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AKIRA Creator Says He Must Approve Any Live-Action Film

AKIRA Creator Says He Must Approve Any Live-Action Film

Science fiction writers can only hope to create indelible worlds, memorable characters, and iconic technology in their works, and very few get the opportunity to translate their own work to any other medium, but that’s exactly what Katsuhiro Otomo did with his magnum opus, Akira, a manga which he wrote and illustrated between 1982 and 1990. He also, famously, adapted this work into a 1998 feature film, one of the most expensive in Japanese history, and the kickstarter of a cyberpunk boom in sci-fi for years after. Otomo’s work has been essentially untouchable in the decades since, and in a recent interview with Forbes, he explains what needs to have happen for a live-action movie.

The interview is quite good–and lengthy–and mostly gets into how Otomo went about designing the red motorcycle and the other bits of amazing technology for the manga and film, but toward the end he starts to talk about his thoughts on the future of Akira, and basically says his own involvement is over.

“…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.”

So that seems like a pretty straightforward position to take: he’s cool with people making a live-action version, he just wants to have approval. Since it’s his intellectual property through and through–to date, no official Akira anything has been made by anyone but him–he might as well get say in what they do. However, he does say that doing a panel-for-panel redux of the manga, or a direct adaptation of the film, wouldn’t do either justice.

Akira-Movie-featured

“Personally, I think being entirely bound to the original manga of something like Akira would not make any sense as a movie,” he said, though added that he’s not at all interested in pursuing such a project himself. “I would much rather do something entirely new and separate.” Is anyone surprised someone who came up with a brand new vision of the future is more interested in things to come?

Adapting Akira has been a daunting task for the many, many western filmmakers who’ve tried. Most recently, Christopher Nolan‘s company was working on an adaptation, with people such as Justin Lin reportedly tied to directing, but that seems to be on the back burner again. With the general flopping of Ghost in the Shell this year, I’m guessing such an adaptation isn’t on any studio’s must-do list.

I have my own thoughts on what an Akira film needs to have, and the dangers of adapting anime in general, but what do you think? Is Akira truly the untouchable work? Or can someone do a good job with specific things? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Toho

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He’s the writer of Studio Ghibli retrospectives Miyazaki Masterclass, Takahata Textbook, and Ghibli Bits. Follow him on Twitter!

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