A brand new Akira anime series is in development according to original creator, Katsuhiro Otomo. Originally debuting as a manga series in 1982, Otomo's Akira spun a tale of government conspiracy, feuding biker gangs and experimental psychic abilities set upon a backdrop of a near-destroyed Neo Tokyo. Running for 8 years, the manga was highly successful, but it wasn't until the 1988 animated movie adaptation, also directed by Otomo, that Akira became an iconic piece of cinematic history.
A live-action Hollywood adaptation of Akira has long been rumored but appeared unable to escape development hell, with many deeming the story impossible to film, at least without a substantially monstrous budget. Names as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Lin and George Miller have been attached to the project in various capacities throughout the years, but earlier in May 2019, Thor: Ragnarok's Taika Waititi was officially announced as directing Akira, with a 2021 release date finally set. While speculation surrounding the live-action adaptation was rife, Otomo revealed in 2016 that an Akira anime series was also being considered.
Three years later, that prospect has now become a reality. Speaking at this year's Anime Expo event in Los Angeles (via AnimeMojo), Otomo announced an ambitious 4k remaster of Akira and went on to reveal that a new anime based on the Akira manga was officially being developed. Although it wasn't explicitly confirmed whether this would be a remake, prequel, sequel or spinoff, Otomo suggested that the new series would explore parts of the manga series that didn't make it into the 1988 film, meaning the new series is most likely to be a direct adaptation of the source material.
This news will come as an incredibly exciting moment for anime fans. Although Akira is one of the most internationally revered movies of all time, the franchise hasn't expanded as rapidly as the likes of Ghost in the Shell and Dragon Ball, meaning there is plenty of story still to explore. Otomo's original manga was a huge, detailed affair and, for obvious reasons, the 1988 film was a greatly condensed version of the story. Consequently, much of the Akira manga has been restricted to printed form only and the prospect of seeing Otomo's fictional world adapted in its entirely is undoubtedly a tantalizing one.
It's unlikely that the announcement of this new Akira anime series coming so soon after the confirmation of Taika Waititi's live-action movie is a coincidence. But while there may be an element of capitalizing on the franchise's future cinematic exploits, there remains much untapped potential in the Akira world, and fans have been calling out for more additions to the story. Otomo's involvement is also a huge reassurance, and the anime series may act as a more authentic alternative for fans who will inevitably be disappointed by the Hollywood movie. After so many years of lying dormant, however, 2019 is certainly a good time to be an Akira fan.
The Akira anime is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives.