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Akira Continues To Advance In Popularity In Japan

May 9, 2008
Katsuhiro Otomo's name may be somewhat unfamiliar to those in the United States, but in Japan he is one of the top manga artists to ever be published. Otomo has been behind several projects that received major recognition, particularly in the anime field. He was involved with the films Steam Boy, Metropolis, and Memories. But perhaps his most famous project is Akira.

Akira ran as a series from 1982 to 1990. The series was collected into a 2,000 plus page graphic novel. Akira tells the story of Kaneda and his biker gang who fight against the Clown biker gang. During this ongoing gang war, Kaneda's younger friend Tetsuo begins to display psychokinetic abilities that render him into a nearly god-like state. The story takes place after World War 3 in Neo-Tokyo, after the first Tokyo was destroyed in a nuclear attack.

The manga was adapted into an anime film that proved to be tremendously popular and helped to change the way many Americans viewed the animation medium, due to its gritty, violent, and dark nature. The film proved to be so popular, that it was not long before fans of the anime began to question if there would ever be a live action film.

Despite the popularity of the film, there were some grievances with the structure of the film, due to the fact that the film tried to tell the whole story, but as a result, approximately 40% of the story from the manga remained. Many felt it would have worked better as a trilogy. Fans wishing for a live action film, however, may soon get their wish.

On February 20, 2008 it was announced that Warner Brothers had acquired the rights to produce two feature length, live action films based on Akira with Ruairi Robinson to direct, in his directorial debut in feature length films. Robinson has received several award nominations for his short film work and commercials.

The films, however, are not going to be 100% faithful due to the fact that they will be an Americanization of the manga, as opposed to bringing on Japanese actors. The film takes place in New Manhattan, instead of Neo-Tokyo.

Many fans have been unsure of their stance on the film and are awaiting a statement from Katsuhiro Otomo proclaiming his satisfaction or disdain before they make a full stance. The first installment of Akira is expected to open in 2009.
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