Lightcycle To Nowhere: Akira Remake Moving Ahead With New Casting Calls

By Arturo R. García

In Akira, a corrupt government courted disaster with little regard for leaving well enough alone, only to be undone by its’ avarice. At least it looks like Warner Brothers’ adaptation is getting that right.

As reported by Racebending and other outlets late last week, WB is officially moving ahead with a live-action adaptation of the classic manga series.

At this point, though, you would think the company should have noticed the law of Diminishing Returns kicking in with this production. The project has been scorned by fans of the original manga since it was originally announced three years ago, and that vitriol hasn’t stopped – especially after word got out that this new Akira would be Americanized/whitewashed, and moved to the New York area.

As of last week’s reports, Garrett Hedlund was being mentioned as the front-runner to play reluctant hero Kaneda. You might remember Hedlund failing to light up the screen with charisma last year in Tron: Legacy, alongside Jeff Bridges and, in this clip, Olivia Wilde as Quorra, the Manic Pixelated Dream Girl.

Granted, Hedlund and Wilde were hamstrung by a cowardly “feel-good” script that bungled what should have been a slam-dunk piece of sci-fi. But maybe Hedlund’s biggest advantage is a willingness to work cheap. The project’s budget was originally rumored to be in the $300 million range, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, when shooting begins early next year, new director Jaume Collet-Serra will have a comparatively meager $90 million available to somehow make his take on Akira not suck.

Casting calls have also gone up online for two other characters: Tetsuo and Ky (known as Kai in the previous versions of the story). Here’s how they were described:

  • Tetsuo: Male; any ethnicity, 20-25 years old; strung out, intense, street rat. (LEAD)
  • Ky: Female; 20-30 years old; any ethnicity; tough, sexy, strong willed, street savvy. (LEAD)

The “any ethnicity” clause for both characters is worth noting; it’s possible WB would try to mollify some of the PR damage associated with this project by casting POCs in these roles (while making sure that Ky/Kai is still “sexy,” of course). Or we could end up seeing someone like Misfits’ Robert Sheehan playing Tetsuo with some sort of “New Yawk accent.”

  • Pingback: Neo-Manhattan Melodrama: How The American Akira Could Be Worse Than We Imagined | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  • KjenNu

    With ‘open casting’ I think people of color will be chosen for some of the roles. However, I think it will be interesting to see which roles are deemed fit for. More than likely the side kick, bad guy, authority figure, etc. I still believe white actors will be chosen for the hero, the girlfriend. I can really seem them choosing a white guy for Canada and an Asian guy for Tetsuo.
    Grey’s Anatomy exhibited this best about the limits of open casting to me. I can’t decide if it’s because open casting is a total fraud or the casting directors have their own limited views of people of color.

  • Anonymous

    won’t be watching this at all

  • Nele Noppe

    *headdesk to infinity* Thank you for keeping up with this. I’d been hoping it was dead.

    Tiny correction to prevent possible confusion: the female character they renamed as Ky was called Kei in the manga, not Kai. There’s also someone called Kai in the story, but he’s a completely different minor character.
    In addition to the race issues, I’m seriously peeved at the “sexy” they added in there. There is just no need for that. Kei was a smart and capable action heroine in the manga, and her looks were remarkable only because they were not played up at all.  Sensible rugged clothes, sensible hair, no make-up, no random sexy poses or emphasizing of her anatomy. Hearing “sexy” mentioned as one of the character’s defining traits is just… no.

  • Nele Noppe

    *headdesk to infinity* Thank you for keeping up with this. I’d been hoping it was dead.

    Tiny correction to prevent possible confusion: the female character they renamed as Ky was called Kei in the manga, not Kai. There’s also someone called Kai in the story, but he’s a completely different minor character.
    In addition to the race issues, I’m seriously peeved at the “sexy” they added in there. There is just no need for that. Kei was a smart and capable action heroine in the manga, and her looks were remarkable only because they were not played up at all.  Sensible rugged clothes, sensible hair, no make-up, no random sexy poses or emphasizing of her anatomy. Hearing “sexy” mentioned as one of the character’s defining traits is just… no.

  • http://twitter.com/cherry_LA Cherry Davis

    Ahhh any ethnicity means WHITE so I won’t be giving them my money when it comes out!! America’s demographic is changing and until the Hollywood ‘Powers that Be’ acknowledge I’m going to boycott their movies/tv shows!!!

  • http://twitter.com/cherry_LA Cherry Davis

    Ahhh any ethnicity means WHITE so I won’t be giving them my money when it comes out!! America’s demographic is changing and until the Hollywood ‘Powers that Be’ acknowledge I’m going to boycott their movies/tv shows!!!

  • Violette

    Not just the whitewashing; also the fact that it will invariably suck. 
    FFS can’t Hollywood just leave these things alone and employ emerging talented writers and directors to create groundbreaking new material that challenges as well as entertains? Must everything be remade, rebooted, given sequels and prequels and sequels to prequels until we’re stuck in some endless cycle of meta-media nihilism??!

    Actually don’t answer that question, I think I already know. 

  • Violette

    Not just the whitewashing; also the fact that it will invariably suck. 
    FFS can’t Hollywood just leave these things alone and employ emerging talented writers and directors to create groundbreaking new material that challenges as well as entertains? Must everything be remade, rebooted, given sequels and prequels and sequels to prequels until we’re stuck in some endless cycle of meta-media nihilism??!

    Actually don’t answer that question, I think I already know. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Javan-Nelums/696759111 Javan Nelums

    This is the reason why people should do Occupy Hollywood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1496243084 Kiyra B. Holt

    Another shit movie coming soon near you.

  • Kaydee-P

    Already discouraged, can’t figure out how to access the casting on the linked site. Go, Hollywood!

  • Anonymous

    Not fooled. The casting call should say “Asian”. Tetsuo is Asian. The character will probably end up being white. This is just a way for the casting directors to cover their behind when they pick a white person.

  • Anonymous

    Not fooled. The casting call should say “Asian”. Tetsuo is Asian. The character will probably end up being white. This is just a way for the casting directors to cover their behind when they pick a white person.

  • Anonymous

    Not fooled. The casting call should say “Asian”. Tetsuo is Asian. The character will probably end up being white. This is just a way for the casting directors to cover their behind when they pick a white person.

  • Zcarmodder

    At least its better than “white or other ethnicity”

  • Zcarmodder

    At least its better than “white or other ethnicity”

  • Ejnc21

    these hollywood bastards are gonna ruin a classic

  • Ada

    Whhhyyyyyyyy-hhhhyyyyy-hhhyyyyyyyyyy!!!
    They’re going to select white people and the movie is going to suck. Why does everything have to get whitewashed and moved to the goddamn states?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ankhesenmie Ankhesen Mié

      Exactly.  “Any ethnicity” + “lead” = white.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ankhesenmie Ankhesen Mié

      Exactly.  “Any ethnicity” + “lead” = white.

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    Well, hopefully they will cast black and/or Asian actors in those leading roles… but I’m not counting on it to happen.

    just a random thought – how common is it for non-Japanese people to have Japanese names? Tetsuo is a Japanese name. So, wouldn’t the audience find it weird for a non-Japanese (or rather, non-Asian) actor to play a character named Tetsuo?

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    Well, hopefully they will cast black and/or Asian actors in those leading roles… but I’m not counting on it to happen.

    just a random thought – how common is it for non-Japanese people to have Japanese names? Tetsuo is a Japanese name. So, wouldn’t the audience find it weird for a non-Japanese (or rather, non-Asian) actor to play a character named Tetsuo?

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    Well, hopefully they will cast black and/or Asian actors in those leading roles… but I’m not counting on it to happen.

    just a random thought – how common is it for non-Japanese people to have Japanese names? Tetsuo is a Japanese name. So, wouldn’t the audience find it weird for a non-Japanese (or rather, non-Asian) actor to play a character named Tetsuo?

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    Well, hopefully they will cast black and/or Asian actors in those leading roles… but I’m not counting on it to happen.

    just a random thought – how common is it for non-Japanese people to have Japanese names? Tetsuo is a Japanese name. So, wouldn’t the audience find it weird for a non-Japanese (or rather, non-Asian) actor to play a character named Tetsuo?

  • http://www.facebook.com/galiotica Nejasna ちゃん

     Why would a clearly Japanese character get an “any ethnicity” casting, when all clearly white(or just mixed with white) characters get a white only? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/galiotica Nejasna ちゃん

     Why would a clearly Japanese character get an “any ethnicity” casting, when all clearly white(or just mixed with white) characters get a white only?