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You're still doing it wrong!

Akira Greetings all, Uncle John here. Lately there has been a lot of news about the much-rumored live action adaptation of Akira. Not only has it been greenlit, but Jaume Collett-Sera (ironically, best known for Unknown) has been chosen to direct the project, Garrett Hedlund is the top contender to play Kaneda and the roles of The Colonel and Lady Miyako have been offered to Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham-Carter. On the face of it, this is good news. Oldman and Bonham-Carter are both great actors and, while his performance is Tron Legacy was passable at best, it did show that Hedlund can pull off the slightly emo bullheadedness that Kaneda requires. Unfortunately, there is still one significant (and blindingly conspicuous) problem.

Judging from the casting choices that we know so far, I'm assuming that it's still going to be set in Neo-New York ... instead of Neo Tokyo. Admittedly, from a fanboy persective, I don't like this because I want it to be as close to the original as possible, but the change in setting also creates a couple of other issues. First of course, is the obvious and persistent whitewashing issue (Last Airbender anyone?). Moving the setting from Japan to the US and casting presumably more bankable Caucasian stars takes some very high profile roles away from Asian American actors.

The other issue that I have with this change is that it strips the story of some of it's most poignant subtext. A lot of anime (Akira includedd) deals with the potential threat of science and technology and I've always interpreted this as a reflection of the fact that Japan is the only country to have atomic bombs dropped on it as a government sanctioned act of war. The story of Akira (particularly when it comes to Neo Tokyo) and it's bleak mood, when viewed in the context of this aspect of Japan's history, has a haunting 'we should have learned by now' feeling that will be completely lost by changing the setting to the US and the result is likely to be little more than just another generic sci-fi action movie that I hate to admit that I'm not really all that interested in seeing anymore.

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