It’s not that we’re necessarily opposed to a live-action adaptation of Akira—don’t get us wrong, such an endeavor is totally unnecessary, but when has that ever stopped a movie from being made?—it’s just that every single time anyone talks about the project it sounds terrible. At various points over the years, actors like James Franco and Leonardo DiCaprio, among many others, have been attached, and everyday we thank a god we don’t particularly believe in that this hasn’t happened yet. That said, this concept art from one potential incarnation looks incredible. If anyone can actually make a version of Akira that looks like this, we’d climb right on board.
These pieces come from art director Ruairi Robinson and were part of Warner Bros.’ 2009 attempt to bring the classic anime to life. Robinson later went on to make his directorial debut with the sci-fi thriller Last Days on Mars. These images come directly from his personal website, which is overflowing with fantastic pieces from his various projects. Again, if there is any way that you could guarantee us that a live-action Akira would look this good, we would have no hesitation supporting this venture.
You get a look at what the some of the bikes and action would have looked like in this version…
…as well as the general cityscape of Neo Tokyo. There’s a definite Blade Runner influence to the settings and designs.
Many of these frames look like they could have been translated directly from the original.
There are also some character designs, and when you look at these, you can’t help but notice how much Kaneda resembles Captain America himself, Chris Evans…
…and how much “Travis,” who you have to assume is an Anglicized version of Tetsuo, looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I wonder if Robinson had any specific actors in mind when he composed these? The Dark Knight Rises star was attached to the project.
If you don’t know, Akira is the most popular, well-known Japanese anime in history. There’s probably room to argue that point, but not much. In a dystopian futuristic Tokyo, teen biker gangs rule the streets, waging war on one another. After an accident, psychic powers begin to manifest in the young Tetsuo, which has dire consequences, both for him and the world at large.
A live-action version has been in the works for well over a decade, and plans have gone through countless actors, studios, and stylistic approaches, and like I said, most of them sound absolutely terrible. At the present time, the project ahs seemingly stalled, again, and if it never materializes, we’re fine with that.
For those people who are desperate to see this come to life on the big screen, it probably isn’t going to happen any time soon. Until it does, you’ll have to be satisfied, at least for the time being, with this badass fan film from the Akira Project.