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As described on IMDB site, the Akira remake:

Set in New-Manhattan a city rebuilt with Japanese money, the story focuses on two biker friends. Further plot is not known at this time.

My issue is not with non-Asian actors (but I kid you not if Robert Patterson takes one of the roles for this movie I will be disappointed in Hollywood, Even though I already am), my issue is with the reason why Akira worked. It worked (for me) because I liked the Tokyo setting

  • Post war experiences
  • Post atomic bomb experiences
  • Overpopulation
  • Daily economic struggle

These items can be seen in a few old anime movies

Now it is being moved to New York of which if anything that this will be relatable to would be 9/11 or an alternate reality where the crime rate reaches uncontrollable levels like in Escape from New York. The dystopia for New York just doesn't really seem to fit the bill. Which by all means is not a problem, so why not change the name from Akira?

I've seen in the past how Hollywood takes something and turns it into nothing, but that's okay, the goal is to make money. I just want to know why and how are they going to spin Akira, a movie that dictates anime direction for all anime of the past decade to a location where dubbed movies are favored over subtitles. Even taking into account that North America is English speaking, it still does not explain the need to change location. The point was to show the culture within Tokyo and how crappy it can be for the characters.

So could someone please tell me how will this work for a place like New York?

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2 Answers 2

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The usual answer Hollywood offers when they do this sort of thing is that they want the audience to connect to the story. Since they are probably aiming for the largest possible audience (more money!) they will go for (what they perceive to be) the lowest common denominator. Thus Americanizing the story, to almost beyond recognition. They believe that (to most Americans) New York is far more familiar than Tokyo as a possible dystopic city. The differences between the two cities is perceived by Hollywood to be beyond the common movie goer.

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  • Hmm I could see that for a city not situated on a island nation. If a nuclear explosion were to happen in New York it would affect the surrounding areas of the U.S. Now who is going to intervene in battles in the US? The UN? sounds weird doesn't it? The plot itself would have to be changed.
    – phwd
    Dec 1, 2011 at 0:56
  • @Alonzo: Wouldn't be the first time Hollywood threw logic to the wind, especially when it comes to action blockbusters, which is almost certainly what they want to spin Akira as. Dec 1, 2011 at 1:04
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The goal was to make the film 'more accessible' to Western audiences. Presumably the calculation was that remaking a Japanese film and setting it in Japan would exclude key demographics from wanting to see it, and doom the film to financial failure.

Norrington said in an interview that his story "preserves the tone, the visual and the epic scope of the original whilst telling a somewhat more accessible story (to Western audiences)."

Akira Hollywood Remake!?

Noting that this is a Hollywood-funded film, clearly the studio would want to use some of their homegrown talent. Setting it in a Japan-influenced American city would mean that they could use all the American actors they want and all the Japanese-looking iconography they want, but without facing accusations of whitewashing for doing so.

So they just bought Manhattan Island, and it became the fifth island of Japan, and they populated it. It became New Tokyo, and it was just off the coast of the United States. So it was Japanese territory, it wasn't New Tokyo, but there were Americans who kind of lived in little Americanized quarters of it. I felt it was a way to do a kind of cool Western-Eastern fusion of the two ideas; not fully Japanese, not fully westernized. Whether or not you'll ever see that version, I don't know, but I thought that was kind of a cool solution to that problem of westernization of a Japanese concept.

Screenwriter Gary Whitta Says His AKIRA Script Took Place in a Japanese-owned Manhattan

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