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Akira adaptation courts white actors
March 24, 2011 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Beloved anime classic Akira (previously) is in the process of getting a live-action adaption courtesy of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. In fact, they're currently trying to assemble a cast. Oddly enough, despite keeping the leading characters' names Kaneda and Tetsuo, all the actors approached are white. This hasn't gone unnoticed, and Racebending.com is preparing a campaign to protest. Just last year M. Night Shyamalan's adaption of The Last Airbender (previously) drew massive criticism for having an all-white cast in an Asian setting.

See also this earlier thread on the documentary Yellow Face.
posted by Harald74 (230 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
obligatory
posted by anthill at 5:23 AM on March 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


If you make an American version of this movie in America with an American writer and director, in English, then they won't be able to excuse the fact that the movie makes no fucking sense by saying, "Oh it makes sense if you're Japanese."
posted by empath at 5:29 AM on March 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


It actually looks like they're adapting the manga, into two movies, and they're setting it in New Manhattan (I guess New New York was taken) instead of Neo Tokyo. So, apart from the names, I don't see a huge problem with it. Besides, going back to the manga means they have an opportunity to get more sense out of it, although I never thought the Japanese film was all that hard to understand, especially with the new translation.

Albert Hughes to direct? That's not a horrible idea. And Steve Kloves definitely knows what he's doing.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:40 AM on March 24, 2011




Asian people get western names, why can't it be the other way around? Or when Kurosawa adapted Red Harvest into Yojimbo, he should have cast white people?
posted by CarlRossi at 5:44 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


In a previous thread, I made the point that it sucks for non-Caucasian actors, because professional theatre and film productions tend to cast with a view to realism, and there simply aren't many roles for non-Caucasian actors.

Takeo and Kaneda are both teenagers - they're supposed to be 15 or 16 or so.

There are two major roles, and I'm told that for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been given the new script.

James McAvoy? He's 32. Andrew Garfield is 28.

For the role of Kaneda, the script has been given to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.

Timberlake is 30, Phoenix is 36.

As if it isn't hard enough for non-Caucasian actors to get a look in because producers want to pretend they don't exist, they also have to deal with the fact that people LITERALLY TWICE THE AGE OF THE CHARACTERS are being considered. So much for realistic casting.

Casting a bunch of white guys guys in their mid-thirties in a Japanese teenage coming of age story. For fuck's sake. Fuck you, Hollywood. Fuck you sideways with a rusty nail.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:45 AM on March 24, 2011 [61 favorites]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics. Coyboy Beboop, Trigun, Scrapped Princess, etc.
Airbender failed not because of the lack of Asians in the movie; it failed because it sucked as a movie overall. Write and direct the movie properly and get actors that can act and care about thier work, and it will be good.
If this version of Akira is to be set in Tokyo, then yes, Asian actors should be preferred. Otherwise, not so much.
Also, I seriously question the wisdom of making a live-action version of any animie or manga.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:46 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I seriously question the wisdom of making a live-action version of any animie or manga.

Word.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:47 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is going to be the worst thing.

We need to start a nerd-position to tell them to call it off.
posted by empath at 5:50 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics. Coyboy Beboop, Trigun, Scrapped Princess, etc.

Spike Spiegel in CB, Vash in Trigun, it's not that they don't have Asian features, those ARE white characters! Kaneda and Tetsuo, those are clearly not white characters.
posted by yifes at 5:50 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Akira is my favorite movie. I will not be buying a ticket to see this.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:51 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


My apologies, I misread the 'New Manhattan part'. I understand that it is an adaptation, set in the US.

My point about age still stands

I can see why they want to keep the names. It won't be the same if they have to run around screaming AAAAAANDREEEEEEW and JAAAAAAMES instead of KAAANEEEDDAAAA!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:51 AM on March 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


OMG I don't want to see the football stadium scene in live action!!! AH!! And the scary stuffed animals?! I think there may have been some sort of substances involved when I watched that movie though. Maybe it will be less traumatic live action and minus substances.

And I don't want him to turn into a tiny spec of universe or whatever!!! Noooooo!!!! Come back to humanity!!!

But this whole thing seems kind of distastefully done. I get that the logic they're going with is, "Yeah well sometimes we cast minority races in previously white roles, so really this should be fine, because you PC people want us to do more of that right?"

But that's really a stretch because this isn't casting a few white people into the roles, but obliterating the fact that this is a Japanese movie. I'm glad the anime version left me horrified so I'm not sure I want this live action anyway!
posted by xarnop at 5:52 AM on March 24, 2011


Airbender failed not because of the lack of Asians in the movie; it failed because it sucked as a movie overall.

I predict the very same fate for this version of Akira.

Also, to get caught up in the external trappings of the comic or movie is a mistake: what Hollywood will truly fuck up is the fundamental ideas, themes and mood of the original(s). The comparison between From Hell the comic and From Hell the movie is disturbingly apt. The former is a sprawling epic mapping the violent psychosexual history of an entire city and empire (to name only a few of the themes) while the latter is a lackluster serial killer movie with godawful fake accents.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The number one thing Akira had for it was that it was trippy and cool looking. It was trippy and cool looking mostly because of the animation. Akira didn't make no sense but it didn't make total sense either the story as presented in the movie wasn't that great. So they are taking an existing IP removing the thing that made it awesome and leaving everything else. Um ok, I guess, but if you are going to make a movie based on something where what you are actually able to translate from the source is the best part? Let's remake Einstein on the Beach as a silent film.
posted by I Foody at 5:58 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics.

As about a baskrillion web pages will tell you, this is because white people read whiteness into faces when they're pale and haven't been given wildly exaggerated facial characteristics that whites think Asians should have.

Anime characters, by and large, look Japanese, with weird hair and eye color (of course, white people don't naturally have green or blue hair either). Or at least are made by Japanese people in Japanese production companies to appear Japanese to Japanese people.

Just last year M. Night Shyamalan's adaption of The Last Airbender (previously) drew massive criticism for having an all-white cast in an Asian setting.

Shyamalan did include some darker-skinned characters. He just made sure they were all evil(-ish).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:59 AM on March 24, 2011 [34 favorites]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics.

Whoever the majority in a place is, they're going to show themselves as 'default' and then if necessary add in visual markers to denote All Those Other People. That's how you get the ordinary stick figure being read as male and the stick figure with a skirt or long hair as female. If you're looking at a cartoon made by and for Asians, they're not going to use the white-western visual shorthand for "this person is Asian." They have no need for it.
posted by cmyk at 6:05 AM on March 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


This sounds like it will be horrible. But I'm not sure that a Westernised version of Akira set in Neo Manhattan with white actors playing white characters would actually be worse than what you'd get if Hollywood filmmakers tried to make a fake Japanese version set in their version of Japan.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I shall add this to the list of films which I must immediately not see.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:09 AM on March 24, 2011


My theory is that whitewashing functions as a great big clue to a film's inherent shittiness. It seems like a very Hollywood line of thought to assume they cannot risk casting people who are not the "default race" when they fucking know they're churning out really terrible crap like Last Airbender or Prince of Persia, and there's very little in the story or quality of the movie itself to draw moviegoers. This doesn't give me much hope for Akira.
posted by hegemone at 6:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The other thing with The Last Airbender was that while the main cast was white, seemingly everyone else in the movie was Asian. It was jarring.

Also, as others have pointed out, The Last Airbender was the worst movie of all time.
posted by ged at 6:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


That is one big lineup of actors I wouldn't deliberately pay to see.

You can see all their faces here at the Dark Horizons story.

I can see why they want to keep the names. It won't be the same if they have to run around screaming AAAAAANDREEEEEEW and JAAAAAAMES instead of KAAANEEEDDAAAA!

That's funny, but I think it's going to end up goofy either way.
posted by heatvision at 6:13 AM on March 24, 2011


Airbender failed not because of the lack of Asians in the movie; it failed because it sucked as a movie overall.

Agreed, but part of the reason why Airbender was a bad movie was because it had no idea what to do with its source material. It tried to turn a finely tuned, culturally and artisically aware of its heritage anime/cartoon into a hollywood blockbuster action flick. Same problem here: Akira is not just Japanese as in it happened to be made in Japan and so can be easily transposed into another geography, it's Japanese in the sense that NOBODY who's read the anime an ignore that this is something produced by a Japanese culture. White washing is the right word and not only is it working on the racist assumption that the film needs to 'make the Japanese elements accessible to a Western audience' (insulting to both Japan AND the West generally) but it shows they just don't 'get' the film.

Plus, you know, racism and meaning that if you're Japanese/non Cauasian good luck making a career in Hollywood
posted by litleozy at 6:15 AM on March 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


It's funny, you don't see many people complaining about the casting of Star Wars.
posted by mhoye at 6:18 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My theory is that whitewashing functions as a great big clue to a film's inherent shittiness.

Magnificent Seven.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:23 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems like a very Hollywood line of thought to assume they cannot risk casting people who are not the "default race" when they fucking know they're churning out really terrible crap like Last Airbender or Prince of Persia, and there's very little in the story or quality of the movie itself to draw moviegoers.

Honestly I think that at least in the case of Prince of Persia and, presumably, this Akira as well, the idea isn't to get audiences to flock to see Default Race, but that these movies are fucking expensive so we'd better have some guaranteed stars that we already know audiences will pay to look at.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This makes me sad. A live action Akira could be made and could be made well - we have the technology and there are people with the vision. It could be just as mind-bending as the original in its own way. But I'm telling you - the missing ingredient is not the fucking guy from Twilight.

NEO-CONNECTICUT IS ABOUT TO E-X-P-L-O-D-E!
posted by dirtdirt at 6:30 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


James McAvoy? He's 32. Andrew Garfield is 28.
...
Timberlake is 30, Phoenix is 36.


The hilarious thing about casting 30-somethings as Tetsuo and Kaneda is that it turns Akira from an awesomely psychedelic fucked-up coming-of-age story to the tale of two inexplicably emotionally-stunted man-children who are rageily yelling each at other well past the age when that's in any way appropriate to adult human development. Now I really want to make a version of Breaking Away with an all-fifty-year-old cast.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:31 AM on March 24, 2011 [33 favorites]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics.

You should probably take a minute to read this. Thinking that most anime characters look "white" says more about you and your perspective than about the characters or the intent of their creators.

While it's true that there are sometimes explicitly non-Japanese characters in anime, the main cast Akira is obviously not one of those examples.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:33 AM on March 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


Also, I seriously question the wisdom of making a live-action version of any animie or manga.

Plenty of manga have been adapted to live action in Japan. The live action version of Great Teacher Onizuka is superior to the anime, imo.

Now, I might join you in questioning the wisdom of Hollywood making a live-action version of any animie or manga.
posted by delegeferenda at 6:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Let me guess, Keanu is going to play Kaneda?
posted by tybeet at 6:43 AM on March 24, 2011


Indeed a number of Western scholars have suggested that Japanese today harbor just such a desire, that they deny their “Asianness” and try instead to identify themselves with the Western, “white,” Center. The curious fact that Chinese characters appearing in manga are often portrayed using the same markers of “Asianness” (slanted eyes, straight black hair) common in Western representations may seem to be irrefutable evidence of this assertion.

Thanks Narrative Priorities, I had never realized the full extent of Japanese racism and white-idolization in comic books.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:49 AM on March 24, 2011


Also, I seriously question the wisdom of making a live-action version of any animie or manga.

I was having a conversation the other day about how awesome a live-action Gyo would be, played totally straight. Or a Franken Fran with effects so detailed and 'happy endings' so nightmarish audiences would walk out.
posted by emmtee at 6:51 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me guess, Keanu is going to play Kaneda?

Nope, Keanu was supposed to play Spike Spiegel.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:51 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see the studio once again passed over my adapted screenplay that starred Matthew McConaughey in a New Austin devastated by a horrible SXSW. He plays a lawyer turned surfer, whose girlfriend is Amanda Seyfried, that battles an evil DEA agent that's trying to confiscate all the weed in the city using psychic children. I don't want to give too much away, but the soundtrack is 100% Sammy Hagar.
posted by geoff. at 6:52 AM on March 24, 2011 [25 favorites]


Well, just as long as they don't try to do a live action version of Robotech, I'm fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 AM on March 24, 2011


It actually looks like they're adapting the manga, into two movies, and they're setting it in New Manhattan (I guess New New York was taken) instead of Neo Tokyo. So, apart from the names, I don't see a huge problem with it.
You don't see a problem with it?! Completely regardless of the ethnicity of the main characters everything about this just sounds horrific. Akira in Manhattan!? What the fuck? Ugh.
To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics. Coyboy Beboop, Trigun, Scrapped Princess, etc.
What the hell are you talking about? Race neutral != white. Japanese people don't see themselves as having "Asian features", they see neutral while they see white people as looking strange and having 'stereotypical' European features. Anime characters tend to have big eyes, but the characters are drawn that way to look cute, not to look European.
A friend of mine who grew up in China told me that she has trouble telling white people (or anyone non-asian) apart. Again for people who grew up surrounded by mostly Asian people, Asian features are what's 'normal'. Why would they portray themselves based on stereotypes held by people on another continent?

---
Anyway, this sounds like it is totally going to suck no matter what. UGH.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 AM on March 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


these movies are fucking expensive so we'd better have some guaranteed stars that we already know audiences will pay to look at.

I know he's maybe 10 years older than the character is supposed to be and not actually Persian (but at least not Dutch!) but I would have enjoyed Naveen Andrews as Dastan. I still probably would have thought the movie was dumb, and I really doubt it's a role he would have jumped at, but I at least wouldn't have been distracted by the Anglos in eyeliner equals Middle Eastern thing. (I could be biased because I want to have sex with Naveen Andrews, but I also don't think I'm the only one who does.)
posted by hegemone at 6:57 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


> it turns Akira from an awesomely psychedelic fucked-up coming-of-age story to the tale of two inexplicably emotionally-stunted man-children who are rageily yelling each at other

What movies like "The Big Chill", "Diner", and so on have established is that for American men, coming-of-age can be a continuous and never-resolved thing. (See also the Stupid Dad trope in tv commercials: Man-boy dopily shucks out of responsibilities over and over again while his proxy-Mom bemusedly shakes her head and cleans up his messes.)

So since we're changing the setting and changing the cast, why not change the motivations as well. Here's my take:

Tetsuo and Kaneda were buddies back in B-school but they've both washed out of their fast-track corporate careers. Tetsuo's now day-trading in a rental office in one of the outer boroughs near an efficiency he'd had to rent after his wife kicked him out of their flat. Kaneda's between jobs, but he's always "between jobs" although he never seems to have a problem settling his bar tab with cash.

Kaneda gets paged by the manager who canned them both from the brokerage: Can they drop by corporate next week? There's a new business venture they're investigating that could benefit from our down-and-outers' particular skills.

So the following week, on the subway into Grand Central, shit starts getting weird; the kids are all creepy-looking, and even the homeless dudes start getting freaked out. Then all the lights go out and there are a lot of explosions and stuff, and that keeps going for the remaining hundred and twelve minutes of the movie. And then after the credits you see a hand reach out of the rubble, and it's lumpy in weird ways.
posted by ardgedee at 6:59 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Julie Taymor to write/direct/produce live action version of Record of Lodoss War. Bono refuses to work with her again, so she's opted for Geddy Lee instead. Initial budget is 200 million.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've been groaning ever since I heard plans to do a live action of Akira. Of all the animated movies, shows, etc, produced in Japan, they choose to go with Akira? Akira, in a way, is a bit overrated due to the fact that it hit America back in the 80's as something completely different and out of this world. For a long while, there wasn't much that was available to allow others to compare it against other works. I'm not saying the movie is awful or even mediocre, but given the content and storyline, it just seems like one of the absolutely worse anime movies to adapt. It just seems to have this aura for a number of people, and I suppose, that helped push it into being green lighted in Hollywood.

Likewise, unlike Avatar, in which the race/ethnicity of some of the characters isn't necessarily Asian (even if the culture is), Akira is straight up Japanese characters in Japan. Casting white actors in the title roles is ridiculous, and only the idea of re-adapting it to an American is more so. I've no desire to see a live action Akira, much less one adapted for the American audience. If they want to adapt an 80's anime film, they can just go with Ghost in the Shell or something.
posted by Atreides at 7:06 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've no desire to see a live action Akira, much less one adapted for the American audience.

Amen.
posted by Fizz at 7:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


To some degree, animie characters are "white" - that is, they generally do not have the stereotypical Asian facial characteristics.

It's called mukokuseki. Essentially, you're dealing with a stylized medium; ergo, the superficial racial identifiers of many iconic characters are blurred.

That said, it's extremely hard to find an anime more explicitly reliant on its Japanese setting and characters than Akira. Above all else, it's about the overweening hubris of the late Bubble years- a popular perception of invincibility brought about by the postwar economic "miracle" leading people to construct ill-advised castles in the sky. Akira, as last of the great 80's anime, is also one of the first to explicitly worry about the end of the gravy train.

When the Bubble burst in the early 90's, of course, it had about the same depth of cultural impact that the Great Depression did in the states. The result was the great post-Bubble anime: Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain, etc. If Evangelion is, say, anime's The Grapes of Wrath, then Akira is its The Great Gatsby: a vicious indictment of petty Gilded Age sorts of aspirations.

This sort of thing just doesn't translate well if you uproot it and move it to 'Neo-New York.' If they are absolutely desperate to put Akira in America and if they have half a brain among them, they should move the setting to the Detroit and try to make parallels to the period right before the Housing Crisis of '08. Even then, though, it's not going to have anywhere near the same resonance.

It's like trying to remake All Quiet on the Western Front by moving the setting to the Falklands War: there's a serious issue of effective context and scale.
posted by fifthrider at 7:07 AM on March 24, 2011 [54 favorites]


Meh. The whole idea is stupid and wrong without getting all Airbender about it.

Death to false movies!
posted by Artw at 7:12 AM on March 24, 2011


This movie sounds like it will be racist AND bad! Awesome. Now we don't have to worry about weighing principles against artistic merit.
posted by subdee at 7:21 AM on March 24, 2011


In addition to everything else, they'll probably be missing the fantastic opportunity to call the rival bike gang "the Juggalos"
This sort of thing just doesn't translate well if you uproot it and move it to 'Neo-New York.' If they are absolutely desperate to put Akira in America and if they have half a brain among them, they should move the setting to the Detroit and try to make parallels to the period right before the Housing Crisis of '08. Even then, though, it's not going to have anywhere near the same resonance.
Yeah I was thinking about that too. Manhattan is just geographically small. And how on earth could you have motorcycle gangs on such crowded streets? It just doesn't really make that much sense. As bad as all the movies set in LA are LA would actually work a lot better. They could make the movie a meditation on suburban malaise.

Really though, they should just not do this.
posted by delmoi at 7:21 AM on March 24, 2011


So since we're changing the setting and changing the cast, why not change the motivations as well. Here's my take:

You know what? Let's just call Repo Man the American Live action version of Akira. Job done, it was brilliant!
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on March 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hey, hey, hey.

To be fair, some of the bad people in The Last Airbender were Indian. Like...one of them.
posted by HostBryan at 7:24 AM on March 24, 2011


There are two major roles, and I'm told that for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson,...

W H A T

FUCK

I MEAN

WHAT

I DON'T EVEN

HUH

WHAT THE FUCK MAN

WHY YOU EVEN GOTTA DO A THING
posted by Avenger at 7:25 AM on March 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


Movie-remake-I'm-never-going-to-watch-outrage-filter.
posted by daveje at 7:29 AM on March 24, 2011


They should combine this with the Stretch Armstrong movie... Stretch Akria.

I'm right here, Hollywood! You can have more gold like this for a decent office on the lot and the usual drugs and that.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]



>Now, I might join you in questioning the wisdom of Hollywood making a live-action version of any animie or manga.

I can summarize this whole thread: Hollywood is cash-rich and artistically bankrupt. It's questionable for Hollywood to try to film *any* source material, which is artistically rich in its own right.

Let them try to make Akira. The final product will alienate the original fans, and regular viewers will just see it as another ho-hum CGI fest. They won't recoup their investment. Hollywood will then be more reluctant to film anime.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


*taking deep breaths*

Look, I'm not a movie nerd, ok? A movie is a movie. But this....

White Akira. Set in New York. Starring Robert Pattinson. It's just....

You know what it is? It's like somebody decided to make a deft parody movie-within-a-movie to illustrate how far Hollywood has fallen. Or a remake of The Producers wherein they have to come up with a movie so bad that nobody will ever want to see it.

Alien vs. Predator vs. Gandhi or something. Coming this summer: A man of peace turns to war for the salvation of mankind. Rated G.

Holy shit they have utterly lost their minds. Listen, you shitheads, I have a copy of final draft. I'll write you a fucking movie. It won't be the best ever but it'll be better than this mindless recycling bullshit. Fuck!
posted by Avenger at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Actually if you get Will Arnett to play Kaneda and replace his motorcycle with a Segway you just may have something here.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Thanks Narrative Priorities, I had never realized the full extent of Japanese racism and white-idolization in comic books.

Maybe take a minute and read the rest of the essay, which is dedicated to refuting those points you quoted, instead of deliberately misrepresenting it and me in this thread.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:35 AM on March 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, just as long as they don't try to do a live action version of Robotech, I'm fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher


Uh. You might not want to watch 01:44 of this video :/

The video is three years old and buying the rights to something really does not mean it will get made.

posted by slimepuppy at 7:36 AM on March 24, 2011


Dear nerds,
If you really hate this idea (or anything like it), then the best thing you could all do is stop talking about it, and not go see it. Not even to just see "how bad it is." It will make no money and be a laughing stock.

Instead, only go see movies that are clearly not bad and/or insulting. Those ones will make money, win awards, and then people that finance movies will rather make more like that.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:44 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks Narrative Priorities, I had never realized the full extent of Japanese racism and white-idolization in comic books.
Yeah, here's the part you quoted with leading and trailing sentances for context:
Such is my argument, but many find it unconvincing. They insist that manga characters are unmistakably “Caucasian,” and that the ubiquity of Caucasian characters in manga and Japanese popular culture generally are clear indicators of a desire on the part of Japanese to identify themselves with the European West, rather than the Asian East. Indeed a number of Western scholars have suggested that Japanese today harbor just such a desire, that they deny their “Asianness” and try instead to identify themselves with the Western, “white,” Center. The curious fact that Chinese characters appearing in manga are often portrayed using the same markers of “Asianness” (slanted eyes, straight black hair) common in Western representations may seem to be irrefutable evidence of this assertion. Yet such assertions are rife with flaws.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


WHY YOU EVEN GOTTA DO A THING

Robert Pattinson is actually a pretty nice dude who really obviously doesn't care about his role in Twilight in the slightest to the point where he isn't allowed to do interviews about it anymore. I'll fully support him trying to get any role at all that isn't a sparkly vampire.

If you really hate this idea (or anything like it), then the best thing you could all do is stop talking about it, and not go see it. Not even to just see "how bad it is." It will make no money and be a laughing stock.

The absolute wrong way to go about trying to raise awareness of egregiously dumb or bigoted thing is to ignore it, Threeway.
posted by flatluigi at 7:47 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear nerds,
If you really hate this idea (or anything like it), then the best thing you could all do is stop talking about it, and not go see it. Not even to just see "how bad it is." It will make no money and be a laughing stock.
It's called commiserating. Just because you can't change something doesn't mean you can't complain.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you really hate this idea (or anything like it), then the best thing you could all do is stop talking about it, and not go see it.

There are so many threads you can post this in.
posted by drezdn at 7:48 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


CASTING WHITE ACTORS IS A GOOD STRATEGY. AFTER ALL, IT WORKED FOR THE DRAGON BALL Z MOVIE
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Was there any Turks upset that there were no American actors in their remakes of Superman, The Wizard of Oz, or Star Trek?

Was there a backlash in the 90's from Belgians that Hercule Poirot was going to be played by David Suchet, a London-born British actor?

It seems that in this re-concepted version of the story, the characters aren't Japanese and aren't in Japan. It's going to wreck the film and make it suck, and it won't really be Akira anymore. If they have some white actors playing a Japanese people, then you may have something more solid to get all "RACIST!!!" about it.

Otherwise, it's more 'Hollywood craps out another remake turd, and shines it up with CG for America to eat' than anything else.
posted by chambers at 7:51 AM on March 24, 2011


A man of peace turns to war for the salvation of mankind.

Already done.
posted by chambers at 7:52 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This must be stopped or the next thing you know someone will be doing an all-Japanese version of Macbeth or King Lear, or a modern American all singing and dancing version of Romeo and Juliet.
posted by pracowity at 7:52 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's so different about casting 2 mid-30's guys as 15 year old Japanese kids or setting a Shakespeare play during WWII? Nothing wrong with re-inventing fiction, as long as they do a decent job at it.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:57 AM on March 24, 2011


They could just change the pronunciation of Kaneda to Canada, and write in a line about how he grew up in Toronto or something.
posted by nushustu at 7:59 AM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


This must be stopped or the next thing you know someone will be doing an all-Japanese version of Macbeth or King Lear, or a modern American all singing and dancing version of Romeo and Juliet.

But the thing is that, as fifthride said above, Akira is a film about Japan, told by Japanese people. There's nothing essentially Scottish about Macbeth or Italian Renaissance about Romeo and Juliet, and in fact neither of these stories was told by a Scotsman or an Italian.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know what I just found out?! The guy who plays Dr. House isn't even American!
posted by Brocktoon at 8:12 AM on March 24, 2011


Not to mention, notice that Throne of Blood/Ran weren't called Macbeth/King Lear. They were wholesale adaptations. If they really want to make a shitty Akira set in America with white actors, at least have the decency to call it something different.

I would agree, however, that at least with the setting change it's probably going to be not as racist as that piece of shit known as The Last Airbender. But that's like saying something is less hot than the sun.

Robert Pattinson is actually a pretty nice dude who really obviously doesn't care about his role in Twilight in the slightest to the point where he isn't allowed to do interviews about it anymore. I'll fully support him trying to get any role at all that isn't a sparkly vampire.

He does seem like a decent bloke and I love his disparagement of Twilight and Twilight fans, but man it's going to take a lot to forgive everybody involved in that piece of shit 9/11 exploitation film. (What were you thinking, Chris Cooper?!) Even beyond the stupid final twist, the rest of the film is just bad.
posted by kmz at 8:13 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems that in this re-concepted version of the story, the characters aren't Japanese and aren't in Japan.
No, but this is an American movie. The problem people have is that if you say that if you're making an American movie you need white actors, then that means if you're not white you're not a real American. Read your comment again, it doesn't really make that much sense unless Asian Americans don't count as real Americans.

Anyway, the problem I have with it is that it sounds like it's going to completely suck.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Hmm, I quoted the wrong bit of chambers's comment. Should be this:
Was there any Turks upset that there were no American actors in their remakes of Superman, The Wizard of Oz, or Star Trek?

Was there a backlash in the 90's from Belgians that Hercule Poirot was going to be played by David Suchet, a London-born British actor?
See above, being 'American' doesn't necessarily mean being white.
posted by delmoi at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2011


I guess to me that Akira seems so wrapped up in post Hiroshima and Nagasaki trauma that I don't know what the movie says to American audiences, and what it means to translate it to Manhattan.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know what I just found out?! The guy who plays Dr. House isn't even American!

So are Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake going to fake a Japanese accent for the whole movie? Actually, I might go see that.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2011


And jesus christ, if you really think having a white Englishman playing a white Belgian is exactly equivalent to having a white guy playing an East Asian, then I don't even know what to say to you.
posted by kmz at 8:22 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


> take a minute and read the rest of the essay, which is dedicated to refuting those points you quoted

The point is I did, and it didn't. All the hand-waving in the world won't change the fact that the neutral character design and the white character design is identical, and that the Japanese "Asianify" themselves when introducing Japanese characters in a setting that is not Japan.

Though this probably has less to do with self-shame than with the lasting influence of Walt Disney.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2011


I guess to me that Akira seems so wrapped up in post Hiroshima and Nagasaki trauma that I don't know what the movie says to American audiences, and what it means to translate it to Manhattan.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on March 24 [+] [!]


Seriously. What the fuck, the film is about nuclear trauma. Nothing about setting this in Manhattan makes any sense. It's also a visual treat because it's fucking animated what in the fuck is the point of this? Just... why...?
posted by johnnybeggs at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why isn't Zemeckis doing this movie with motion capture animation with a budget of $175-200M? I'm sure it would be a rousing success.

/snark. I just don't get it. I don't have a particular love for Akira, but why is Hollywood still insisting on fucking up every franchise/intellectual property in existence? And why are people still going to watch these half-assed train wrecks?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I guess to me that Akira seems so wrapped up in post Hiroshima and Nagasaki trauma that I don't know what the movie says to American audiences, and what it means to translate it to Manhattan.

"Neo-World Trade Center"
posted by ardgedee at 8:29 AM on March 24, 2011


Stuff like this is why I wish there were more of a market for repertory film screenings these days. Right now, there aren't any un-dubbed 35mm prints of Akira available in the US (and the color in what is available is rumored to be faded out to pink).

I'd so much rather see a nice restoration of the original than any Hollywood adaptation.
posted by bubukaba at 8:29 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Neo-World Trade Center"

ugh
posted by empath at 8:30 AM on March 24, 2011


I'd so much rather see a nice restoration of the original than any Hollywood adaptation.

The original was done in 70mm. Heck. let's do it right and do a true IMAX (not shitty FauxMAX) version of the film during the restoration. I'd go see it on a 5-story screen. Fuck yes!
posted by hippybear at 8:31 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll only see a live action version of Akira if Takashi Miike directs it.
posted by empath at 8:31 AM on March 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


After the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as explicitly-described black-haired olive-skinned Katniss in The Hunger Games, where in the book skin colour signifies one as high/low-class at the very least... this news doesn't surprise me one bit.

Seriously. After Bringing Down the House and Extraordinary Measures (both of which sucked, regardless of the source material), not surprised.
posted by zennish at 8:33 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Read your comment again, it doesn't really make that much sense unless Asian Americans don't count as real Americans.


Point taken, it was phrased badly. The point I mean was that if one is re-telling a story, once could change the age, race, gender, setting, whatever. My frustration is that Hollywood only thinks they can mitigate the risk of investment, and get more ticket sales by the race of actors to get more bankable, Caucasian stars, and they are wrong. Just look at any Jackie Chan movie, Harold and Kumar, etc. and Asian stars ARE quite bankable in the US for high-grossing examples. Hollywood studios really need to start banking on more Asian talent, and learn that that you could have a large array of Asian actors and make even more money. But they are still too gun shy about it.

The fact that they are changing the setting and races of the actors to get more bankable stars to get the green light for the picture looks like a cop-out. It could be, but it's possible to change the race and setting of characters in a film and have that change not motivated by racism.

I was reacting more to the sentiment that any change of character's races in a film remake is automatically racism.
posted by chambers at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is such a big Japanophile market in the US because of anime and cosplay and final fantasy, etc, that I think a big budget CGI all-Japanese sci-fi extravaganza would do really well in the US, if it were marketed properly.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The real horror will come when they decide to try to Americanize Star Blazers / Battle Spaceship Yamato.

Oh, shit, just typing that sentence I'm already envisioning it. It will involve pulling the USS Arizona up from the bottom of Pearl Harbor.... Oh, please! No! Make it stop!

*shoots self through head*
posted by hippybear at 8:41 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Shia LaBoeuf starring in Neon Genesis: Evangelion
posted by empath at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the soundtrack. For my money, it was the soundtrack that explains why Akira is sort of the go-to popular animated film out of Japan. I know there are other, better, Japanese animated films, but I've never seen another one that made me sit up and say, "wow, this soundtrack is bad-ass."

It's pretty much a main character of the film. And unless they use it in the live-action film, even if they had Japanese actors, and set it in Tokyo, and it kicked ass, I still think people would leave the theater saying, "That was good, but not as good as the animated version."
posted by nushustu at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was a Dragonball Z movie? I can imagine it now:

15 min: Finding out who they are going to fight
1 hour: Flying from wherever they are to the fight
30 min: Shouting and powering up
1 min: Fighting
posted by Jpfed at 8:45 AM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


being 'American' doesn't necessarily mean being white.

I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding about my statements that were interpreted as white=American. That was not my intent at all. The examples I posted were of films that did have a mostly white cast, and I can see how my bad choice of phrasing could make that seem to be my point. It was not.
posted by chambers at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2011


Hey, Hippybear, not Americanized, but have you seen the new live-action Star Blazers?
posted by dirtdirt at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could see this having all sorts of somber nods to 9/11. Comparing 9/11 to the utterly bleak atomic devastation and radiation horror that Japan experienced is tasteless, of course, which is exactly why I think Hollywood would do it.
posted by naju at 8:47 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most offensive part of this is you know they're going to ride modern Harleys, or *shudder* Orange County Choppers.
posted by drezdn at 8:50 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


but have you seen the new live-action Star Blazers ?

I've seen the online clips, and really REALLY want to see the actual film. It looks awesome!
posted by hippybear at 8:52 AM on March 24, 2011


The point is I did, and it didn't. All the hand-waving in the world won't change the fact that the neutral character design and the white character design is identical
You see the characters as white because you're used to seeing white people. The neutral character design in Anime is Asian. When people in Asia see those faces they see Asian faces. They don't look white to them, unless they have 'stereotypical European' features.

In fact 'white character design' doesn't look like that, because they'll include stereotypical white features, which you probably aren't picking up on. I tried to do a google search about actual ethnic white characters in Anime and all I'm getting is links of people talking about this issue.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is that Space Battleship Yamato film available stateside somehow? Doesnt seem like Netflix has it...
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on March 24, 2011


All the hand-waving in the world won't change the fact that the neutral character design and the white character design is identical

All things considered, white people don't actually look all that different to asian people, especially after simplified into cartoon form.

If asians wanted someone to be specifically white, they'd give them something identifiably caucasian like freckles or red hair.
posted by empath at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011


If they are absolutely desperate to put Akira in America and if they have half a brain among them, they should move the setting to the Detroit and try to make parallels to the period right before the Housing Crisis of '08.

Holy shit, yes. You could make one hell of an American Akira in Detroit, with a polyethnic cast (like, actually lots of ethnicities and multiracial folks, not just Justin Timberlake and other white guys plus one token black guy), and replacing the motorcycles with cars. That would righteous as hell.

the neutral character design and the white character design is identical

Nah, think Guile in Street Fighter. Huge and blond and kind of lunatic.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


here's one blog entry on it
Besides, that is not how the Japanese draw white or even Chinese people. The otherness of foreigners is clearly marked by physical stereotypes – just as Americans do with people of colour. In anime White Americans are stereotyped as having yellow hair, blue eyes and a long or big nose:
posted by delmoi at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011


There was a Dragonball Z movie? I can imagine it now:

Actually it was Dragonball, not Dragonball Z (I never watched either so I don't know the difference, but I know there is one). Chow Yun-Fat was in it. Because, you know, he's Asian.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2011


Holy shit, yes. You could make one hell of an American Akira in Detroit, with a polyethnic cast (like, actually lots of ethnicities and multiracial folks, not just Justin Timberlake and other white guys plus one token black guy), and replacing the motorcycles with cars.

Hell yeah, go for like a retro-future thing with the cars. And definitely go for a scary gang-member vibe for the main characters.

And give it an old school detroit techno soundtrack or let Richie Hawtin or Juan Atkins do the score.
posted by empath at 8:58 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And robocop should appear briefly, because everyone loves robocop.
posted by drezdn at 9:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm kinda wondering what they feel the audience demographic is for this remake. If you are not a manga fan, you have no idea what Akira is (confession: I didn't). If you are, this will make a travesty of the original.

I never thought I'd find a place to mention this, and I'm so excited now that I have the opportunity: I get book samples a lot, because I have a blog and review them, and a lot of them are YA, as teens and Moms of teens are my readers. Okay. So, last week, I get manga version of Shakespeare works! Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night with manga illustrations.

Just mind-blowingly bizarre concept to me. I can't see the demographics for that decision, either. Manga fans out there, have you been missing your classic Shakespeare? Shakespeare fans, ever thought what the bard was missing was a little manga action?

Whatever, I have to say, the illustrations appealed to me, even though I have never picked up manga before, so maybe they are onto something.
posted by misha at 9:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the soundtrack. For my money, it was the soundtrack that explains why Akira is sort of the go-to popular animated film out of Japan.

Further to my fantasies of making an American version of Akira: Cover all songs from the original. Replace all gamelan percussion instruments with a mix of American rock music drumsets, steel drums, and plastic-scrounged-from-the-garbage buckets. Dertroit MC5-style electric guitars feature heavily in the non-percussive bits. All choral singing is transmuted into gospel choirs.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:02 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


And robocop should appear briefly, because everyone loves robocop.

Fuck yes, let's get this script started right now.
posted by empath at 9:02 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


This must be stopped or the next thing you know someone will be doing an all-Japanese version of Macbeth or King Lear, or a modern American all singing and dancing version of Romeo and Juliet.

But the thing is that, as fifthride said above, Akira is a film about Japan, told by Japanese people. There's nothing essentially Scottish about Macbeth or Italian Renaissance about Romeo and Juliet, and in fact neither of these stories was told by a Scotsman or an Italian.


I'm pretty sure he was just making a funny.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2011


Are the makers of this film aware that there are a lot of Asians living in New York City now. In fact NYC is a minority majority city. It's not like in the future there are going to be more white people an less minorities.

This is all about box office and lazy casting.
posted by brookeb at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is that Space Battleship Yamato film available stateside somehow? Doesnt seem like Netflix has it...

It has distribution deals in several countries, including China, Germany and France, but so far there isn't any announced US release.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on March 24, 2011


Hell yeah, go for like a retro-future thing with the cars. And definitely go for a scary gang-member vibe for the main characters.

And give it an old school detroit techno soundtrack or let Richie Hawtin or Juan Atkins do the score.


That would be the only way to salvage what this project is shaping up to be. The *car*chase scene in the beginning would have to have Jeff Mills - The Bells as the soundtrack.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 9:05 AM on March 24, 2011


Wait, if we're doing it in Detroit, let's make the main characters all muslims from new dearborn, and have kind of a techno-middle eastern fusion for the music.
posted by empath at 9:08 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


The best part about filming it in Detroit is that you don't actually have to build any post-apocalyptic sets.
posted by empath at 9:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


A member of a writing group I'm in flamed out like, yesterday over a discussion we were having over the similarly racially clueless casting of The Hunger Games. I'm fine with the final choices of the producers, but they didn't even open up casting to non-white actresses. And that's what bugs me here--the producers might want to go for "big names" or whatever if these opportunities are never extended to actors of color, how are they ever supposed to become big names?

Anyway, during her flame-out she cited Airbender as an example of racially sensitive casting. Experiences like that--and threads like these--make me really appreciate metafilter.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:13 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lest we forget, Avatar cast Aasif Mandvi as a villain. Not a jokey villain. Just a straight-laced bad guy officer, IIRC.

I saw the movie on Rifftrax a few months ago.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:14 AM on March 24, 2011


I'm kinda wondering what they feel the audience demographic is for this remake. If you are not a manga fan, you have no idea what Akira is (confession: I didn't). If you are, this will make a travesty of the original.
I was going to mention this, but Hollywood just wants a brand to stick on their movies. They don't care at all about the source Material. Look at the movie I, Robot The script was done without reference to the source material at all. It was going to be called Hardwired, but the studio had the I, Robot license so they threw in some references to the book (which was actually a collection of short stories spanning many years) and cast Will Smith.
Fuck yes, let's get this script started right now.
Okay, Gang Bangers vs. Juggalos in a post-apocalyptic (i.e. pretty much it's current state) Detroit. Except in this version the area has been abandoned due to a radioactive event, and people are afraid to live there unless they're really poor. Of course the abandoned plant wasn't really a nuclear reactor failure, but the self-destruction mechanism at a secret government facility.... The cars are all old beat up old hotrods. That's my take.

Eventually Tetsuo goes into the old reactor building using a Geiger Counter made by the nerdy kid in the gang (technology banned by the government) to avoid the worst radiation. There, they make a shocking discovery.

Soon after that, feds raid the Area and scan everyone, arresting Tetsuo, and the rest of the plot follows.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


vs. Juggalos

HOLY SHIT. It's almost like it was meant to be.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on March 24, 2011


live action version of Great Teacher Onizuka

What. This thing might be the best thing.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:18 AM on March 24, 2011


Anyway, during her flame-out she cited Airbender as an example of racially sensitive casting.

*boggles* Like, they meant that seriously? Not as some jokey ironic thing?

I saw the movie on Rifftrax a few months ago.

The movie was so bad even the Rifftrax didn't really save it. Made it more bearable, sure, but I think like the Star Wars Holiday Special, it's something so terrible it can't even be redeemed by laughing at it.
posted by kmz at 9:20 AM on March 24, 2011


Yeah, white because it's in NYC!!! is super funny to me. Good catch, brookeb.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:20 AM on March 24, 2011


Of course the abandoned plant wasn't really a nuclear reactor failure, but the self-destruction mechanism at a secret government facility....

The government blamed it on an experimental fusion powerplant that was sabotaged by muslim terrorists, necessitating a fascist crackdown.
posted by empath at 9:22 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see the studio once again passed over my adapted screenplay that starred Matthew McConaughey in a New Austin devastated by a horrible SXSW. He plays a lawyer turned surfer, whose girlfriend is Amanda Seyfried, that battles an evil DEA agent that's trying to confiscate all the weed in the city using psychic children. I don't want to give too much away, but the soundtrack is 100% Sammy Hagar.

I would watch the shit out of this movie. White-folks Akira and white-folks Lodoss War will not be getting my cinema dollars, though. Not even though Netflix. Life is too short to watch shitty movies, even if we're MST3King them in our own living room.
posted by immlass at 9:24 AM on March 24, 2011


And that's what bugs me here--the producers might want to go for "big names" or whatever if these opportunities are never extended to actors of color, how are they ever supposed to become big names?
It's easy, just be born in China/Hong Kong. It worked for Zhang Ziyi, Chow Yun fat, Bai Ling, Jackie Chan, Gong Li. etc.
posted by delmoi at 9:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Casting a bunch of white guys guys in their mid-thirties in a Japanese teenage coming of age story. For fuck's sake. Fuck you, Hollywood. Fuck you sideways with a rusty nail.

The appropriate remedy is to cast the members of SMAP in a re-make Stand By Me.

*shudder*
posted by Hoopo at 9:27 AM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's easy, just be born in China/Hong Kong.

And get famous making movies in China and Hong Kong, first.
posted by empath at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2011


how are they going to do the part at the end (of the manga) where the American special forces team get's it's ass kicked?
posted by ennui.bz at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2011


I like how we fall into arguing about whether anime characters are white or not but talk very little about Hollywood's inability to cast people of color. Because one of these things has impact on people's jobs and careers.

I mean, think about the possible ethnicities in America when I say:

- A violent teenage gang
- People being guinea pigs for medical experiments against their will
- Living in a burnt out husk of an inner city
- Where the police station is a "temporary" shell where people are taken to be beaten.

Unless we're talking the days when the Irish and Italians were considered subhuman, I don't think white people are what you'd be thinking of.
posted by yeloson at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


I see the studio once again passed over my adapted screenplay that starred Matthew McConaughey in a New Austin devastated by a horrible SXSW. He plays a lawyer turned surfer, whose girlfriend is Amanda Seyfried, that battles an evil DEA agent that's trying to confiscate all the weed in the city using psychic children. I don't want to give too much away, but the soundtrack is 100% Sammy Hagar.
Of course in the Austin version the two gangs would be Hipsters vs. Hipsters who like a slightly different type of indie rock.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course in the Austin version the two gangs would be Hipsters vs. Hipsters who like a slightly different type of indie rock.

The mustaches will be EPIC.
posted by drezdn at 9:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has anyone optioned Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for live-action? That, to me, would be a much better platform than Akira. We know how much the Matrix lifted from the Ghost in the Shell movie, but I'm talking about the TV show.
posted by gen at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, think about the possible ethnicities in America when I say:

- A violent teenage gang
- People being guinea pigs for medical experiments against their will
- Living in a burnt out husk of an inner city
- Where the police station is a "temporary" shell where people are taken to be beaten.

Unless we're talking the days when the Irish and Italians were considered subhuman, I don't think white people are what you'd be thinking of.


So you're saying this should be a remake of The Warriors.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:39 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we're going to do a gritty, urban, multi-ethnic version of Akira, I think we should get the director of City of God to do it.
posted by empath at 9:48 AM on March 24, 2011


Man, I can't wait for this Akira: Detroit flick to come out. Have they announced a release date?
posted by jtron at 9:52 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the main point is the overall whiteness of Hollywood. The opportunities for minority actors are scarce. To only seek white actors only exacerbate's Hollywood's diversity problem.

If you're gonna set a pic in NYC in the near future, well, you're wrong to think that NYC is mostly white.
posted by CrazyJoel at 9:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just mind-blowingly bizarre concept to me. I can't see the demographics for that decision, either. Manga fans out there, have you been missing your classic Shakespeare? Shakespeare fans, ever thought what the bard was missing was a little manga action?

One audience for these are reluctant readers. The story remain relatively true to the play, but people who dislike full length prose works (much less, Shakespeare) are more likely to pick up and be engaged by manga. I've talked to teachers and YA librarians who say they actually do work.
posted by codacorolla at 9:56 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: I think that this casting decision has more to do with what Hollywood thinks of American audience than overt racism on their part (although there might still be a little overt racism too).
posted by codacorolla at 9:58 AM on March 24, 2011


Shia LaBoeuf starring in Neon Genesis: Evangelion

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

Seriously though. no. Just imagine Shinji, in his plug, angsting and saying that. he would. :P Bad enough the changes the live action that almost happened was seeming to do.

There is so much in Akira that is so intrinsically Japanese that it's not even funny. When i first saw it in the theater back in the day (i'm old, heh), it amazed me because before that the only anime i saw was Robotech, and it was insane and awesome. As years went on, i learned so much more about things in it, from reading the manga to learning about the culture. Those "biker gangs", actually Bōsōzoku, which is not quite near what we think of biker gangs. So much else that was left out of the movie, that makes it even more Japanese, all i can imagine is it becoming some stupid allegory for terrorism and becoming a big rah rah america thing, instead of a "we aren't allowed to decide our own fate and must be occupied by other nations" that runs more though the books.

Bad idea all around. :P
posted by usagizero at 10:01 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


One audience for these are reluctant readers. The story remain relatively true to the play, but people who dislike full length prose works (much less, Shakespeare) are more likely to pick up and be engaged by manga

I also suspect the fact they were meant for stage would mean a manga format would help illustrate context somewhat by expressing details visually--in addition to explaining what the hell they're talking about to people new to Shakespeare. Personally, in 9th grade I had no clue what 50% of the language in Shakespeare's plays meant unless it was translated for me by the teacher.
posted by Hoopo at 10:02 AM on March 24, 2011


Those "biker gangs", actually Bōsōzoku

How awesome would it be if they made the white actors wear some of the more out-there bosozoku fashion and hairstyles?
posted by Hoopo at 10:13 AM on March 24, 2011


here's the script
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, in the script the title card says:

"Desperate to boost its collapsing economy, the US agrees to sell the now-vacant island [of manhattan] to Japan for settlement by its booming population"

Which explains why the main characters are still named Tetsuo and Keneda.
posted by empath at 10:33 AM on March 24, 2011


here's the script

Dear god. They give away the mystery that's being explored on PAGE 2!!!

*bangs head on desk*
posted by hippybear at 10:34 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Desperate to boost its collapsing economy, the US agrees to sell the now-vacant island [of manhattan] to Japan for settlement by its booming population"

So it's set in an 80s future?

Also: Robocop 3.
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on March 24, 2011


And it looks like Tetsuo has been renamed Travis. Unless I'm reading this script wrong.
posted by hippybear at 10:38 AM on March 24, 2011


TRAAAAVIIIIISSSSSS!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2011


TRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVIS!
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2011


Dammit.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2011


CANAAAAAAAAADA!
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear god. They give away the mystery that's being explored on PAGE 2!!!

Omigod that is the stupidest thing. Omigod omigod omigod.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:44 AM on March 24, 2011


And it looks like Tetsuo has been renamed Travis. Unless I'm reading this script wrong.

It honestly doesn't seem terrible at a first skim.

Better than the Mountains of Madness script, anyway.
posted by empath at 10:44 AM on March 24, 2011


I'll go see it as long as they cut all that yelling and head asploding.
posted by benzenedream at 10:46 AM on March 24, 2011


"Hold Position" cliche on page 1!
posted by delmoi at 10:47 AM on March 24, 2011


So here's what it's, whether it's Akira, Last Airbender Racefail, or whatever.

White producer grabs an ethnic or multicultural concept.

White producer decides to make the project Americanized by removing or marginalizing non-white influences and casting whites in the main rolls (because American = white, dontchaknow)

White fanboys who would never ever consider themselves racist will defend the producers decision on the basis of "you need famous people", "The source material is white anyway", and "well some non-whites did the same, so it's OK" and "If you don't like it, don't talk about it."

Ladies and gentlemen, this is white privilege in a nutshell. And cultural appropriation for good measure. And you know, just fuck the explanations; we've been over this shit so many times that it's obviously no longer a matter of ignorance or mistaken viewpoint, but of willful denial in order to keep enjoying the benefits of white privilege without suffering the pangs of guilt.

So fuck the bigoted producers of the American Akira, and fuck the crypto bigots who are defending them or denying the seriousness of the insult. I just wish you guys would stop trying to pretend you're any different from the fratboys who like blackface minstral shows because you believe non-whites are inferior.

Just stop pretending already, OK?
posted by happyroach at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


Okay in the script "Travis" is 11 and Kaneda is 14, Their first scene is in a school. So clearly the person who did the script was expecting Child actors, not Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, okay so they show the Kaneda/Travis introduction then skip ahead 10 years
posted by delmoi at 10:53 AM on March 24, 2011


Jeez. Okay. That script ALMOST gets it. But the addition of the Oracle from the Matrix, the way they've changed the stadium scene, and the lack of closure....

I'm really pretty sure I won't be seeing this.
posted by hippybear at 10:53 AM on March 24, 2011


re european characters in anime: I think the episode with the gay dutch guy in Samurai Champloo visualizes the different ethnic features in anime pretty well.
posted by ts;dr at 10:54 AM on March 24, 2011


And cultural appropriation for good measure.

So fuck the bigoted producers of the American Akira, and fuck the crypto bigots who are defending them or denying the seriousness of the insult.


I assume Otomo was paid hansomely for the rights to do an American live action version of the film, so I'm not sure it's an insult, or racist. Was it racist when they remade The Ring and cast all americans? Was it racist when they moved Let The Right One in to New Mexico?

I think it's a poor artistic decision to recast Akira in New York, but I don't think it's remotely racist to do so.

It would definitely be racist to keep it in Tokyo or have characters who are supposed to be Japanese played by white people, though.
posted by empath at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the best part about what happened with the Last Airbender was that it was a total flop at the box office, which means that Hollywood totally knows better than to racefail like that again.

What's that, you say? It was actually a global smash hit? Oh well.

(Also, if my fellow podcast fans are so inclined, there is some pretty funny skewering of The Last Airbender on How Did This Get Made.)
posted by norm at 11:03 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, with the magic of Hollywood accounting, a film budgeted at $130million which only takes in $320million isn't that big of a smash hit. I think I've heard that movies have to basically triple-key their budget to be considered profitable anymore.
posted by hippybear at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2011


Actually in the script the city Is "New Tokyo", not new Manhatten, it's been taken over by the Japanese. I think the script writer wrote Kaneda as a Japanese American. I'm only on page 8, though.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on March 24, 2011


Well, the script is from 2008. Whether anything we see in those pages ever actually ends up on the screen, that's something else entirely.
posted by hippybear at 11:10 AM on March 24, 2011


Fuck it. Donald Glover for Tetsuo, kids!
posted by mobunited at 11:14 AM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Steve "let's give every line to Hermione" Kloves is rewriting the script.

"Desperate to boost its collapsing economy, the US agrees to sell the now-vacant island [of manhattan] to Japan for settlement by its booming population"

If this version is accurate, the setting is still Japan, basically. So they can't even use re-setting as an excuse.
posted by kmz at 11:18 AM on March 24, 2011


"New Los Angeles" would probably be a better setting than "New New York," but a complete remake doesn't sound like a bad idea. A Japanese version would probably star members of Hey!Say!Jump and music by other Johnny's groups. Did anyone see Gantz? Ninomiya is probably the best out of all the idol/actors and it was still awful.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:19 AM on March 24, 2011


If this version is accurate, the setting is still Japan, basically. So they can't even use re-setting as an excuse.

If anything, it gives you an excuse to be able to cast pretty much every ethnic background on earth.
posted by empath at 11:20 AM on March 24, 2011


Neo-Manhattan, eh? Does The Donald's hair have a cameo?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:22 AM on March 24, 2011


Hairtsuooooooo!
posted by hippybear at 11:23 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


If anything, it gives you an excuse to be able to cast pretty much every ethnic background on earth.

Yeah, reading the script they call the gang 'multi-ethnic' or something, and specifically refer to Kaori as being Japanese. I assume Kaneda and "Yamagata" are supposed to be Japanese in the script.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on March 24, 2011


Okay in the script "Travis" is 11 and Kaneda is 14, Their first scene is in a school. So clearly the person who did the script was expecting Child actors, not Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson.

No way. It'll be Justin and Rob straight up wearing Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits, complete with giant lollipops that they'll fight with in Act III.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't have a problem with white actors if Akira is being remade (or reimagined or whatever) as a an American film set in America. But yeah, the culture referents just can't be the same if the story is taken out of Japan, and if you change all of that there won't be much of the original story left.

Kaneda, Tetsuo and the rest are teenagers for a reason. They were born after the destruction of Tokyo, and have no memory of what came before. This means they're as fucked up and doomed as the Neo society that produced them. The city is destined to annihilate itself one way or another, and even if the events of the movie never occurred, none of the main cast (with the possible exception of Kaori) would make it to age 25.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:30 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Akira is a film about past nuclear trauma crossed with future anxiety about nuclear power, technology, earthquakes, population density, and political corruption. There are reasons why it should resonate in Hollywood particularly, but even reflected in an American sci-fi context it's closer to Blade Runner and Terminator than King Kong or Cloverfield. Setting it in Manhattan is a stupid idea, and the decision to do so seems of a piece with the ultraconservative casting. This will end up looking like the bastard offspring of End of Days and 2012, but with motorcycles and all the emotional truth of Independence Day or Revenge of the Sith.

This is a Japanese film, for Japan to make. As a matter of fact I think this would be a uniquely good time for a studio in Japan to make it - it has a built in audience as an anime classic, the ideas it explores are more globally relevant than ever, and a Japanese creative team will be able to bring more emotional truth and more daring visual concepts to every aspect of the story than an American studio will. I say will instead of could, because if enough creative people were given a free hand, then the underlying concept could be a great framework to examine the American investment of political and economic capital in Asia (from Turkey to Japan) as a hegemonic strategy, followed by some rueful discoveries about the limits of foresight and the dangers of overconfidence...but Hollywood is not up to that sort of narrative complexity at present, and I'm not sure that epic contrasts of scale are the best tools for American film to explore itself. Going large in the literal sense of giant monsters necessarily involves diminishing all the bystanders. This can work in a context like Japan where both geography and demographics underpin a fairly homogeneous cultural identity and drastic shifts of narrative scale are possible without compromising membership. In a more culturally, geographically and ethnically diverse society like the US, the effect of such changes in perspective is usually to diminish rather than unify (as a common humanity); the 'othering' of cities like New Orleans and Detroit being a case in point. American film is most honest, and best, when it shifts scale from the epic to the uncomfortably intimate, and explores conflict and morality on the individual level. This story will end up feeling more like a cartoon than the anime version, because the first hour will be loaded with over-earnest character and backstory development which will become completely irrelevant in the second half. It's going to end up as a very expensive Asylum movie. In fact an Asylum movie would have more emotional truth, much like a toddler rampage in a grenade factory.

If I had the money to do so, I would buy the rights and take them back to Japan, or find someone who wanted to co-finance production in Japan, with an eye towards a slow but steady return based on the anime film's proven market success. At a time when the Japanese economy is bleeding and the country is suffering multiple traumas, taking one of Japan's key cultural exports and rebranding it for the slurpee generation seems like the cultural equivalent of mugging someone who's just been hit by a bus. I don't care if it gets an A+, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Roger Ebert loves it so much that he delivers his glowing review as a musical number in 3d, I will not watch it.

Some concepts are portable, and many filmmakers in both Japan and the US have done great work by remaking or even ripping off each others' concepts. Other countries too, but Japan and the US have a unique cultural relationship for a variety of historical reasons. This particular project just isn't going to work. Just thinking about it as a filmmaker makes me want to squirm in embarrassment.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:43 AM on March 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


> they're setting it in New Manhattan (I guess New New York was taken) instead of Neo Tokyo

So what hollywood learned from the Godzilla remake about relocating an iconic Tokyo story to NY was your basic nothing.
posted by jfuller at 11:49 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ladies and gentlemen, this is white privilege in a nutshell. And cultural appropriation for good measure

I'm not sure about white privilege here, this isn't The Last Samurai or anything and there's nothing inherently wrong with re-telling a story. The Japanese are no slouches when it comes to cultural appropriation, and I can't see how that's necessarily negative. I certainly didn't find the appropriation of "Western" culture in Japan to be offensive when I lived there, nor is it offensive that Kurosawa re-envisioned a lot of Western books into films set in a Japanese context.

That said, I find the whole idea of a live-action American Akira re-make baffling. I mean, why?!? The story doesn't even make sense out of context and is full of tropes and conventions fairly unique to Japan.
posted by Hoopo at 11:57 AM on March 24, 2011


Neo-Manhattan, eh? Does The Donald's hair have a cameo?

It turns up in the Olympic stadium in the third act and crushes Kaori to death.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:14 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what would make a pretty epic Japanese-American movie? The life story of George Takei. From the internment camps to space - and beyond!
posted by Artw at 12:19 PM on March 24, 2011


Would this be a good time to say that I don't understand why people are starting to make two movies instead of one movie for everything? Just make a long movie.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:20 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the same reason hip hop sucked in 96.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Watching Tron: Legacy, I sort of had this thought.

Movies are products meant to have a baseline appeal to as many people as possible, but that baseline appeal only has to be so much, enough to get them into the theater. There needs to be relatable elements to the movie that make some kind of connection. For me and Tron: Legacy, it was the soundtrack, Jeff Bridges, and the original movie. Three ideas that should go well together. But they didn't, movie felt like it was written by a committee. Overdrawn at the memory bank was a slightly better film than Tron Legacy.

And why? Because it has to make as much money as possible. The things I mentioned that appealed to me were Niche Appeal, which you can't make a movie off of and profit (see Scott Pilgrim Vs The World). If you want to break even, the film has to be like a blunt object and audiences have to respond to it on a lizard-brain level.

That's what's happening with Akira. Need to have that lizard-brain level stuff in there, the characters aren't so much white as they are instantly recognizable. Floating heads are on most movie posters because..well..that's what appeals to the lizard-brain. Face recognition. Coming of age and Nuclear worries be damned.

They're making a product, to be sold, not some kind of artistic statement. They're doing this because making an actual good film is too much work and they aren't willing to put up the risk.

It's disappointing because it's such a great story, the hollywood machine has people that care about the story too, but there's too many people they have to please.
posted by hellojed at 12:21 PM on March 24, 2011


If Hollywood had remade Akira a year or two after the anime premiered in North America, it would have worked much better as a cold war nightmare, but would probably look dated now. Something like "Fahrenheit 451" (novel written in 1951, movie filmed in 1966) is much closer to Akira's thematic concerns, and is very American in a more timeless way. They should remake that one.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:26 PM on March 24, 2011


Ladies and gentlemen, this is white privilege in a nutshell. And cultural appropriation for good measure. And you know, just fuck the explanations; we've been over this shit so many times that it's obviously no longer a matter of ignorance or mistaken viewpoint, but of willful denial in order to keep enjoying the benefits of white privilege without suffering the pangs of guilt.

No, it's not white privilege, any more than Ran was revanchist Japanese imperialism. Also, saying 'fuck the explanations' and restating critical theory does not add up to a moral framework.

It's just an inability to engage with theme. Akira is an exciting book/film with a rather ridiculous plot. Making sense of it requires taking some time to engage with Japanese culture and work out how the film reflects the society it was made in so as to get a handle on what ideas are being offered, and emotions expressed, by the creators(s). This is true for any artistic work, of course. It just so happens that Akira is an intense exploration of issues that Americans haven't had to wrestle with, so instead of engaging an audience an American makeover is going to end up disengaged from any source material or indeed logic, and probably bomb as a result.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:27 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let Gainax do an animated remake and be done with it.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:31 PM on March 24, 2011


Oops! I distractedly forgot to say that the best way to kill this project would be a fake trailer using footage from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Motorcycles! New York! Helicopters! Scientists! Energy! Computer graphics! People gazing at rapidly updating screens with looks of horror!
posted by anigbrowl at 12:47 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops! I distractedly forgot to say that the best way to kill this project would be a fake trailer using footage from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Motorcycles! New York! Helicopters! Scientists! Energy! Computer graphics! People gazing at rapidly updating screens with looks of horror!
Title card: AKIRA:NYC
posted by delmoi at 12:56 PM on March 24, 2011


Would this be a good time to say that I don't understand why people are starting to make two movies instead of one movie for everything? Just make a long movie.

Let the Wu Tang Clan guide you to the truth.
posted by Errant at 12:56 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, it's not white privilege, any more than Ran was revanchist Japanese imperialism.

Heavily adapted cultural artifact (Lear) != pseudo definitive first movie adaptation.

Problem here is not just an aesthetic/artistic failure (definitely an issue but not the issue), it's not just the cultural tone deafness, it's the "fuck you Japan, we know what's best and we'll make your shitty little 'animes' into something people actually want to see".

And that is a form of imperialism and white privilege. We don't need to care because we're white [sic] and we do things better.
posted by litleozy at 1:03 PM on March 24, 2011


"fuck you Japan, we know what's best and we'll make your shitty little 'animes' into something people actually want to see".
I see it more as "let's strip-mine culture for any brands that will get people to see the movie! It doesn't matter how good it is so long as we can cut a good trailer!"
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to mention, notice that Throne of Blood/Ran weren't called Macbeth/King Lear. They were wholesale adaptations. If they really want to make a shitty Akira set in America with white actors, at least have the decency to call it something different.

I think they should call this movie "John."
posted by ignignokt at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Jesus"
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on March 24, 2011


Kaneda, Tetsuo and the rest are teenagers for a reason. They were born after the destruction of Tokyo, and have no memory of what came before.

This is true, but if you notice the bulk of protagonists in Anime and Manga is very young and have been for a very long time. Some people might handwave this away and talk about market demographic but if you look at American analogs, young people are rarely the main protagonist and very yound people never. That is aside from the stuff Disney and the like produce but they rarely produce "hard" sci-fi stuff.
The way I've heard this explained is because of what you hit on. After WWII, the younger generation that survived were put in the spotlight as the next generation to carry Japan into the future. Sound familiar? So even the fact that their going to change the main characters to 20-somethings intrinsically changes one of the themes.

It just so happens that Akira is an intense exploration of issues that Americans haven't had to wrestle with, so instead of engaging an audience an American makeover is going to end up disengaged from any source material or indeed logic, and probably bomb as a result.

True indeed. I just finished reading War Dances by Sherman Alexie. There's a short story, Fearful Symmetry, in there about a writer that gets picked by a major movie studio to write a script based on another book. The director with whom he ends up meeting wants to do some changes to the setting and characters. But the changes would rip out the major theme of the work and would thus undermine and actually eliminates the point for the existence of the story. It's an interesting story that I can't help but see parallels to here.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2011


SCREENPLAY SPOILER ALERT!!!













The more I think about the ending of that screenplay, the more frustrated I get. No rampant out of control growth, the girl gets killed by a deflected bullet rather than crushed to death by her former boyfriend, and when Akira finally rises, he doesn't take Tetsuo (or whaever his name ends up being) away because he's too dangerous, he instead assumes a throne, Tetsuo kneels before him, and...

Sequel setup!

Fuck.
posted by hippybear at 1:19 PM on March 24, 2011


No rampant out of control growth,

wat

That's like the best part of the movie. It's goddamned essential.

What do they replace it with?

posted by empath at 1:23 PM on March 24, 2011


the neutral character design and the white character design is identical

Nah, think Guile in Street Fighter. Huge and blond and kind of lunatic.


See also: Ken (although he's only 1/4 white!) and Galford.
posted by ignignokt at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011


I see it more as "let's strip-mine culture for any brands that will get people to see the movie! It doesn't matter how good it is so long as we can cut a good trailer!"

Heh, that's fair enough really. It's just that an offset of the 'Hollywood mold' is that when people intentionally strip-mine what then ends up being in effect is a 'fuck you and your culture, we know what works here'.

I wouldn't find this as much as an issue if Hollywood wasn't the near global institution it is, with the dominance and authority that comes with that (not to mention the colonial history). If Bollywood did exactly the same thing Hollywood is doing here, I wouldn't really have a problem with that. Even if the movie was terrible.
posted by litleozy at 1:28 PM on March 24, 2011


They replace it with Tetsuo using psychic powers against everyone around him, the satellite trying to fry him, Tetsuo using his powers to destroy the satellite, somewhere he loses his arm and makes a new one for himself, Kaori shows up, Tetsuo is distracted by her, someone tries to shoot him, he puts up a force field and the bullet ricochets and kills Kaori, Tetsuo gets pissy about that and starts destroying things with his powers, then he sets off a new psychic "bomb" destruction which doesn't hurt him, but brings back Akira, who reassembles himself and makes a throne for himself.

That's it.
posted by hippybear at 1:30 PM on March 24, 2011


Well, if you're splitting it in half you'd probably want all the monster growth stuff in the second movie.

/trying to remember order of events in comic.

/readys hippybears second comment

I guess they weren't saving much. That sounds horrible.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on March 24, 2011


Speaking of the 'are amine characters white' thing, Another example of characters who are obviously japanese check out Summer Wars which is a pretty recent Anime. I found it kind of trite. But most of the characters are absolutely Japanese people in Japan. They don't look any different from any other Anime characters. One character has blond hair and mustache, and I guess he was supposed to white, but I wasn't sure.
posted by delmoi at 1:32 PM on March 24, 2011


I seem to remember Akira making a throne for himself as roughly the half-way point of the manga? I have a very bad memory.
posted by naju at 1:33 PM on March 24, 2011


They replace it with Tetsuo using psychic powers against everyone around him, the satellite trying to fry him, Tetsuo using his powers to destroy the satellite
Ahem, I think you mean Travis
posted by delmoi at 1:34 PM on March 24, 2011


TRAAAAAAAAAVISSSSS!

/does not get old.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: that's the thing. They aren't splitting ANYTHING in half. They're simply setting up what should be a one-off story as a franchise origin story film. It's nearly the entire original story, except for a few changes here and there. Literally all they've done is rather than have Akira be this figure who appears and kind of solves things at the end, they've set it up for him to be some kind of demi-god figure in a sequel, with Tetsuo at his side.
posted by hippybear at 1:35 PM on March 24, 2011


Given the abomination Stan Lee perpetrated on Japan, perhaps this is just karma?
posted by pwnguin at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2011


I do seem to remember him sitting around on a throne for a bit, but way before that other stuff. Does it seem like they are going to do the whole gangs fighting over ruined Tokyo bit that was dropped from the cartoon?

TBH I'm not entirely sure that Akira isn't better off with a lot of the things the cartoon leaves out gone.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on March 24, 2011


Nah, it's a nearly shot for shot and idea for idea recasting of the movie, so a lot of the more complex things from the manga aren't in the screenplay. So there's about the same amount of biker gang stuff going on in the new screenplay as there was in the original film.
posted by hippybear at 1:40 PM on March 24, 2011


You know what would be great? A movie about a gang of plucky all-American teens (the brain, the muscle, guy with a Jughead hat) struggling to win a Battle of the Bands so that they could pay the property taxes on the old backlot and prevent the heartless Old Man Warner from using it to film an American remake of Akira.
posted by No-sword at 1:40 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well the anime and the manga are two different stories that share a lot of similiar themes with the anime being a shortened version. Akira actually exists as a person in the manga rather than some test tubes as he does in the anime. I don't even rember any kind of growth stuff in the Manga but I haven't picked it up in a couple of years. They also leave out most of the drug themes in the anime, aside from a few scenes.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:41 PM on March 24, 2011


Hmm, the Storyline of the Manga is very different from the movie version. Akira is released in volume 2 of six, for example.
posted by delmoi at 1:41 PM on March 24, 2011


Gigantic mutating Tetsuo will be the new Times Square Squid....
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on March 24, 2011


Or Cloverfield monster. Which is probably what they're looking to recapture.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:43 PM on March 24, 2011


The growing trick I remember most from the manga is when he kind of merges with some jetplanes and aircraft carriers and stuff...
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2011


I'll have to pick that up again. I just remember Akira being a huge asshole demi-god king.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:45 PM on March 24, 2011


The manga was quite amazing and better than the movie, actually. This just inspired me to pick up the whole collection.
posted by naju at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2011


The middle sections just seemed to go on forever for me... mileage may vary and all that.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on March 24, 2011


This is what an American looks like in anime: Bandit Keith Howard

In America!
posted by ilikemefi at 2:00 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just remember Akira being a huge asshole demi-god king.

Yuh huh.

(I like Otomo's classic art. The European influence--both from comics and traditional painters--is fascinatingly obvious. Also, his characters are remarkably Japanese looking.)
posted by byanyothername at 2:02 PM on March 24, 2011


Metafilter: Just because you can't change something doesn't mean you can't complain.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:24 PM on March 24, 2011


I'm not sure about white privilege here, this isn't The Last Samurai or anything and there's nothing inherently wrong with re-telling a story. The Japanese are no slouches when it comes to cultural appropriation, and I can't see how that's necessarily negative. I certainly didn't find the appropriation of "Western" culture in Japan to be offensive when I lived there, nor is it offensive that Kurosawa re-envisioned a lot of Western books into films set in a Japanese context.

As a Western person, you should be aware that the West, especially America, has a way of dominating the world with its culture and mores. It's not so much that Japanese people are appropriating Western culture as they have no choice but to have it shoved in their faces every single day, whether they like it or not. If people who have no choice but to deal with Western culture every day then take that Western culture and incorporate it into their lives, it's disingenuous to say that it was voluntary.

Also, it's nice that you're not offended, but as someone from the dominant culture, someone who benefits from the privilege you have of not being aware of being from the dominating culture, you're not in a credible position to speak about what's offensive and to whom.

When white people take a Japanese movie filled with Japanese characters and change the setting to America, yet keep all of the Japanese characters and then change their race so they're white? That is the essence of white privilege, and it's racist. There are plenty of Asian and Asian-American actors who could fill those roles. It's a lack of vision, a lack of ability to see beyond white skin on the part of the people in charge of casting.

Or maybe if it was so necessary to remake this movie, it could have been completely remade with a new title, American characters and it should only be reusing the plot in a more general way.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:42 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a load of double-standard bullshit.

Japan is a full fledged member of the international community and a world power, one with an imperialist history of its own. Don't give me that colonialist oppression bullshit. We never colonized Japan. We may have defeated it and occupied it after WWII, but it was no more a colonialist adventure than our occupation of Germany was, which is to say not at all.

They're grown ups, and they're playing on the same playing field that America is.
posted by empath at 6:51 PM on March 24, 2011


Which is to say Japan is perfectly free to adapt American movies to Japan and cast all Japanese actors and America is free to do the same in reverse, and neither is racism, and both are done willingly. My only problem with an Akira remake is that taking the Japan out of the story makes it nonsensical, like doing a Bollywood remake of Schindler's List, or something.
posted by empath at 6:55 PM on March 24, 2011


Executives at Fox International Productions were surprised when their counterparts at Fuji TV, one of Japan’s biggest television and film producers, proposed the remake nearly a year ago. “We thought, ‘Wow, that movie?’ ” said Sanford Panitch, president of Fox International. But he knew enough to recognize what he didn’t know. “If we’re making films for the Japanese market, we have to make them the way the Japanese make them,” he said.

Sideways’ Returns, Uncorked for Japan

posted by gen at 7:21 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


you're not in a credible position to speak about what's offensive and to whom.

I am Japanese. I am offended.
posted by gen at 7:22 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It should be animated by the team that did the Clayface episodes of Batman the Animated Series

actually, Batman Beyond had a Jokerz gang that was very, very Akira

So you're saying this should be a remake of The Warriors.

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

i saw the anime for the millionth time recently and was struck by how amazing the opening scenes are. it just felt dark and shiny and action-packed in all the right ways. can anyone make action flicks like that? Terminator 2 kinda comes close

live action is a bad idea, though it has the potential to be even grosser than the anime
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:32 PM on March 24, 2011


Actually I didn't tell anyone what to be offended by, I was speaking for myself, and that was really condescending of you. Also I am absolutely not in "the dominant culture" when I'm in Japan, I have no idea what you're talking about there and I think it's likely you don't either.
posted by Hoopo at 9:45 PM on March 24, 2011


Cultural theft works both ways.

Though why you'd choose to steal that example, I don't understand.
posted by Neale at 11:00 PM on March 24, 2011


Me, I'm all for it. Pure is poor.
posted by Artw at 11:05 PM on March 24, 2011


Japan seems to be in pretty firm control of it's culture, in fact it's probably one of the biggest cultural exporters in the world. Certainly Anime has had a huge impact on American culture over the past few decades. (That said I hate a lot of 'American Anime', like that junior justice league thing).

The reason this is offensive is the same reason the new Star Wars were offensive. It's just crapping all over people's favorite stories.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 AM on March 25, 2011


It's not so much that Japanese people are appropriating Western culture as they have no choice but to have it shoved in their faces every single day, whether they like it or not.

I don't think this is a knowledgeable assessment of Japan or its culture.

Also, it's nice that you're not offended, but as someone from the dominant culture, someone who benefits from the privilege you have of not being aware of being from the dominating culture, you're not in a credible position to speak about what's offensive and to whom.

Again, it is not a privilege to be white or Western in Japan. The fact that there's a lot of people in business suits and a Western-style Parliament does not change this. Privilege exists when you're a part of a majority or a dominant minority--it's an equality issue--but Westerners are not dominant there in any sense. A white Westerner is in all likelihood a visible minority immigrant with all the drawbacks including prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, scapegoating, and significant barriers to advancement or even finding housing.

When white people take a Japanese movie filled with Japanese characters and change the setting to America, yet keep all of the Japanese characters and then change their race so they're white? That is the essence of white privilege, and it's racist. There are plenty of Asian and Asian-American actors who could fill those roles....Or maybe if it was so necessary to remake this movie, it could have been completely remade with a new title, American characters and it should only be reusing the plot in a more general way.


I don't like what they've done either. It sounds like a really poor choice for a re-make, and the re-setting in an imagined Japanese neighbourhood in the US sounds contrived and hand-wavey. As anigbrowl hinted at upthread, the fact they've re-set it outside of Japan pretty much means it's not really going to be Akira at all. It's going to be a sci-fi dystopia flick starring white Americans and it will be called Akira but it's not going to be Akira. They're not Japanese roles in a Japanese picture anymore. They're meaningless roles set in a picture made to capitalize on a brand name that doesn't stay true to the themes or content of its namesake. What Hollywood is going to do to Akira is going to be no different than what it does to any other popular literature, comic book, old TV show, or even famous older movie--it's going to hijack the brand recognition to sell a piece of shit to the people who have fond memories of the original.
posted by Hoopo at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Something I just now realized: Southland Tales is approximately American Akira. Once you get past how silly it is (I think Kelly references anime a lot in the film) it deals with the end of America, and all of the national paranoias and fears involved with it. Plus it's pure sci-fi cheese too.
posted by codacorolla at 9:46 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


This must be stopped or the next thing you know someone will be doing an all-Japanese version of Macbeth or King Lear, or a modern American all singing and dancing version of Romeo and Juliet.

Actually, the East/West playhouse in Los Angeles which is a long running Asian-American playhouse has done many productions like Shakespeare and even some well known musicals like Sweeney Todd with an Asian cast. The reason being that those are parts that Asian-American actors are never ever considered for.
posted by cazoo at 1:05 AM on April 5, 2011


Well, just as long as they don't try to do a live action version of Robotech, I'm fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 AM on March 24 [+] [!]


It could still very well happen.
posted by Thistledown at 11:28 AM on April 5, 2011




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