Remaking old, nostalgia-filled, animated classics in live action is all the rage right now. We’ve seen “Cinderella”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “The Jungle Book” literally brought to life so far, and still have “The Lion King” and “Mulan” to look forward to. For anime, though, the landscape has been pretty barren. After all, compared to powerhouses like Disney, anime is not nearly as popular and far less likely to be a hit at the box office. That assumption is going to be put to the test though, and soon. May 21, 2021, to be exact.
Taika Waititi is set to bring one of the most iconic and beloved anime series to the big screen in a live-action adaptation that was announced well before the Thor: Ragnarok director was well known for his work. Perhaps that is what helped him get the green light to begin with; a lesser known director taking a chance isn’t likely to make too many people nervous about the results. But as Waititi has seen his fame skyrocket, so have expectations, especially among the anime’s diehard fans.
Recent attempts to bring anime to mass audiences haven’t seen much success so far. A Netflix live-action “Death Note” was a critical failure, and “Ghost in the Shell”’s recent Hollywood venture was critiqued heavily for whitewashing and being too afraid to take chances. More than either of those titles, though, Akira has achieved almost legendary status amongst anime fans. For many, it is one of the first they ever saw, and shaped their view of the medium altogether.
Fortunately, Waititi is more than aware of the fans’ concerns. As a fan who saw the original movie when he was 13, the director is very keen on what could go wrong and what fans do not want to see. “I haven’t really started to get my head around it yet. What I wanted to do was an adaptation of the books, ’cos a lot of people are like, ‘Don’t touch that film!’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not remaking the film, I want to go back to the book,’” he said in an interview with Dazed Magazine.
With his self-awareness and skill, hopefully, Waititi will be the director that makes us forget about the horrors of movies such as “Dragonball: Evolution”. “Thor: Ragnarok” was a great movie, and even before that success, Waititi had a cult following for his many smaller films. And hey, the original creator of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo, has even given his blessing and pledged his help to the effort. Maybe this film won’t be so bad after all then.
Caleb Edwards is a senior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats and dogs or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam or find him at his website CalebMEdwards.com.