Upon the beginning of July 2019, it was announced that, in addition to a 4K release of the original Akira movie from 1988, that Katsuhiro Otomo is helping make a brand new Akira anime. Granted, we have recently started a “Why you SHOULD watch” series of articles, but today’s article takes a different turn about the new Akira in development and as to why this is an amazing opportunity!
To Be Faithful to the Manga
While the original 1988 film still stands the test of time for a variety of reasons, it only covers a tiny fraction of the manga, which we’ve previously covered in our Akira edition to the “Anime vs. Manga” series of articles. Upon the premiere of the movie, the manga wouldn’t end for another year and a half, and Otomo took time off from the manga to help make the movie. With the manga finally over (since June 1990), this new adaptation is an amazing opportunity to tell Otomo’s original story in faithful conjunction with it considering how positively received the manga has been with readers from all over the world.
Taking into account how the times and techniques have changed between now and then, with Otomo’s involvement, there could be cuts or additions to (probably) make it much more fulfilling. The original Akira movie is famous for being cerebral, but with a new anime (whether it would be a TV, net, or an OVA series), there are new opportunities to expand and re-define that quality by introducing other cerebral elements from the manga that weren’t possible for the movie.
Beyond Its Time/Relevant Issues
When it comes to let’s say Ghost in the Shell or the Sega Dreamcast, the phrase “before its time” gets thrown a lot and for reasons that tend to be backed up. The same can apply to the original Akira film and manga series. As it pertains to the source material, it coincidently predicted that the 2020 Olympics would be in Tokyo. In regards to this trait, we thought this would be a good opportunity to make a slight correction from our Anime vs. Manga edition to Akira. In that article, we stated that the manga takes place in 2030 as the movie takes place in 2019. It turns out that this difference is true and false. As to why this is true and false, in the original Japanese version, it takes place in 2019. As for the English version of the manga, it takes place in 2030 for reasons we don’t know why.
Beyond predicting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the original Akira covers themes that are still relevant to the state of Japan to this very day and why it was “before its time” during its initial release. As portrayed in both the movie and original manga, fans can see that it portrays a Japan that is heavily militarized. If you’ve been following the news in Japan, then you’re aware that presently (as of the uploading of this article) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (putting aside the name, it is a right-leaning party) wish to abolish Article 9 of their constitution.
If you don’t know what Article 9 is, it is a stipulation that makes Japan legally not allowed to have a military (the JSDF qualifies as its own article), and prevents them for engaging in any international conflict. Of course, this was implemented after World War II by the Americans. As portrayed in Akira, both the manga and anime are a critique of Japan’s role in World War II, and that militarizing the nation would bring the nation back its former imperial mentality. Naturally, there are numerous Japanese nationals who wish to maintain Article 9 in order to curtail that. Considering that this is now an issue, this theme of Akira helps keep it relevant and would be a great opportunity to enlighten domestic and international viewers in regards to this ongoing debate.
As we highlighted in our “Anime Vs. Manga” edition to Akira, drug abuse (both recreational and medical) is another issue explored in the original Akira manga. With a fully fleshed out series, audiences have another opportunity to see another theme that still relates to this very day with drug abuse. When the manga was in its prime during the 1980s, drug abuse was running rampant in certain parts of the world. Today, drugs that are for medical purposes are progressively becoming a significant issue, especially in the United States as the pharmaceutical lobby progressively gains influence in the government and the medical industry. Some drugs that are allegedly for medical purposes such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Ambien have raised controversy in recent times, and this is highlighted in the manga as our characters are subjected to taking such medications by their school. Even 30 years later, such medications are still a controversy and with a manga inspired adaptation, this would be another amazing opportunity to make an anime relevant for all audiences as it relates to this controversy.
Lastly, we can’t deny that Akira still stands the test of time due to its superb animation. A lot of long-time fans are naturally concerned on whether or not a new anime would live up to that standard. It would probably take Jeff Bezos’ money to make an anime series of that quality! What also defined that anime was its intense soundtrack with its instrumentals. It’s natural to feel that this should also be re-included as well as the voice cast from both the Japanese and English. In both anime and manga form, the people in charge have the ultimate blueprint to make the best anime ever and with a story based on the manga and with a soundtrack, voice cast, and animation quality based on the movie, there are no excuses to not make it happen.