After years of false starts, Hollywood is finally making moves on a live-action Akira adaptation. Leonardo DiCaprio and Andrew Lazar are set to produce with Taika Waititi at the helm, all targeting a May 21st, 2021 release date. It turns out fans of the classic manga and anime will have even more to look forward to in the coming years, as Akira creator/director Katsuhiro Otomo has announced he’s working on a sequel anime series.
The news came during a panel at Los Angeles’ Anime Expo (via The Hollywood Reporter). Besides the fact that Bandai Namco’s Sunrise will be producing, few other details were discussed. Still, the very idea that Otomo is back in the world of Neo-Tokyo is exciting news.
What’s more, a 4K remaster of the original 35mm print was also announced. It’s due out in April 2020, which is somewhat felicitous timing for those familiar with Akira lore. Though dates were changed for the American release, the Japanese plot is set in 2019, 37 years after Tokyo is destroyed by a nuclear explosion that sparked World War III. The city has since been rebuilt as Neo-Tokyo and the action takes place as its residents prepare for the 2020 Olympics. Of course, Otomo wrote all this 30 years before the actual Tokyo was selected as the real host for the 2020 Olympics — thankfully, without the WWIII decimation to precipitate the choice.
Otomo wrote and illustrated the Akira manga comic from 1982 to 1990. He also wrote and directed the 1988 feature-length anime adaptation, a landmark film in the genre. Budgeted at $9 million, the production was the most costly anime of its time, but the expense ended up being well worth it. Over a series of rereleases, the film has brought in $49 million from the worldwide box office and $80 million in home video sales. It’s now regarded as one of the defining anime and cyberpunk movies, helping to spread the influence of Japanese style and culture to the Western world.
There’s no word yet on when exactly the follow-up series might debut, but fans will likely have to be patient. At Anime Expo, Otomo also revealed that he will write and direct his third anime feature, Orbital Era. The film is his first since 2004’s Steamboy, which took him a decade to complete. Orbital Era takes place “in the near future on a space colony under construction” and will focus on “some boys in this peculiar environment and society who keep living their lives while they’re being tossed about by fate.” Watch a teaser below.