Warner Bros. has just slotted Akira, directed by Taika Waititi, for release in the US on 21 May 2021. That sentence sounds like an April Fool’s joke to anyone who’s been following the decade-plus of almost-attempts to bring Katsuhiro Otomo’s iconic 1982 manga-turned-legendary 1988 anime back to the big screen. But, for now, this is the plan.
Rumours linking Waititi to the cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic story began back in 2017, right before the release of his most recent film, Thor: Ragnarok. At that time, we talked to him about the project, and while nothing was set in stone yet, you could tell he was very passionate:
My mum took me to see Akira in the cinema in 1989, or whenever it came out in New Zealand, and it was a huge turning point in my life for what I imagined animation to be and realising what it could be. It’s stuck with me this whole time and I feel, visually, the film was such an amazing thing.
So I read the [comic] books and I was always more curious as to what a broader adaptation of the books might look like instead of a remake of the film, which doesn’t need to be remade. But I do feel there could be a cool live-action adaptation of the books.
If that plan still stands, going back to the original manga and not the 1988 film is certainly a good thing. There’s so much more to mine from there, beyond what made it into the movie.
So, for now, Akira will be released in the US on 21 May 2021. Next up for the busy Waititi, besides casting and filming this project, is the season finale of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows; feature film JoJo Rabbit, out later this year; and an episode of The Mandalorian, which begins to roll out in November.