Earlier this month, The Akira Project debuted its fan-made live action trailer based on the now-legendary works of manga and anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo.
It’s a labor of love that has been in the works for nearly two years and a striking example of how Akira can be brought to fans in live action form. Whether you’re a die-hard aficionado of the manga and anime, or you never read or watched the source material, you should check out this stunning, yet brief, clip of sci-fi artistry.
The Akira Project was spearheaded by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen, a longtime fan of Otomo’s work who also co-founded a production company in Montreal called CineGround. He’s an award-winning producer and director of short films and had a team of skilled people working with him on the project. It’s fan art made by people who already had the experience to understand what kind of job they were undertaking.
In the summer of 2012, the group launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise some of the funds needed to complete the endeavor. The goal was $7500 to add to the $5000 that they had. By the end of the campaign, they raised $3,428, a little less than half of what they requested. Ultimately more than 40 people – from actors to VFX artists – from across the globe were involved in the project. Filming took place over the course of four days later in 2012. More than a year later, the trailer hit YouTube. In only a few weeks, it has already racked up over 2 million views.
The Akira Project is significant for a few reasons. Akira, first a manga by Otomo and, later, an anime directed by the same artist, remains incredibly popular years after its release. It was a global hit, one of the titles that helped popularize anime and manga in North America, and went on to inspire a new generation of sci-fi storytellers. For years, there has been talk of a Hollywood-made live action adaption of Akira. It’s talk that has been met with varying degrees of groans from fan communities. Not long before The Akira Project launched, Hollywood casting rumors and talk of changing the location from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan stirred controversy. In fact, The Akira Project mentions the Hollywood Akira chatter on their site. The fan project, Nguyen notes, is “a chance to stick as close to the source material as possible.”
The amount of love that went into making this trailer is obvious. There’s an incredible attention to detail in everything from the costumes to Kaneda’s bike to the look of Neo-Tokyo. It’s a trailer, so you’re not going to get too much of the story in the clip, but you will get a feel of the visual identity of Akira. That’s important because the look of Akira‘s futuristic metropolis is as crucial as the complex, science-fiction narrative that unfolds.
More importantly, this fan-made trailer shows what can be done to bring the famed manga and anime into a live action setting. It is possible to adapt the story with reverence towards the original and still make something that will capture the audience’s attention. Akira is a work that deserves a live action adaptation, if for no other reason than to introduce this world to audiences who are unfamiliar with it.
With one trailer, Nguyen and his team managed to capture the excitement and drama in a form that could draw new folks into the world of Akira. If this were a feature, I would absolutely head out to the theater to catch it on opening night.
Image: The Akira Project