Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Look at the Live-Action Akira Script

Latino Review got to take a look at the script for the live-action version of one of the most influential anime films of all time, Akira.

Akira is about a secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop.

The live-action version is going to be split into two films, with one of them supposedly coming out in 2009.

"The story takes place in a burgeoning new metropolis of the future, several years after a cataclysmic event destroyed the old city that once stood in its place. Unbeknownst to most of the populace, the real cause of the event was a small boy with incredible psychic powers, part of a top secret government program attempting to harness such so called “Espers” as weapons. The project is deemed too dangerous, and the young boy – AKIRA – is put in cryogenic stasis in a secret underground facility to prevent such a disaster from ever occurring again. In probably the most significant change and the only one that really bugged me, the events of this version are shifted from Tokyo to New York – but after the city is destroyed and the United States’ economy collapses, burgeoning superpower Japan buys the devastated island to construct a new city to house their ever expanding population. So the film will still technically be set in New Tokyo, but on the island of Manhattan, and with about half the characters being American and the rest remaining Japanese. It’s a somewhat odd way of appealing to American audiences and fans alike, and feels somewhat awkward, but does allow for some up to date political commentary.

In the ruins of the surrounding boroughs live KANEDA and TRAVIS, two young men who became good friends after being orphaned by the disaster and have since looked out for each other. They are now part of a biker gang called the Red Devils, which tries to maintain the peace in the lawless, neglected, impoverished outskirts they call home. KANEDA is the cocky leader, like a big brother to restless TRAVIS. Following a run-in with a rival gang and a chance encounter with some people smuggling a strange young boy out of the city, TRAVIS inadvertently unlocks dormant psychic abilities and KANEDA gets involved in a resistance movement attempting to stop the resurrected Espers research program, headed by the military and Vanguard, a Blackwater-esque private military contractor. SHACKLETON, an army colonel who was part of the original experiments, mainly wants to contain these powerful psychics and protect the city, while NELLIS, defense secretary in the pocket of Vanguard, wants to restart the weapons development side of the program.

With the help of his new allies RAY, former Vanguard employee and leader of the resistance, and KAY, one of their former test subjects, Kaneda attempts to rescue Travis, who has been taken into custody by Shackleton and his team. Travis’ new powers are so powerful that they awaken the mind of the sleeping Akira, and Shackleton fears a repeat of the cataclysmic event that destroyed the city so many years before. Travis finds himself inexplicably drawn to Akira, and, his ego and powers spiraling out of control, he escapes from captivity and goes on a rampage of destruction trying to reach the secret facility where Akira is kept. The story becomes a race to stop him – Kaneda, Kay, and Travis’ girlfriend KAORI wanting to bring him back alive and sane, and Shackleton intent on destroying him to prevent another apocalyptic event. True to the epic scope of the original, this is only part one of two planned movies, so the script ends with a huge but intriguing cliffhanger."

The script sounds solid and to me (who loves the anime) is pretty faithful to the original except for minor tweaking to Americanize it (since it originally took place in Japan and there were no American names, like Travis was called Tetsuyo).

"The big, looming unknown that remains now is if the quality of the filmmaking can not only do justice to the words on the page, but ultimately to help justify the whole thing’s existence. The original is known as much if not more so for being a stunning visual feast as it is for its story and themes, so if this project fails in that regard it will probably be a disappointment regardless of how true the script is to the source. And at the same time, I think what I’ve said above applies to currently slated director Ruiri Robinson just as much as it does to the writer; if he just apes the visual style and shots of the original it’ll get points for being faithful but won’t be very exciting or interesting. It’s going to need to look just as good, but at the same time different to really stand apart from the other version, at least in the eyes of this fan."

The anime is known to have been so influential for its stunning visuals which had never been seen before in an animated feature.

Will the Akira movie be faithful for the fans? Will people who have never heard of it be willing to see it?
More news to come! Catch ya' later!

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