Ever since Warner Bros. announced its plans to remake the 1988 anime Akira as a pair of live-action films, fans have been understandably nervous. Although Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of both the original Akira manga and its animated adaptation, is on board as the film’s executive producer, some fear that Hollywood will water down the tale of post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo to the point of blandness. But one fan who has seen the new Akira script says the remake is, if anything, too faithful to the original.Latino Review talked to Dr. Strangefist, who had an opportunity to review the script for the first live-action film, written by The Book of Eli scribe Gary Whitta. Dr. Strangefist outlines the basic premise of the new script, along with some of the characters’ newly-Anglicized names (Kaneda is still Kaneda, but Tetsuo somehow became “Travis,” which just isn’t as much fun to scream). Overall, he found the script happily familiar, although it doesn’t add much to the Akira universe:
The people out there who demand faithfulness in adaptations and remakes should be pleasantly surprised, even if not outright delighted by this script; sure, a few elements are slightly watered-down, Hollywood-ized, Americanized – but there is no outright wrecking, ruining, or childhood raping going on here. All things considered it is shockingly faithful to the source material, at times reading like a flat-out transcript/description of the animated movie, and even incorporating aspects of the original manga that were left out of the anime version. It is faithful not only in plot and character details, but in tone. It retains the darkness, the violence, the epic qualities and even some of the themes, though they’ve been tweaked, Americanized, and updated to apply to current events. They are also maybe a bit less complex, but still this is admirable. This adaptation actually retains a lot of the style and, more surprisingly, substance of the original. If you are already a fan, you will probably like this adaptation, because a lot of the same things are good about it. The other side of that coin, though, is that it’s not bringing many fresh ideas or perspectives on the material to the table. What I love about good remakes or adaptations, what in fact makes some of them good, is that they are opportunities for artists with distinct voices and visions to take already existing works and re-interpret them, pay respect to them but use them to say new things and make them their own. There is very little of that happening here. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I’m talking about how faithful it is, a lot of that reaction is due to my surprise that it’s not a complete bastardization. We’re not exactly talking Gus Van Sant’s Psycho levels of slavishness here. But it’s not a particularly fresh take either. Neither infuriatingly dumbed-down nor invigoratingly creative and exciting, it just kind of exists - at least as a script.
It’ll be interesting to see if the filmmakers take a similarly faithful approach to the film’s visual style, or if they introduce a new vision to Akira while maintaining a similar storyline. Director Ruairi Robinson, who makes his directorial debut with Akira, is certainly no stranger to post-apocalyptic filmmaking, as is evident in his recent short film The Silent City: