The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Warner Bros. is once again attempting to produce a live-action remake of seminal Japanese manga and film Akira, this time with Marco J. Ramirez in charge of the script.
While Ramirez has proven his ability to translate comics onto screen in Marvel’s Daredevil, I nonetheless cannot help but regard this news with dour suspicion. Hollywood has been trying to appropriate Akira since the 1990s and has failed to produce a film each time, which is something we should all be thankful for because every attempt has been based in unconscionable whitewashing and cultural appropriation. The only actor of Asian descent who has ever been attached to any of these plans is Ken Watanabe, and he was (of course) cast as a secondary character. The leads have always been given to white actors, and the setting moved from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-New York, completely abandoning the context of a manga and film that heavily relied on metaphor for nuclear devastation from the viewpoint of a people who have actually had to endure said devastation. That isn’t just culturally insensitive; it’s insulting.
It is possible that this new attempt will take advantage of the numerous talented Japanese actors who are woefully underutilized in American films and not repeat the mistakes of the 2012 attempt (which had cast Kristen Stewart as female lead Kei), but considering that Scarlett Johansson was recently announced as Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell adaptation, my faith is not strong at this point in time.