I feel so out of the loop, because I only found out today through an article on Cracked.com that they're going to try to do a live movie of Akira. For those of you not in the know, Akira is a brilliant anime film based on a manga series of the same name. And I do mean brilliant. It's a story that focuses on the corruption of power and the painful metamorphoses of adolescence through a plot focused on secret government testing and psychic powers. As many years as it has been since I last saw it, I still remember it being a great film. It was also one of America's first taste of what anime had to bring as a medium, and thank god because it's a brilliant piece of work.
So now, before any of you see the live version, I URGE YOU to watch Akira as soon as possible. Now. Before it's ruined for you. Before you can only think of it as the movie release that's slated in 2013.
Because the brilliance of this movie will not be repeated in a live action film.
The cracked article I link to above makes some valid points that I don't want to repeat here. My point is that you can tell with the way that the producers are going about this adaptation, the substance of the original piece is going to be lost. Casting is a little more focused on who's popular right now, even if some of the actors mentioned could definitely do the parts justice. But also, they're going to strip away the setting and essentially the background that made the story and characters powerful. I'm not saying you can't talk about the themes presented in a post-nuclear future Japan in a story set in the United States, but you definitely can't talk about them in the same way. Japan has a history that is plagued with natural disasters and large-scale attacks in a tiny amount of space, on an island of people who (mostly) share similar ancestry. America is an expansive country full of diversity that was necessary to make it survive, with different geographical cultures that only recently have consistently started to interact with each other and the country hasn't had to fight any war on it's soil on a large scale in over a century. Unless you count vague propaganda wars on Terror and Drugs. You cannot get the same story.
This is where I think a lot of producers fail to adapt their products correctly when it comes to acquiring foreign properties. You lose a lot when you flip the setting so unceremoniously. As much as you may feel you can just change the background and have the story be the same, it's very rarely true. Shakespeare was able to produce stories that can do that... not many other writers have. And it's not a failing on the writers part. Some stories can only be told from a certain place.
This is one of those times where it would possibly make more sense to be inspired from the original work but then admit you are doing your own story. Inspiration sometimes works best. I think I would be lesss frustrated if that was what's going on. But I think they're hoping to slap the name Akira on the movie in hopes of getting nerd sales on top of the regular sales because it's been working for the comic book industry. Hence why I am extremely suspicious.
Regardless of even if this live action movie exists later on, watch Akira. You shouldn't need an excuse to watch a great piece of film.