'Akira' Adaptation Back on Track, But Who Will Be Cast?

by Michael D. Nguyen /
Marco Ramirez, showrunner for Netflix’s “Daredevil” series has recently become attached to the long-delayed Akira project, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way set to produce.
Marco Ramirez, showrunner for Netflix’s “Daredevil” series has recently become attached to the long-delayed Akira project, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way set to produce. Courtesy Kodansha Comics

Attempts to create a live-action version of the manga and anime “Akira” are taking on epic proportions worthy of the cult classic.

Marco Ramirez, showrunner for Netflix’s “Daredevil” series has recently become attached to the long-delayed project, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way set to produce.

In 2011, a live-action adaptation of “Akira” was met with fierce criticism following what some considered to be a whitewashing of roles, with actors Justin Timberlake, Robert Pattinson, and Kristen Stewart floated to star in the film.

The “Akira” source material is set in a futuristic, post-apocolyptic version of Tokyo where biker gangs, military forces, and godlike telekinetic humans clash with catastrophic results. Ultimately, budgetary concerns led to the project being scuttled in 2012.

Related: Is Hollywood 'Whitewashing' Characters of Color?

Director Jaume Collet-Serra was set to direct the 2012 iteration. It is unclear if Collet-Serra is still involved.

Some are skeptical that this latest attempt at an adaptation will fair any better.

“Why won’t [the project] die?” blogger Phil Yu lamented in a recent post.

Following in the formula of US-based comics, studios are eager to cash in on treasured Japanese source material. Recently, Scarlett Johansson was announced as the lead in a live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell”, an anime and manga cyberpunk franchise set in a near future Japan. Johansson would play Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cybernetic police officer in a special forces unit.

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