By Arturo R. García
The racebending of Shotaro Kaneda is a done deal. But thanks to an anonymous friend of The R, we got to see the casting calls for some parts yet to be filled in the American Akira. If you haven’t read the original manga version of the story, there’s spoilers under the cut.
Akira: The casting notes we saw specified the character at the heart of the destruction of Neo-Tokyo Manhattan would stay Japanese in this new production. What’s more, even the applicants “must be Japanese” – a key point, as it turns out. So the film will have at least one Asian actor involved … in a non-speaking role.
The Espers: In the original, these characters were three kids who were part of the same government program that employed Akira and Tetsuo. But the casting call asked for applicants over 50 years old to play Takashi and Kiyoko, and 40-plus male actors with a “fat face” for Masaru. But unlike the Akira call, Takashi and Masaru are open to “any ethnicity,” while only Caucasian females are being sought for Kiyoko.
Now, you might be thinking, the Espers did kind of look like artificially-aged children, so older actors might make sense. Except for this: there’s also a casting call out for younger versions of the characters, calling for actors 7-9 years old. So unless some CGI money has been set aside, we could see twentysomething Kaneda, Tetsuo and Kei opposite a group of Espers that’s three decades older.
Clown: The casting call lists a character called “Treadface,” most likely a substitute for the leader of the gang fighting Kaneda and Tetsuo’s bunch over neighborhood turf. And wouldn’t you know it, this part is up for grabs for a “Black or Hispanic male age 25-40.” Oh, sure, here they keep things accurate?
Finally, back to Kaneda. Sort of: it turns out there’s a listing for “Young Jack,” described as a “9 yr. old version of our Lead: very attractive Caucasian male with dirty-blonde hair.” So it’s still possible we’ll be spared the inadvertent comedy of Garrett Hedlund answering to the name “Kaneda.” So, uh, yay?