Taika Waititi is currently enjoying the marketing blitz that accompanies the release of his upcoming Marvel film, Thor: Ragnarok. But amidst all the interviews and press events, Waititi found time to talk about the rumors concerning him directing Warner Bros.’ live-action Akira adaptation. That project has been in the works for quite some time–our own news coverage on it goes back to 2009–but with the anime’s 30th anniversary arriving next year, it’d be a prime time to make some announcements.
What’s interesting is that Waititi would actually be aiming to adapt writer/illustrator Katsuhiro Otomo‘s manga instead of the acclaimed 1988 anime he directed. Waititi said as much, and more, during an interview with IGN. He was, of course, careful not to confirm anything one way or the other, but he’s also aware of recent attempts at Japanese anime adaptations that did not take Whitewashing concerns seriously. Don’t expect him to make the same mistake, should he get the gig.
Regarding the rumors that he’d be in the director’s seat for Akira, Waititi said:
“I am — that was more or less a rumor. There was, I mean, I was in talks to do that, for sure, and something that I was very passionate about — am passionate about … And, yeah, so anyway there’s been some chats.”
While we wait for official confirmation for Waititi’s involvement, at least we can rest assured that he’s got the right idea for adapting the source material:
“I actually love the books. Love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books.”
And that Whitewashing problem I mentioned?
“Yeah. Actually Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent. Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.”
Waititi later confirmed that the plan is to adapt all six volumes of the manga, but it remains to be seen if the adaptation will be split into two films and/or if it will take place in a rebuilt Manhattan instead of Neo Tokyo. Otomo’s manga was well-adapted in the anime, but the six volumes allowed for a longer timeline and more subplots and characters throughout the story. For example, the end of the anime is roughly the halfway point of the manga series; the missing half of the story is a sort of gang war for control of Neo Tokyo. Oh, and it also includes much more about the title character himself, who gets short-changed in the anime. (Yeah plus Tetsuo teleports to the moon and blasts a new crater in it, which is delightful, but there are also drug-fueled sex-slave orgies … which is decidedly less delightful.) We’d also get proper characterizations for Lady Miyako, Joker, and Kei’s much-better storyline should the manga be adapted.
Akira still may be a ways off as Waititi is next set to direct Fox Searchlight’s World War II dramedy Jojo Rabbit, which starts filming in the spring. He’s also co-directing the stop-motion animated Michael Jackson movie Bubbles. And, of course, Thor: Ragnarok rolls out in U.S. theaters on November 3rd, about a week after the rest of the world has enjoyed it.