Every-now-and-then, I have the misfortune of striking gold by complete accident. Take last week, when, while writing up this list, I discovered the following article from November of last year. Remember that adaptation of Akira Hollywood's been unsuccessfully trying finish? Well, Taika Waititi wants a kick at the can too. But he's not content with a simple remake of the 1988 classic, either:
"'I don't believe the world needs a remake of the anime…I would really just want to look at an adaptation of the books in a new way…'"
To be perfectly honest, I'm torn on Waititi directing this film. This is, of course, assuming he still wants to. (This article's from November 4th, after all!) On one hand, it's a perfect fit: not only is he half-Aborigine, hence a completely unique perspective, but he's an incredibly talented director. Additionally, he's capable of handling an ambitious project that no one was ready to take seriously, as evidenced by Thor: Ragnarok. If anyone can tackle Akira's sensitive commentary on social elitism and classism better than Guillermo Del Toro, it's him.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure that this'll work. Ignoring that my initial pick for directing this film, Jordan Peele, left the project last year, Akira's not easy to make into a movie. For one, it's a dense Manga that even Katsuhiro Ôtomo couldn't fully-adapt in 1988. And two, this movie's been in production Hell for almost a decade. The last anime-to-live-action adaptation with this long a gestation period was Ghost in the Shell, and, well…we know how that turned out, don't we?

It's not like I wouldn't be game for a live-action adaptation of Ôtomo's book. Keep in mind that the original film, which depicted a post-Apocalyptic Tokyo, came out 30 years ago. It was also a 125-minute film based on a then-incomplete text. Ignoring the potential for a fully-realized story now, akin to the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind film trilogy I so desperately crave, the state of racial and class relations in the world has changed drastically. Globalization has allowed for a racial hierarchy to develop, with white people being at the top of the societal food chain. Factor in the scary re-emergence of right-wing authoritarianism since the 2000's, the clash it's had with left-wing social justice movements and the constantly growing anxiety of police states in the West, and…yeah, now would seem like a great time for a film like this, wouldn't it?

Unfortunately, even if it did get made, there's always a chance of this being bungled too. Hollywood doesn't understand anime. It's few attempts at trying to have come off as either half-baked, vapid, or half-baked and vapid simultaneously. It's a vicious, self-cannibalistic, never-ending cycle that keeps reminding the masses how out-of-touch Hollywood executives are with what's trendy or socially relevant. Call me a Doubting Thomas, but I can only stomach so much of the "How do you do, fellow kids?" mentality before I'm ready to puke.

Besides, there's also the issue of getting Ôtomo on-board as a creative consultant for authenticity sake. And let's not forget, Ôtomo's faded from relevancy since the fiasco that was Steamboy in 2004. He's done some minor work since then, such as a short segment in Short Piece that he wrote and directed, but nothing's been on-par with the work he did in his prime. In the off-chance that he was used as a consultant, how much of his input would really matter? Would it be used at all? And would he remember the intent of something he finished creating in 1990?

These are all concerns that'd make me uneasy about a Hollywood adaptation of Akira under Taika Waititi's direction, even if he were to go to the well that was the Manga. Hollywood's been sitting on this project for years. It's seen screenwriters and directors come and go due to creative differences. It's seen casting suggestions change based on the hot-button stars of the time moving onto other, more ambitious projects. (Believe it or not, there was even a time when Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the lead role.) And it's been stalled, reworked, stalled again, reworked again and stalled further, and all in the hopes of salvaging something. There's cashing in on a property that everyone loves, and then there's desperation. With the way the production has unfolded, this movie screams of the latter.

I'd love for a socially-relevant, modern-day spin on Akira. But I'd also love for a lot of projects to get the modern-day, socially-relevant treatment, and I'd love for them to be done right. But it's not always means to be. So while a Taika Waititi-directed Akira would be a cool idea, especially given his mixed heritage and cultural background, in the end I doubt that it'd work. Which is upsetting, but not entirely unsurprising given the state of Hollywood and its inner-workings. I could be wrong about this, and end up changing my tune should something actually come to light, but I highly-doubt it!

If all else fails, at least we'll have another punching bag for when we talk about why Hollywood doesn't get anime. Those are always fun.


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