Akira is an absolute classic among anime fans, and its release in Western territories was very much a watershed moment in bringing the sometimes adult medium to non-Asian audiences. The film is still a hauntingly beautiful cyberpunk adventure that’s been incredibly influential in various mediums, which is likely why Hollywood has tried so hard to get a live-action remake off the ground. While this idea might be the obvious choice for revisiting the property, its source material would be a better option.
Six years before the Akira film hit theaters, the original manga version by Katsuhiro Otomo began publication. The movie adaptation may be the most well-known form of the franchise, but it had significant differences from the manga. Thus, the main way to do the story justice in a new way might be to bring the full story of the original Akira to the small screen as an anime series.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira Manga Differed From Its Movie Adaptation
At first, the Akira movie would seem to be a fairly close adaptation of the original manga. While this is mostly the case, the film’s climax is essentially an altered version of the manga’s midway point. Otomo was still writing what would become the second half of the Akira manga while the movie was being produced, so much of the material that the animated movie failed to adapt simply didn’t exist yet. It’s this “skipped” material that would change the story entirely as the manga reached its conclusion, creating a much different setting from what came before.
In the Akira manga, Akira himself is still alive and ravages Tokyo a second time, turning Neo-Tokyo into a wasteland. This development turns the story into a true post-apocalyptic narrative, with the surviving characters having to struggle in a hellish dystopian wasteland ruled by a psychotic Tetsuo. This forces Kei, Kaneda and even the former gang leader rival Joker to team up in order to free themselves from the reign of violent psychic superpowers. It’s far more developed than what was done in the movie’s two hours, which is why it finally deserves a true anime adaptation.
Akira Deserves an Anime Series to Adapt the Entirety of the Manga
Due to the constraints of a normal two-hour runtime, even the material that the Akira movie does adapt from the manga is somewhat truncated, as is the case with most novel adaptations. This will likely only be made worse in a potential live-action Akira film, the likes of which could very much whitewash the cast and concepts of the story. Instead of going this route, it would be better to turn Akira into an anime TV series in order to adapt all of the manga and bring Otomo’s story to life like never before. As mentioned, the second half, if not more of the manga, wasn’t used in the movie, resulting in a far different ending. The time span of a TV series would allow for this material to be organically spread out across an anime. The same goes for other bits of character development and interaction, such as the closer look at Kaneda and Tetsuo’s lives before they meet the psychic Espers.
Of course, given the franchise’s anime movie pedigree, an Akira anime show would need to look good at a bare minimum. The movie adaptation is still breathtaking, and that level of animation quality is needed to complement the fuller story of an anime series. Studios such as Ufotable (known for its Demon Slayer anime adaptation) or perhaps even Madhouse would be the most obvious choices, though even they’d need to bring their A-game to work on such a monumental project. The Akira manga is now over 40 years old, and the best way to celebrate that history is to finally bring the entirety of the story to the anime medium.