Advice From a Fanboy: Akira

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All good advice, except maybe the last point- I tend to be optimistic to the point of foolishness about these projects, and take a "might as well try it just in case we get a masterpiece" attitude.

I particularly like the suggestion of using black or latino actors. My problem with the "white-washing" doesn't stem from the fact that the characters probably won't be Japanese- it's not set in Japan, there's no reason they have to be- it stems from the fact that in many people's mind, American = white.

No, really. When the controversy over this started I saw entire comment threads filled with posts like "Well it's set in America, obviously the characters are going to be white". The complete lack of awareness on display was stunning.

To be honest Akira never rated that highly for me, My first contact with Anime came with Cowboy Beebop and Princess Mononoke respectively and i don't think i could have done much better ( i still maintain two of the pinacles of anime achivement). Akira is a bit too dense without being as high-minded and moody as say "Ghost in the Shell" (the original, not 2.0 with its shitty CGI and iffy dub) or as emaculate and fancyfull as the work of Miyazaki or as strnagely gripping as something even as flawed as Deathnote.

Admittedly its ideas were pretty interesting, animation with actual lofty ideas was also something pretty novel to western audiences, but like i said subisquent ainime have done better on almost every front (Ghosts in the Shell being a film where the ideas are front and centre, even with a copy of the collected works of Phillip K. Dick in one hand)

I was with you until you say Akira's name should be Adam, so that it doesn't bring any exotic or special connotation.

Really? Adam? THAT is the name that came to your head when you thought "nondescript"? I mean, the name Adam is the most ham-fisted attempt writers have to say "this character is important" than any other, ever. Jesus, Budha and others could count, if it wasn't for the fact no writer is dumb enough to think they can get away with naming a character such, so they go with Adam.

I'm just baffled. There are literally hundreds of other ordinary names with absolutely no special meanings, and you had to pick Adam. Though it probably will be hilarious if people go on crying for Dave, their savior.

You realize Bob that fanboys are the last people you want to take advice from. Two groups you never want to take advice from when planning an adaption of something, doesn't matter what it is, two groups never to take advice from: fanboys/girls and haters.

SandroTheMaster:
I was with you until you say Akira's name should be Adam, so that it doesn't bring any exotic or special connotation.

Really? Adam? THAT is the name that came to your head when you thought "nondescript"? I mean, the name Adam is the most ham-fisted attempt writers have to say "this character is important" than any other, ever. Jesus, Budha and others could count, if it wasn't for the fact no writer is dumb enough to think they can get away with naming a character such, so they go with Adam.

I'm just baffled. There are literally hundreds of other ordinary names with absolutely no special meanings, and you had to pick Adam. Though it probably will be hilarious if people go on crying for Dave, their savior.

He was just giving that as an example, geez. Probably because it started with an A so it still has an alliterative tie to the original name. You could've gone with John too for something even more normal.

Now that I think about it it'd be really weird to go see a movie called "John," or "Carl" or something. Can you imagine talking about that with your friends: "Hey, did you see 'Carl,' yet? I heard it was really good!" But I guess that's the effect that's intended?

I can't possibly imagine how this could not become a complete disaster, even if they took your every suggestion to heart. The Akira anime is something like 20 manga condensed into a 2-hour movie. That in itself is harsh enough to the story, but if you changed the setting (as mentioned earlier, Akira is rooted in Japanese mentality, history and culture) I don't think you'd be left with anything but a mediocre sci-fi flick that most people wouldn't even understand, because it's been diluted too much.

American Akira? I think I've seen that already.

Old YouTube vid, I know, but it addresses the kind of stuff that keeps happening in remakes, or what people are afraid is going to happen in remakes.

Also, it's not necessarily a bad thing to consult hardcore fans. Like any other sources of input, they are to be used wisely. Movies like the Lord Of the Rings trilogy wouldn't have turned out as well if Weta didn't consult the hardcore fans, or hire them as part of the crew. The Tolkien constructed language experts, the armorers, the artists, and so on are all very invested in the work for those films and the two-part The Hobbit still in production, and their expertise and enthusiasm greatly affect outcome of the final films.

Often, people stick "listening to fans" with "fan pandering" as part of the same "this is why hardcore fans don't help film adaptations" argument. Fan pandering often fills in the bits of bad film adaptations where the production team just wanted to get people to watch without actually doing the more difficult and time-consuming work of making sure the film was engaging on its own.

Case in point: I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with my family, but I was the only one who had not only read all of the Narnia books, but read them over and over again growing up. We all liked the movie for different reasons, but I was the only one to notice that the Professor's tobacco case on his desk was shaped like a silver apple. No pandering, just a small sign that said, "Yes, we did our research." When the nods to the fans get bigger than that, the other audience members are left wondering, "Why is this important?", just like they were on the car ride home when I was asking if "anyoneelsenoticedthesilverappleandwasn'tthatAWESOME" to be met by only confused looks.

Another example: I also saw Captain America: The First Avenger. MovieBob and I both liked the film, but being the far bigger fan, he noticed more things than I did.

Like MovieBob said, in the off, off chance that somebody in the movie business is actually looking at all this, I'd just like to say, "Yes, consult the fans, but don't consider their words sacrosanct. Make the movie good and reserve the hardcore fan stuff for garnish only."

"You're gonna piss away close to $100 million making a movie "

Actually, current estimates are around 140 million, I believe?

At least it's not going to have Keanu Reeves starring in it anymore.

Wait, wait. Don't Americanize it, but don't call it Akira? What? And that bit about colonialism is just silly. I don't raise a fit over Turkish Superman or whatever, going all, "Yargh, the Turks are trying to colonize us with MOVIES!"

Also, you think that the presence of minority characters would mean that the movie's racist? What? Well, what if they didn't have them in there? Triple racism, no doubt.

Bob, I believe you when you say you aren't looking forward to the movie, but I think maybe it's for the wrong reasons.

#1, aside from the sacrifices the anime script had to make cramming all six volumes of the Akira manga into a 2hr+ movie, the anime is an absolute masterpiece of cell animation. Nothing the hacked story does can take away from that. It may have been many people's first exposure to anime, but I think that if it wasn't as good, visually, as it is, a lot less people would have sought out more anime. If the first thing people saw was something stupid like any of the millions or terrible animated movies or tv shows that come out of Japan, those people may have formed a different opinion of anime. That many of us saw Akira first and were blown away by the calibre of animation speaks volumes.

#2, if I agree with anything, and I agree with most of your points, I definitely think that calling it something other than Akira is the best way to go. It doesn't make any sense to set the movie in America with American actors and then call it Akira. Basicall, I think if Hollywood wants to see this movie be anything other than a disaster reviled by Akira fans, it'll have to be only based upon Akira, as you suggest.

RDubayoo:
Wait, wait. Don't Americanize it, but don't call it Akira? What? And that bit about colonialism is just silly. I don't raise a fit over Turkish Superman or whatever, going all, "Yargh, the Turks are trying to colonize us with MOVIES!"

Also, you think that the presence of minority characters would mean that the movie's racist? What? Well, what if they didn't have them in there? Triple racism, no doubt.

Bob, I believe you when you say you aren't looking forward to the movie, but I think maybe it's for the wrong reasons.

I think you basically misread everything that Bob wrote.

Gatx:

He was just giving that as an example, geez. Probably because it started with an A so it still has an alliterative tie to the original name. You could've gone with John too for something even more normal.

Now that I think about it it'd be really weird to go see a movie called "John," or "Carl" or something. Can you imagine talking about that with your friends: "Hey, did you see 'Carl,' yet? I heard it was really good!" But I guess that's the effect that's intended?

Except that Adam is, literally, the english name with the most blatant religious connotation he could've possibly picked. I mean, he was literally just trying to set an example on a nondescript english name, but no-one names someone (be it a writer or a parent) Adam without some painfully obvious religious motif. Then again, so does John, but at least you don't see John being used all the time with this purpose. It is just baffling. Literally, he could pick any other english name and there would be absolutely no problem.

Also, I completely disagree that the name Akira has no special reason to be there. No Japanese work (be it film, manga, anime, poetry or literature) has ever got a name without significance, and Akira is no exception. Yes, it is a popular name, but it also stands for "bright"/"intelligent". Or "clear" as in "pure". So, really, in Japanese, this is a very appropriate name for a messiah.

In one final consideration... isn't there a shit-ton of movies where the title is a name? Even some pretty run-of-the-mill ones. Like "Paul".

And I'd surely watch a movie called "Dave" (which, now that I think about, also has religious connotations, but at least this one is subtle, since it is a variation).

conflictofinterests:
Joe? Pretty sure there were no prophets or important figures, religious or otherwise, called Joe.

You sure about that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Joseph

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_%28son_of_Jacob%29

Atomic Skull:

conflictofinterests:
Joe? Pretty sure there were no prophets or important figures, religious or otherwise, called Joe.

You sure about that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Joseph

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_%28son_of_Jacob%29

conflictofinterests:
*snip* Banal is Joe or Bob. They're names with no real meaning behind them, and maybe they're shortenings of names that had meaning, but in chopping them up they've lost it. *snip* Joe? Pretty sure there were no prophets or important figures, religious or otherwise, called Joe. *Snip*

I did qualify myself.
Joseph? Impressive. Joe? Plumber.

The movie AKIRA is the reason why I'll never complain about Dune or Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World being not close enough to the books again.

If you knew the effort that went into AKIRA, which was both endorsed and directed by the mangaka who made the books mind you, something not even Zach Snyder's Watchmen can claim to it since Alan Moore hates movies based on his work, you'd never complain about something like Dune or Scott Pilgrim being crammed into one movie ever again, especially if you saw the movie first.

Peeps gotta recognise that movies and books are different, and unless you've got lightning in a bottle such as Fight Club, which wasn't exactly a lengthy book to adapt to begin with, you have to acknowledge that if they're cramming six books into one movie it's gonna get a little abridged. HBO is probably the safest bet for adaptations of lengthy book series, but as for movies I loved AKIRA from the first viewing, it was my anime nerd equivalent of how rappers used to watch Scarface over and over again.

Sure AKIRA's not a perfect adaptation of the books, but as a movie it certainly does its job, and if you watch it enough times you realise why the plot they chose to keep in there is there and why it works.

The same could be said about Ralph Bakshi's LOTR versus Peter Jackson's LOTR, but I'm not as big a Middle Earther as I should be at my age.

Sorry, accidental double post because it didn't appear/Captcha.

You pretty much just outlined what not to do.

No offence Bob, but this isn't your happy place. Just stay out of it.

Don't Call It Akira

And lose the actual fans right off the bat? The name provides the link to the source material. And it's a name that sounds exotic enough to be interesting to those who don't know about it. 'Adam' isn't going to have the same impact. And the western audience that liked Akira are probably well aware of the juxtaposition between the name and the outlandish events. It's not exactly a secret.

Whitewash? No. "Brownwash"? Hmmm ...

How about we just cast characters that fit the role ay? Instead of intentionally going out and looking for actors to fill the "I'm not racist, see, I watch films with Mexicans in" quota. We just cast actors that fit the fucking roles.

And why are you relating the story to existing American culture? Just set it in a non-descript futuristic metropolis. You're going to completely alienate the existing fanbase by making it American centric. And Americans don't need a sci-fi film to be set in neon-fucking-newyork to enjoy it. The best sci-fi films don't really spend much time focussing on the country they're set in. And it's not really relevant to the damn story. Commercialism, military law and general discontent and a feeling of bleakness and hopelessness is what's central to the plot. Not fucking patriotism.

Don't O.D. on Iconography

So again, ignore the source material? There's nothing wrong with adaptation. But completely ignoring themes central to the plot is stupid.

And if you pay attention, the striking red jacket and iconic bike aren't that outlandish when compared to the rest of the world. Yes, it's iconic and noticeable. But one of the damn street gangs dress like fucking clowns. There's a lot of pomp in the disenfranchised youths clothing and apparel. That's the whole feckin point.

Go for an "R"

No shit Sherlock.

Just Don't Do It

The film could be successful without selling out and pandering to what you seem to think of as the 'average' viewer. Whilst at the same time not being to far entrenched in eastern mythos and tradition.

You don't have to know about or enjoy anime or Japanese popculture to appreciate the story at the core of Akira.

Just don't make the film focus on existing nationality and culture. Non-descript futuristic cities that are neither here nor there geographically are a staple of good sci-fi. Just stick to the themes presented in the story. They're not limited to borders on a map.

And this is coming from someone who doesn't faun over Akira. I enjoyed the film and absolutely love it's animation quality. But I wouldn't call it one of my favourites.

Ooh, I just figured out how to fix it.

No American remake. Nope. Have an AUSTRALIAN REMAKE instead.

Geographical location much closer to Asia? Check. Influx of Japanese population post-Earthquake? Check.

Hundreds of great Asian-Australian Asian people to pick the cast from, even if some of the cast is white? Check.

ABC's Lawrence Leung as Kaneda's buddy Kai in AC/DC schoolboy wear like in the original anime movie. CROSS-CULTURAL REFERENCES THAT WORK! YES! I SEE IT NOW!

Get me Hollywood on the phone. I wish to discuss tax-deductible film locations with them our government will fund.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Good points Bob, but I disagree with you on one key point.

You say that there is nothing fundamental to the story that couldn't be transplanted to another setting if done properly. I personally don't think so. For me, part of what makes the film so unique is that the story is entire focused on the idea of Japanese identity.

Look at the opening scene: gets wiped out in mere seconds by a huge explosion. That right there should remind you of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Those two bombing are events that, if you'll pardon the wording, are seared into the Japanese cultural psyche. Being the only country to have ever been nuked during a war, you can be damn sure it's an event that weighs heavy in their culture. Indeed, the crux of Akira's plot focuses on the government trying (and failing) to control a weapon so powerful it can level entire cities in an instant. The symbolism and imagery used in Akira is supposed to bring associations with nuclear weaponry, and Japan is arguably the only country in the world were this sort of thing would make sense.

Not only that, but Japanese society itself plays a key role in the story. Part of the conflict in the film comes from the divide between the strict, structured Japanese culture of the past, and the chaotic mess that the country has fallen into. The General himself is on a crusade to restore Japan back to its values and traditions. Looked at very simply, it's an obvious example of East vs West (in this case, liberalism against traditionalism), but there's more to it than that. Traditional Japanese society is far, far stricter than we are used to in the West, and based on a large number of customs, rituals and traditions. Akira is in many ways an examination of how all those rules, rituals and traditions lose their relevance and are cast aside when society has had to recover from a devastating attack. In short, Akira is a reflection (in many ways) of post-WWII Japan. The dystopian, lawless society presented in the film isn't just a simple Clockwork Orange pastiche, it's a representation of how the Japanese people were almost forced to challenge their own ideas and beliefs about Japan after so humbling and complete a defeat.

In short, it's a Japanese film about Japan. As such, you simply can't transplant the story to somewhere else and hope for it to have anywhere near the same effect.

Also, as has been mentioned above, Akira is one of the unquestioned landmarks of animation. Purely as a technical achievement, the film broke new ground, and still stands as one of the most impressive feats of animation ever. Such landmarks are best left alone.

Pretty much a thread ender right here.

Worgen:
I think the reason that akira tends to get allot of love isnt because it was the first cartoon allot of people saw that was mature as much as it was one of the most visually striking and well animated cartoons around, I mean it makes some of the best disney movies look boring by contrast. Having a mature story and violence is just the icing on the cake.

It really depends on how old you are, for individuals like me and Bob who grew up mostly in the early 90s films like Vampire Hunter D, Akira, and Ninja Scroll were some of the first animes to hit mainstream television prior to that you had to actually rent or buy anime to see it. Some animes like Asto Boy, and Speed Racer had made it to the states but as Bob stated animes like Akira were geared more towards adults with violence, nudity etc and came a few years before DBZ Pokemon and Gundam could take a foothold in America.
The art style and plot of the movie are very detailed and is what makes it a classic; however I feel its these things in addition to when it debuted in America, are what make it a classic.

Edit: Also not to be pretentious but allot is spelled a lot. As in I make a lot of mistakes myself and if it wasn't for typing a crap load of papers in college I'd probably make even more than I do now.

MovieBob:
For example, whoever gets cast as Kaneda (or whatever he'll be called,) the temptation is going to be to get him into the red leather capsule-logo jacket and onto a live-action facsimile of his big chunky motorcycle for a fan-reassuring teaser poster at ComiCon.

If you're not going to recreate the entire visually-cohesive world of the original (which would be incredibly expensive), only recreating one or two distinct elements is just going to make them stick out more and look silly. The sort of fans who'd otherwise get really, really psyched to see an actor in expensively-fabricated Akira cosplay are already pissed at you for making this movie to begin with;

Wow, when you said you'd still be talking about how much you hate Green Lantern, you were right.

Zom-B:

RDubayoo:
Wait, wait. Don't Americanize it, but don't call it Akira? What? And that bit about colonialism is just silly. I don't raise a fit over Turkish Superman or whatever, going all, "Yargh, the Turks are trying to colonize us with MOVIES!"

Also, you think that the presence of minority characters would mean that the movie's racist? What? Well, what if they didn't have them in there? Triple racism, no doubt.

Bob, I believe you when you say you aren't looking forward to the movie, but I think maybe it's for the wrong reasons.

I think you basically misread everything that Bob wrote.

I'd love to hear what the correct interpretation is.

RDubayoo:

Zom-B:

RDubayoo:
Wait, wait. Don't Americanize it, but don't call it Akira? What? And that bit about colonialism is just silly. I don't raise a fit over Turkish Superman or whatever, going all, "Yargh, the Turks are trying to colonize us with MOVIES!"

Also, you think that the presence of minority characters would mean that the movie's racist? What? Well, what if they didn't have them in there? Triple racism, no doubt.

Bob, I believe you when you say you aren't looking forward to the movie, but I think maybe it's for the wrong reasons.

I think you basically misread everything that Bob wrote.

I'd love to hear what the correct interpretation is.

I'll go through in order of your comments:

1. What Bob is saying is that if the movie is going to be americanized and whitewashed it might as well get an American name too. There's no point in changing the setting and the nationality of the characters but retaining the Japanese name. It's not "don't americanize it, but don't call it Akira", it's "if you must americanize it, don't call it Akira".

1. a. Turkish Superman, Indian Spiderman... these are just culturally accessible homages, rip-offs and remakes from tiny, regional film industries. The Turks did not colonize much of an entire continent the way America did, displacing indigenous peoples. When America takes a story from another culture and "whitewashes" it, it smacks of the predominant western attitude of taking whatever it wants and does a real disservice and shows a lot of disrespect to other cultures. I'll admit that this is a debatable point, but Hollywood has a long history of gutting cultural content in the pursuit of dollars, and they do it in a huge way. The Turkish movie studio making a Superman movie by comparison is a gnat on the ass of an elephant.

2. I don't know how you got racism out of his comments about casting.

"...the cold hard truth of the matter is that in the U.S. - where this remake is aiming to be set - the real-life kids whose stories mirror those of Akira's main characters are quite a bit more likely to be Black or Latino than they are to be anything else. This is depressing as hell and a shameful indictment of everything from ingrained systemic racism to societal failures in real life, but it does offer a way that an American Akira could be more than just another cash-grab remake - a way that it could actually say something substantial and meaningful about American culture the way the original Akira did for Japanese culture."

Do you see how Bob is saying that not only would it make much sense for the characters to be anything other than white, but it would actually make a statement about western culture. I just don't see where you're getting the racism angle from, unless you misread the part about system racism and societal failure in American culture.

This is my reaction to the Akira ending.

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