While it’s no secret that Warner Bros.’ live-action adaptation of Akira will deviate from the source material — moving the setting from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan and utilizing a largely American and British cast — there’s been little indication of how drastically the story and characters will differ from Katsuhiro Otomo’s celebrated cyberpunk manga and anime. However, a casting call may provide the first clues.
For starters, Kaneda and Tetsuo are no longer childhood friends and gang members; they’re brothers (that much was previously suggested). And Kaneda isn’t the teenage leader of a motorcycle gang, but rather the owner of bar. From there … well, just read the story description, courtesy of Acting Auditions:
Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother Tetsuo is abducted by government agents led by The Colonel.
Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join with Ky Reed and her underground movement who are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City thirty years ago when it was destroyed. Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous but after finding his brother again, is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers.
Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy, Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind. Kaneda clashes with The Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira but arrives too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo as Kaneda races in to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island, as he did thirty years ago.
The blog lists Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham Carter and Ken Watanabe as the film’s stars, but only the casting of Hedlund as Kaneda can be considered even close to “official.”
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the $90 million Akira is expected to begin production in late February or early March.