movies of All-Time. The Akira anime also made TIME magazine's list of top 5 anime DVDs. The film also made number 16 on Time Out's top 50 animated movie list and number 5 on the Total Film Top 50 Animated Films list. The film was ranked #1 on Wizard's Anime Magazine on their "Top 50 Anime released in North America". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times selected Akira as his "Video Pick of the Week" in 1992 on Siskel & Ebert and the Movies. For its wider 2001 release, he gave the film "Thumbs Up."
Akira has also been regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. It was ranked number 22 on The Guardian's list of best sci-fi and fantasy films, included on Film4's list of top 50 science fiction films, and ranked number 27 on Complex magazine's list of 50 best sci-fi movies. Phelim O'Neill of The Guardian draws a parallel on Akira's influence on the science-fiction genre to Blade Runner and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Akira is considered a landmark film in the cyberpunk genre, particularly the Japanese cyberpunk subgenre.
Akira is regarded by many critics as a landmark anime film, one that influenced much of the art in the anime world that followed its release with many illustrators in the manga industry citing the film as an important influence. Manga author Masashi Kishimoto, for example, recalls becoming fascinated with the way the poster was made and wished to imitate the series' creator Katsuhiro Otomo's style. The film had a significant impact on popular culture worldwide. The film led the way for the growth in popularity of anime outside Japan as well as Japanese popular culture in the Western world. Akira is considered a forerunner of the second wave of anime fandom that began in the early 1990s and has gained a massive cult following since then. It is credited with setting the scene for anime franchises such as Pokémon, Dragon Ball and Naruto to become global cultural phenomena.
Akira has influenced numerous works in animation, comics, film, music, television and video games. It inspired a wave of Japanese cyberpunk works, including manga and anime series such as Ghost in the Shell, Battle Angel Alita, Cowboy Bebop, and Serial Experiments Lain, live-action Japanese films such as Tetsuo: The Iron Man, and video games such as Hideo Kojima's Snatcher and Metal Gear Solid. Outside of Japan, Akira has been cited as a major influence on Hollywood films such as The Matrix, Chronicle, Looper, Midnight Special, and Inception, television shows such as Stranger Things, and video games such as Valve's Half-Life series and Dontnod Entertainment's Remember Me. John Gaeta cited Akira as artistic inspiration for the bullet time effect in The Matrix films. Akira has also been credited with influencing the Star Wars franchise, including the prequel film trilogy and the Clone Wars film and television series. Parodied in the south park episode “trapper keeper”  Akira has also influenced the work of musicians such as Kanye West, who paid homage to Akira in the "Stronger" music video, and Lupe Fiasco, whose album Tetsuo & Youth is named after Tetsuo Shima. The popular bike from the film, Kaneda's Motorbike, appears in Steven Spielberg's film Ready Player One, and CD Projekt's video game Cyberpunk 2077. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided video game developer Eidos Montréal also paid homage to the film's poster.
Johnny Yong Bosch, Kaneda's voice actor in the Pioneer English dub, was nominated for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Comedy at American Anime Awards, but lost to fellow Naruto and Persona voice actors Vic Mignogna and Dave Wittenberg, respectively.
|AKIRA: Original Soundtrack (Symphonic Suite AKIRA)|
|Soundtrack album by Geinō Yamashirogumi (芸能山城組)|
|Genre||Anime, film, gamelan, noh|
|Label||Victor Music Industries, Demon Records/JVC Records, Milan Records|
|Geinō Yamashirogumi (芸能山城組) chronology|
AKIRA: Original Soundtrack (Symphonic Suite AKIRA) was recorded by Geinō Yamashirogumi (芸能山城組). The music was composed and conducted by musical director Shōji Yamashiro (pseudonym of Tsutomu Ōhashi). It features music which was additionally re-recorded for release. "Kaneda", "Battle Against Clown" and "Exodus From the Underground Fortress" are really part of the same song cycle — elements of "Battle Against Clown" can be heard during the opening bike sequence, for example. The score is generally sequenced in the same order that the music occurs in the film. The North American version featured extensive production notes by David Keith Riddick and Robert Napton.
AKIRA: The Original Japanese Soundtrack; an alternate soundtrack was also released. This version included music as it appeared in the film with dialogue and sound-effects albeit ordered out of sequence.
In 1988, Taito released an Akira adventure game for the Famicom exclusively in Japan. Another Akira game for the Atari Jaguar, Super NES, Genesis and Sega CD was being developed, but cancelled along with prospects of another Akira title for the Game Boy and Game Gear handheld consoles. International Computer Entertainment produced a video game based on Akira for the Amiga and Amiga CD32 in 1994. To coincide with the DVD release in 2002, Bandai released Akira Psycho Ball, a pinball simulator for the PlayStation 2.
In 2002, Warner Bros. acquired the rights to create a live-action remake of Akira as a seven-figure deal. However, the live-action remake has undergone several failed attempts to produce it, with at least five different directors and ten different writers known to have been attached to it. The directors have had some freedom with the project; according to writer Gary Whitta who had written one draft of a live-action screenplay, they have been told that Otomo had instructed those working on the film "basically to not be afraid to change things, that he wanted to see an original and different interpretation, not just a straight-up remake". Otomo himself said in a June 2017 interview that as he is "basically done with Akira" as a manga, that "if someone wants to do something new with Akira then I am mostly okay with that", with the only condition that he can review and approve of any scenario a writer might take it for a live-action film.
IGN concluded that long-term troubles with producing the live-action film come from two areas. First, there has been the fear of whitewashing or racebending, casting American or other Western actors in lieu of Japanese ones, which has come to light when various actors have been named for roles. Secondly, Akira itself is not a story that is easy to relocate outside of Japan, due to the influence on the original story of Japan's role in World War II, including the atomic bombings of Japan, and their own Unit 731.
Shortly after Warner Bros. acquired the rights, Stephen Norrington was slated to direct with James Robinson writing the screenplay and Dan Lin producing. Norrington had planned to make the remake more appealing to Western audiences, making Kaneda and Tetsuo brothers. Following the commercial failure of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003, which both Norrington and Robinson were also on, the project was put on hold.
Director Ruairi Robinson announced in 2008 he was teaming with Whitta to adopt the manga for live-action, breaking the narrative out over two films with the first to have been completed and released by 2009. Producer Andrew Lazar said that the first film would cover volumes 1 through 3 of the manga, with the rest covered in the second film. Whitta, in a 2015 interview, said that the story would have taken place in a Japan-owned Manhattan, renaming the region as New Tokyo. This would allow them to have used a mix of Western and Asian actors as to avoid concerns that they would be whitewashing the project.
Ruairi Robinson left the project in 2009 and was replaced by directors Allen and Albert Hughes, though later Albert Hughes went solo with the project by 2011. They used Whitta's script with modifications by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby with an aim for a PG-13 rating. Around 2011, a version of the Akira script leaked online; though it was unclear if this was Whitta's or Fergus/Ostby's version, the scripts deviated significantly from the source material in what was considered a negative way according to IGN, such as making Akira a "psychotic murderous creepy child", inclusion of heavy-handed references to the September 11 attacks, and characters written in a misogynistic fashion. Around this same time, casting calls for the film led to accusations of whitewashing. Shortly after these events, Albert Hugest left the project citing "amicable creative differences".
Since the project began, several writers, directors (including George Miller and Christopher Nolan), producers, actors and actresses have been attached to the project.
George Takei spoke with The Advocate in April 2011 about the casting rumors at that time, stating that any decision to cast white actors in Akira would offend both Asians and the fans of the original manga or animated film.
On 8 March 2015, the planned director Jaume Collet-Serra told Collider in an interview that there was no progress on the film and planned to take a break from directing. However, the studio might get the film made eventually. On 8 June 2015, The Hollywood Reporter has reported that the studio has resumed work on the film and Marco Ramirez, known for his work as one of the showrunners for Marvel's Daredevil, will write the film. Warner Bros. offered George Miller the chance to direct the film at one point but he turned it down due to commitments to other projects. According to Jeff Sneider at Meet the Movie Press, the studio is in talks with Justin Lin to direct the film. After the success of Get Out, Jordan Peele was offered the director's chair but passed on it.
In January 2016, Katsuhiro Otomo revealed in a French comic festival that an anime television series was being considered.
In September 2017, it was announced director Taika Waititi was in talks to possibly be the director for a live-action adaptation. Waititi later revealed his intent to keep the ethnicity of the characters intact. Also, Waititi expressed interest in casting untapped teenaged talent. 
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Akira|
- Official website (in Japanese)
- Official website (US)
- Akira on IMDb
- Akira at AllMovie
- "Akira" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
- Akira (film) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- BlueBlade Akira (English-based fansite)
- Akira 2019 (English-based fansite)
- Official Cast and Crew credits for 1989 Streamline dub
- Official Cast and Crew credits for 2001 Pioneer dub
- Mathijs, Ernest; Mendik, Xavier (2011). "Akira (p. 11)". 100 Cult Films. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-8445-7571-3.
- TIME review (subscription required)