So there's a live action Akira movie in the works. I also hear they're planning to make live-action Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Ghost in the Shell movies, which strikes me as odd because I didn't think anyone cared about the live action Dragonball Z and Speed Racer movies from last year. Regarding the Akira movie itself, unless it's a sequel explaining the original movie's ending, it has no reason to exist. Not that any of these movies do.
Given the Tetsuo cameos that popped up in two recent articles, readers might be wondering what my opinon of Akira was, so I'll say it right now; I liked it more than I should have. I've found myself fascinated with the franchise, and I even went out of my way to get the Kaneda and Tetsuo action figures and have been trying to get Kaneda's bike, but everyone wants a small fortune for it, yet there was nothing about the movie to merit any of this attention. I would charitably describe it as "memorable" and uncharitable as "totally incoherent."
At least five people including myself at Flying Omelette's have seen that movie and none of us could figure out what the hell was going on in the ending, and even before that the movie was barely comprehendable, almost self-parody. I don't think the bit with the counselor bitchslapping the members of Kaneda's bike gang while yelling "DISCIPLINE!" over and over was meant to be as hilarious as it was, and there was this scene where this short guy with rabbit teeth runs down an alley with a suitcase full of money while Kei's man-friend follows him. Rabbit-teeth takes a bunch of pills and keels over dead, then Kei's man-friend continues past him, then also keels over dead. Maybe the manga explains what's going on here and who the hell the rabbit guy even was, but as far as the movie is concerned it didn't have shit to do with shinola. And I only just remembered that scene where Tetsuo fucking flies into outer space and pulls down the Hammer of Dawn... er, SOL satellite laser.
Another thing that seemed kind of off to me was Kaneda was supposed to be the hero, yet he didn't do anything of significance. Heck, you could probably have removed him altogether and the only difference it would have made was the movie would have been a lot shorter, Tetsuo would have killed that general, and the three blue kids wouldn't have had to get themselves stuck in the other dimension for his sake after he let Tetsuo pull his dumb ass in. I also didn't get why Kaneda arbitrarily decided "If somebody's going to kill Tetsuo, IT'S GONNA BE ME!" when the only semi-dickish thing Tetsuo had done to Kaneda at that point was knock him on his ass, and while Tetsuo probably did do it to show Kaneda who's boss, one could argue Kaneda was just too close to the soldiers Tetsuo was aiming for.
Another thing that made the movie hard to follow was many of the characters were drawn very similarly, to the point the only people I could tell apart from everyone else were those three blue kids. But hey, I can keep track of Kaneda because he's wearing a red jacket with a Dr. Mario pill on the back. Well, not anymore, he's in school clothing. Okay, he's wearing it again. Wait, that's Kei wearing his jacket. I left the movie only knowing three characters' names, four if you count Akira even though he was only in the movie for a combined total of one minute. I've since learned two more, Tetsuo's girlfriend (Kaori) and the fat blue kid (Masaru) because I looked them up for the Daniel X article and a Switched at Birth with the Heavily Armed Pokey from Earthbound.
Some people defend it with "You have to have read the manga!" but that's weak. First, the movie needed to stand on its own. Second, right now the manga isn't very easy to get ahold of and isn't especially cheap unless you're willing to settle for beat up books. I know it's being reprinted for the live-action film which may be the only thing of worth to come out of a live-action Akira, but they're taking their sweet time with it. Maybe they're retranslating the monster, or more likely they're trying to time the release of the final volume with the release of the movie, and get the rest of them space relatively evenly apart. The reprinting seems to have brought the prices of the original printings down some, but volume six - the book most likely to tell you WTF was going on in the movie's ending - is still about $50 used.
The root problem with an Akira movie is you're trying to make a 90-to-120-minute movie out of a six-volume manga that was almost three thousand fucking pages long. You could probably beat somebody to death with a single volume. A lot of stuff is going to have to go, and it really can't be the stuff from the beginning. From what I understand, in the manga Akira actually was alive in the containment unit. And that's what the movie was hinting at, only to utterly insult the viewer by revealing it was just Akira's guts in specimen jars in there and raising a ton of questions, like why those scientists and the general would be so concerned about the security on bunch of preserved organs that they actually intended for future generations to find and study themselves.
And a concern I have about a live-action Akira specifically is that Tetsuo's mutation was gross enough animated. I don't know how anybody could bear to watch a realistic CGI version of it.
Incidentally, I read on Wikipedia that Katsuhiro Otomo doesn't accept the endings of the manga or the movie, and wanted Akira to go on forever. That's a mentality I expect from a ten year old. Adults who seriously believe they can keep a story going "forever" are in dire need of a reality check. Even if you can somehow keep the idea well from drying up, you're going to die some day. But then again, we're talking about the guy who actually came up with Akira, which should tell you something about the man's mental state.
On the other hand, while Akira is pretty weak in the story department, it does deliver on spectacle. The hospital nightmare is still one of the most appealingly fucked up things I've ever seen even though I still don't know what the point was, but keep in mind the moment I realized I was in love with Condemned was when the mannequins started teleporting around. Whether you're watching a motorcycle punk crash through the window of a fine restaurant or a kid with Vegeta's haircut turn into a giant vaguely fetus-shaped pile of organs, or for those with special tastes a schoolgirl get her shirt ripped off, there are a lot of memorable moments and its impact on anime since, for better or worse, can't be denied. Although that probably includes hentai involving the tentacle arm that I don't want to know about.