Director Taika Waititi is still set to direct the highly anticipated live-action adaptation of Akira. The Thor: Ragnarok director is attached to bring the popular anime movie to life for a brand new audience.
Akira was originally a manga series that was later adapted into an animated film in 1988. Set in a post-apocalyptic future with a cyberpunk aesthetic, the story revolves around the leader of a biker gang whose friend develops telekinetic powers after a motorcycle accident. Akira is regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, and is largely responsible for the popularity of anime in western culture. Its distinct animation style has also influenced different media, including film, television and comics.
Director Taika Waititi signed on to direct the live-action adaptation of Akira in 2017. However, Waititi was recruited by Marvel to direct another Thor movie after the success of Thor: Ragnarok, and his work on the Akira needed to take a backseat. While promoting his new movie Jojo Rabbit, Waititi (via IGN) explains the delays in production for the live-action adaptation, saying that the start date for shooting Akira kept getting pushed until it eventually interfered with his work on Thor: Love and Thunder. Although his commitment to Marvel comes first, Waititi assures fans that he is still very much involved in directing the Akira movie, even though development will take longer than initially anticipated.
Delays in adapting the popular anime were usually due to creative differences. Points of contention when trying to adapt Akira typically revolve around the prospect of white-washing, where fans believe that the characters should be Japanese to match the nationalities of the original story instead of casting well-known white actors. White-washing has been a major issue in the critical success of other films, such as the live-action adaptations of Ghost in the Shell and Death Note. There is also the issue of whether the story should still be set in the futuristic Neo-Tokyo or whether the setting should move to accommodate a western audience. The problem with this change is that much of the original story is inspired real-life Japanese events.
Waititi is not the first person to try adapting a live-action Akira movie. Warner Bros. has been trying to adapt the anime for years, with several different writers and directors attached to the project. Directors George Miller and Jordan Peele were notably given the chance to direct the film but declined the offer. Still, Waititi insists he's committed to making his live-action Akira happen, and fans should be happy to hear he's taking the time to do the story justice.