Yesterday Warner Bros. studio pissed off an entire legion of anime fans with the announcement that they’d be financing a two part live action film version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic Akira. Now don’t get me wrong: I loved, loved, loved the 1989 film. I still have the theatrical poster that was taken from the Tivoli Theater in Kansas City (where I first saw it). I own the big bad deluxe THX redub version (which would be 4th version I’ve bought). I’ve had the soundtrack since 1990, and I still have two Akira shirts (much to my wife’s chagrin). But let’s face it: Astounding visuals and style aside: the film version is actually pretty bad. It compresses far too much information into a muddy mess of pseudo philosophy and new agey weirdness, and the last 20 minutes are pretty damn cringe-inducing.
Otomo’s ground-breaking manga has never been given the film treatment it should deserve, and Warner Bros. announcing that they’ll be splitting the six volume epic into two films is at least some cause to be optimistic. Ruairi Robinson is tapped to direct at least the first installment, and while he’s yet to prove himself as a feature director, he’s got the right touch for this kind of dystopian squalor.
I feel a hell of a lot better about an Americanized version of Akira than I do the upcoming Watchmen film, that’s for sure.