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Taika Waititi is just a few weeks away from his biggest film to date, Thor: _Ragnarok, and the buzz is very good. The superhero movie is currently projected to have the biggest opening of all the _Thor movies, so it seems safe to say that Waititi is going to have his pick of the litter when it comes to future projects. One of these projects is said to be Akira, a long-gestating adaptation of the classic anime movie. Waititi has at least been in discussions about the directing the movie and while he has not signed on yet, he did reveal exactly how he would cast the film.
Yeah. Actually Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent. Yeah, I'd probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.
It might seem strange that Taika Waititi answered a question about casting with "Asian teenagers," but it really isn't. Hollywood has a trend of "whitewashing" roles of Asian characters -- especially in adaptations of anime. As people have begun to take more notice, the backlash over these decisions has gotten much stronger. Waititi isn't officially directing any Akira movie yet, but he was able to share some parts of his vision with IGN and that vision involves keeping the film tied to its Japanese roots. As far as star power goes, he sounds like he's looking for relatively unknown actors or at least ones who haven't exploded into the mainstream just yet.
This is no doubt satisfying to hear for critics of recent casting debacles. Hollywood has a history of giving historically Asian roles to white actors, and no matter how justifiable the decision may seem to studios, the conversation has gotten more visibility after a few major missteps. Recent examples include Ghost in the Shell and the Netflix adaptation of Death Note. Taika Waititi has a history of being cognizant regarding inclusion and social justice in the past. He notably was adamant about making sure that Aboriginal people were hired for the crew of Thor: Ragnarok while the movie was filming in Australia.
For those who may not know, Akira is an influential manga series that was adapted into an influential animated film in the 80s. It was set in a futuristic dystopia where the leader of a motorcycle gang must stop his telekinetic and insane best friend from destroying all of Neo-Tokyo. The film is credited as being one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, and Hollywood has been trying to get their own adaptation of it for years. Plenty of directors and actors have had their names attached to it. Before Waititi, Jordan Peele was reportedly approached about the project but turned it down.
Who knows if an Akira movie will ever happen, but you can see a different Takia Waititi film very soon. Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3, 2017, and you can pre-order your tickets right here.