Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality


“AKIRA” adaptation courts white actors

March 22, 2011

Deadline.com reports that the script for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ American live-action adaptation of the manga Akira has been sent to a short list of actors. Although the characters will retain their original names — Kaneda and Tetsuo– from the Japanese graphic novels, the story will be set in “Neo-Manhattan.”

Deadline reports the names of actors currently being courted with the script:

Image Credit: IndiWire

For the role of Tetsuo: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy.
For the role of Kaneda: Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.

“I’m guessing, but I suspect the American group most under-represented in modern Hollywood is young Asian-American males.” – film critic Roger Ebert, 2010

Given the current lack of lead roles for actors of color in the science fiction genre, the complex characters of Akira would be a great opportunity for Asian American actors. Last year, a Racebending.com volunteer ran a count of the 241 Warner Bros movies from 2000 to 2009 and found that only 2% had an Asian first-billed lead. Aside from The Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, the majority of films with Asian leads starred Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.

Although Asian American actors are sometimes cast as supporting actors in films like this month’s Sucker Punch, they still struggle for representation in leading roles in Warner Bros. films. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?

In contrast, even though 40% of movie tickets are purchased by people of color, 90% of the films released by Warner Bros between 2000 and 2009 featured a white lead.

Because one out of every 10 modern-day Manhattanites are Asian American (Lower Manhattan is 41% Asian,) it would make just as much sense–if not more sense, given the names “Kaneda” and “Tetsuo”–for the leads to be Asian American as it would for the leads to be white. Tetsuo and Kaneda should be cast with Asian American leads.

Racebending.com will be following up on this issue. Stay tuned for more updates.

Take Action! What you can do:

1. Retweet our Tweet about the situation to help get the word out. Earlier today we were featured on the front page of Twitter.

2. Join the Facebook Petition and tell your friends so we can get an exact number of people who are upset about the decision to whitewash this film.

3. Blog about the situation on your own blog and/or encourage your favorite bloggers to do the same.

Questions? Please read our Frequently Asked Questions about AKIRA for more information.

Categories: Akira, blog, Featured
Tags: ,

About the Author

Marissa Lee is one of the co-founders of Racebending.com

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  • ack

  • Michael

    This… ¬_¬
    This is crap. I mean, just, WHY?! I’ve never seen the original anime, but seriously? Do they honestly think people are so stupid that they won’t notice a distinctly white character with a very japanese name?

    I will mention that I myself am white, and it is *appalling* how this is… it’s just *wrong*.

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  • Mimmiroo

    These guys are way too old. Aren’t the characters supposed to be juvenile delinquents? Iunno, these guys look much too old to play the part. Race issue aside…

    • Armonia

      Yeah, they’re supposed to be in high school. There’s even a scene of them getting chewed out by one of the faculty after they were arrested. 50 bucks says it gets cut.

    • cidu

      That was my first reaction after them not being Japanese, wth, this isn’t 90210, ya cant cast geriatrics as kids anymore…

  • Girl

    what a stupid idea. You’d think they’d learn after The Last Airbender.

    Hollywood is truly out of touch.

    Hello. Asian people make over 2 billion people. Think of the movie sales!

    • Birdyoung

      Learn what? Yeah people whined about the non asian cast.Yea critics ripped the movie. Guess What. The movie made over 320 million dollars worldwide . A huge take and uh oh, success financially. That is what the studios care about and the Last Airbender tells the studios it was NOT a mistake.Whats the last big predominately Asian cast film that has done well in the US. Crouching Tiger? Asian films,although beautiful and entertaining,don’t do well here. Only a few stars have been able to do well (Jackie Chan,Jet Li) in lead roles ,and honestly they only did marginal business at best.I wish it wasn’t the case but I completely understand why the studio would do this with a big budget project.Its much safer and they are gonna protect their investment.And sorry but they dont need AKIRA fans dollars or Asian dollars if you will.They need middle America and that is what they aim for.

      • Razzpoohtinuh

        Actually, there’s really no legitimate reason for Hollywood to NOT cast Asian American actors. Since we’re speaking of The Last Airbender, there weren’t any Asian American actors…but there was no one even remotely popular cast into the main roles. And perhaps $320 million to YOU is a lot, you have to take into account profit. Now let’s reexamine the situation: The Last Airbender still didn’t do well. You’re also thinking in a very, very small minded aspect of the Asian American acting community. Have you turned on your TV within the past 10 years? Remember Star Trek? There were many other films where Asian American actors didn’t star in roles that were conventional with their culture, but still made a decent (AWESOME) living.

      • Charles

        In hollywood terms 320 million isn’t even close to a profit, since it took around 150 million to make the fucking movie. A true profit would’ve been 500 million, and then, there would’ve been the green light for the second movie. But there hasn’t been, you know why? Because the movie was shit and just barely under decent in the box office. If Hollywood learned from TLA, then they would know that they wouldn’t be making a true profit if they stayed on the course they’re currently on.

  • T5ptrust

    Screw, that, petition the actors NOT to take the roles, if the entire potential cast declines what can the producers do? but then again, what are the chances that those actors would turn a role down based upon the cries of the people?

  • Turning an animated masterpiece (aka AKIRA) into a live-action film is bad enough. But the racebending is an act of blasphemy.


    Listen, Hollywood. You have to understand that the medium is important. There’s a reason why The Fantastic Mr. Fox was so . . . fantastic. If it was yet another 3D thing with talking animals, I doubt anyone would have paid as much attention to its aesthetic merits.

    So when you’re dealing with a genre-defining masterpiece like Akira, there is a lot about it that works precisely because it’s a work of animation.

    Fine, whatever.

    But at least try to keep it Japanese. Hell, even making it about Japanese Americans would be awesome (aka, another reason to see George Takei on screen).

    And they can save that BS about it being easier for today’s audiences to relate to. If the response to recent events in Japan is anything to go by, today’s audiences don’t need the protagonists in their movies to wear whiteface in order to identify with them. Basically, what this WASPified Akira says is that what’s wrong with the original is that it was by and about Japanese people.

    Um. Yeah.

    • Thats me

      it wouldn’t be turning “an animated masterpiece” into a live action film, it would be turning a masterpiece epic graphic novel series into a live action film. 

      • Actually, it would be turning an epic serial manga into a live action movie.

    • You’re absolutely right – it’s absurd – their trying to use white actors for something that is clearly Japanese!

    • DC79

      I don’t care if this is an old post- I have to say:
      “Hell, even making it about Japanese Americans would be awesome (aka, another reason to see George Takei on screen).”

      “There’s been a temperature increase in the central Akira chamber.”
      “Oh, myyy….”


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  • The setting has been moved to neo-Manhattan. Of course theyre going to cast white actors! I know Manhattan is home to a wide variety of ethnicities but the fact of the matter is that the residents are predominately white. Complaining about this is like complaining that they chose against casting Asian in The Departed remake. This is a movie that should not be remade, and they are casting far too old, yet the ethnicities of the actors is a no-brainer.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, there are more people of color in Manhattan (55%) than non-Hispanic white people in Manhattan (45%).

    • Anonymous

      How is it a ‘no-brainer’? Why NOT cast the leads with Asian-American actors?

  • upsetting!

  • Upsetting, so upsetting!

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  • Wait, they’re not actually going to call them Kaneda and Tetsuo and then cast white actors, are they?

    I assumed they were just going to make the character white Americans with new names (and frankly I would have been fine with that- if they’re changing the setting to the US I don’t think they have to stick to the ethnicities of the original characters), but if they retain the original names the actors should definitely be Asian.

    Also, that quote from Ebert is very true. Whenever I think about under-represented ethnic groups I always think of black characters in movies and games, but as bad as they have it I can’t think of a single example of an American or European made product with an ethnically Asian character apart from Mirror’s Edge.

    • Kevin Klawitter

      I remember reading that an earlier draft of the screenplay had renamed Tetsuo “Travis”. Can’t be sure if that’s been kept through the rewrites, though.

      I think what we’ve got here is a Catch-22. Cast whites in the lead, be accused of racism. Cast asian, be asked why the story had to be relocated to Mahattan. At any rate, ask why the movie had to be made when there is already an excellent anime of the manga.

      I’m trying to stay open-minded. I can understand why people can be upset, but I still think that if the Japanese can make their own version of Macbeth or Lear, Americans should be allowed to adapt “Akira”.

    • So just like right now Asians have “English” names because that is the predominant culture, if we’re looking at a future where Asian culture is much more predominant then it makes sense that all races would have names from the current culture. I have no idea if this is what’s intended, but I think it’s a lot more open-minded and forward thinking than some of these comments, if that is the case. It’s the exact opposite of “who would name a white baby x?” The shoe is on the other foot.

      I could be very optimistic here, but on the one hand it sucks that this chance is being wasted, on the other hand it could be a very big compliment, if this is a future where Asians are dominant.

      • KSC

        If Asian culture in America is more predominant where are the Asian Americans in this film? I’m confused.

  • I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the Hughes Brothers. Having come from a marginalized people, they should know better. Is this the Hollywood Machine or self-loathing, or both?

  • Um. . . Why can’t white people be named Kaneda or Tetsuo? Because no Asian-American would have a name like John (Cho), George (Takei) or Bradley Darryl (Wong)?

    • Anonymous

      How many white people do you know with an Asian name?

      • I know two Hispanic girls named Mei-ling, so…

        • KSC

          You can be Hispanic and Chinese at the same time. Perhaps the girls you mention have Chinese or Asian heritage, in addition to their Hispanic heritage?

      • Zero. How many people do I know that live in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Manhattan, several years in the future? Also zero.

      • samosamancer

        I went to high school with a white girl named Parvati who went on to appear in one of the seasons of Survivor. (Though as a South Asian myself, I cringe at the fact that she mispronounced the name, saying it as “par-VAH-dee” instead of “PAR-va-thee”…that’s another rant for another day, though.)

    • Movie Lover

      why do you suppose they named their kids anglo names? why do you suppose some actors change their names from estevez to sheen? why do you think so many women of color bleach and straighten their hair? what do you think is really going on?

    • As an Asian-American, let me tell you why my Asian-immigrant parents gave my siblings and me average/popular English names. As much as they wanted to give us names in their mother tongue, they realized an English/non-foreign name would spare their children an endless tirade of name-calling, mispronunciations, and whatnot. They believed it was a necessity for us to better assimilate in America. They’re not alone in their thinking.

      Sure, you say names are just names. However, why is it when a celebrity names her baby “Apple”, the world goes nuts over children being named after fruit. Why is “Apple” considered to be so bizarre and wacky when it’s just a name and word? There’s more to names than you think.

    • Scorpy

      You have answered your own question because John Cho and George Takei are Asian Americans that’s why they have American names. And those white boys are not White Japanese that’s why they can’t have Japanese names.

      Even if it’s fictional those white boys still can not be White Japanese to acquire Japanese names since the location is Neo-Manhattan, which means they are Americans unless they are Japanese tourists.

      Even If those white boys are White Japanese who come to Neo-Manhattan from Neo-Japan as Japanese tourists they still can not have Japanese names unless they have a Japanese father and a white mother. That’s also why Maria Ozawa has a western first name because her father is white.

      But Asian Americans such as John Cho and George Takei can be named Kaneda or Tetsuo because they are playing Japanese whose names can not be played by White Japanese.

      I hope you can see the absurdity of your question but the real question why can’t Asian American male actors be named Kaneda or Tetsou in Hollywood due to racebending?

    • Guy

      Asian people don’t force easternization like white people have forced westernization on a lot of asians to make it “easier” to pronounce their names

  • JJ dela Cruz

    The crux of the problem is money. The producers go with whatever they THINK will bring them the most money. The reason they stick with white guys is because that’s what we colletively keep throwing money at when we PAY to go see the latest leonardo di caprio or brad pitt movie. We throw money at them when we pay for cable or satellite television.

    How do we solve this problem? PIRACY is the answer to this problem. As soon as this movie comes out, put it up on a Torrent site and distribute freely. Make DVD copies and give them to your local chinatown DVD peddler to sell.

    do not PAY to see any movie whatsoever unless it advances the image of Asians and Asian american men. You might not realize this, but unless you are really mindful of how you spend your money, the racist hollywood producers already have their hands in your pockets. I realized this in 2005, and since then I have canceled my cable television. I do not pay to see movies unless it features an Asian in a leading, positively portrayed, non-stereotypical role. If I absolutely have to see the latest Brad Pitt, or Leo Di caprio or George Clooney movie, I make sure to neutralize my behavior by donating 2x the cost of the movie ticket to an Asian filmmaker, or to a cause that promotes Asian media literacy.

    Nothing again’st white people. White people are great and I have many white people in my family. I love white people. But no matter what we do, white people will be fine, and unaffected by the activism we take up. They will always be seen in a positive light. But unless we act now, then Asians and Asian Americans will never be seen in a positive non stereotypical light.

  • Josejdelacruz

    Also, it would be nice if we could organize 1960s civil rights-era sit-ins at casting calls and movie studios. How’d you like to see a whole MOB of Asian-American actors sitting in protest at these casting calls that exclude them specifically? Let the world see that there is no shortage of Asian-American talent.

  • Clint Steele

    I don’t know why you’re all so stressed. Chances are they will make a dog’s breakfast out of it. You don’t really think that they’re going to stick with the original concept do you?

    Take a look at what they do to all foreign concept when they are Americanised

    The less it resembles the original, the better. Otherwise the reputation of the original is more likely to be tainted by this.

  • Clint Steele

    I don’t know why you’re all so stressed. Chances are they will make a dog’s breakfast out of it. You don’t really think that they’re going to stick with the original concept do you?

    Take a look at what they do to all foreign concept when they are Americanised

    The less it resembles the original, the better. Otherwise the reputation of the original is more likely to be tainted by this.

  • Vito

    stupid petition. Its a story rewritten for AMERICAN FILM…it takes place in Manhattan. why would they cast asian actors?

    • Anonymous

      If Tetsuo is supposed to be “American” in this version, why are none of the actors they are auditioning American?

      (Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy are all from the UK.)

      American =/= white.

    • Anonymous

      If Tetsuo is supposed to be “American” in this version, why are none of the actors they are auditioning American?

      (Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy are all from the UK.)

      American =/= white.

    • Anonymous

      Because last i checked, ‘American’ is NOT synonymous with Caucasian, which is EXACTLY what every actor lined up for this film is.

    • KSC

      So then why would they cast non-Americans in an American film? It takes place in Manhattan.

      Asian Americans would make more since than people from the U.K., if it’s just about nationality, right?

  • Vito

    stupid petition. Its a story rewritten for AMERICAN FILM…it takes place in Manhattan. why would they cast asian actors?

  • Of course, the Japanese would see no problem with this. “An American version? Why not white people?”

  • “Get the race right”? So people of Japanese descent can’t name their kids Richard or Michael?

    • Oh Micheal, can you really suspend disbelief enough to laugh at suggestion that it would even be plausible that Hollywood would make a movie starring Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington with characters named Boris and Chance? …Really??

      • KSC

        Not sure if you’re joking but Boris Kodjoe is the name of well-known black actor.

        • Boris Kodjoe is Black and German, hence the name.

          …And my point, that Hollywood is not at all likely to make any other color actors besides the white ones “racial chameleons” was lost on you.

    • Guest

      How plausible is it really that you’re going to find two Caucasian kids named “Tetsuo” or “Kaneda”, even in a neo-Manhattan city? I know plenty of Asian kids named Richard or Michael, because those are names chosen by parents in an attempt to further integrate their children into American society. On the other hand, white “Tetsuo” or “Kaneda”? Unless Japan or the American weeaboos took over the States I doubt it would ever happen.


    • Guest

      How plausible is it really that you’re going to find two Caucasian kids named “Tetsuo” or “Kaneda”, even in a neo-Manhattan city? I know plenty of Asian kids named Richard or Michael, because those are names chosen by parents in an attempt to further integrate their children into American society. On the other hand, white “Tetsuo” or “Kaneda”? Unless Japan or the American weeaboos took over the States I doubt it would ever happen.


    • John

      Granted if the producers and screenwriters keep the names and have white people play the characters it’ll be unusual since it’ll be more than likely be set neo-Manhattan, a city located in America. So yea, it’ll be kinda messed up if they do that. Asian names and America names (Hebrew, Latin origins) are absolutely different due the culture. You change the country in which the film was based, you change the context and culture. 

  • Regardless of whether white men would realistically have Asian names (and there’s no reason they shouldn’t), this movie would be a great opportunity to open up the industry to Asian-American. And Hollywood has such great Asian-American actors!

    But, of course, Asian Americans don’t sell movie tickets because they don’t get roles, and they don’t get roles because they don’t sell movie tickets, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

  • Scribjerky

    What the hell? Akira was a genre changing film, and they’re willing to fuck it up with white washing? I’m not watching this garbage. Time to pull out the original.

  • Anonymous

    Surely, when you’re not commenting on internet posts, you too are helping the homeless and starting soup kitchens.

  • Yes.

  • With the success of Slumdog Millionaire with an almost entirely Indian cast you would think they would at least try it. Especially just from the idea that its such a huge overseas market. Anyway this movie shouldn’t even be a thought let alone a full script looking for actors.

  • Casual Vader

    This is going to turn into another Dragon Ball: Evolution. Just sayin…

  • Allison

    This upsets me, but it’s just one more slap after my face has long gone numb. Hollywood has a long history of taking/borrowing/stealing the stories of other cultures and rewriting them in the language of whiteness. Hell, before TV, American writers were doing it to literature. I am, honestly, surprised they’re keeping the original names. Think of early anime that was brought to the US, not just dubbed but often renamed and the storylines changed to make them more ‘American’ (White). Consider what happened with the original runs of Robotech and Sailor Moon. Easily a 1/4 or more of the shows on network TV in the past few seasons have been Americanizations of foreign media.

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  • Hana

    I think Ninomiya Kazunari would be a better choice in this film. He was in Letters from Iwojima opposite Ken Watanabe. He has awesome acting chops that can blow all of those “short-listed” actors out of the water.

    • Dustin Griffith

      Yes I agree with you, I believe Kazunari Ninomiya can play the role of Kaneda from AKIRA.
      Because after watching Ninomiya and his co-star Kenichi Matsuyama in their film GANTZ, I thought Ninomiya was great in that, same with Matsuyama. They were in the mood of fighting and killing Aliens. Anyway I know Ninomiya is almost at the age of 29 and he’s still a young man to keep himself energized. I say he be perfect for Kaneda. To play Kaneda, Ninomiya can have a happy, sad and serious face look for his character. He can speak Japanese and limited words of English. Tetsuo as I should have remembered earlier, actor Tatsuya Fujiwara from DEATH NOTE (2006) I’m thinking he could play the role of Tetsuo, but could he? Hollywood to me now a days that make anime live-action films into white washed films is BULLSHIT! I seriously want AKIRA to be a Japanese live-action film instead of it being an American film with only white people, like Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson. I thank you for thinking about Ninomiya as Kaneda. Dustin Griffith

  • Freddy

    This is the perfect opportunity for Asian actors to be given the spotlight. But once again the greedy white people in hollywood wanted to hog the spotlight. DBE and TLA already failed big time. When will they ever learn?

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  • kela

    All this bitching and not one of you actually named an asian actor…give us a suggestion instead of constantly complaining, all the endless complaining in the world wont stop this from being made

    Seriously name an asian actor who’s age fits the film…..you can’t….not cause there arent any good ones but because no one knows who they are

    • “but because no one knows who they are”

      …Which is because they never get cast as leads in Hollywood movies.

    • Anonymous

      That ‘Sebastian’ guy is an IDIOT!

  • akemi

    Well technically Manga Artists usually do draw Caucasian Characters with “non asian” features :/ I see no big deal, Just pointing out the fact that they’re white and already hating on them is just as racist :p Racism doesn’t just go one way people 😛 I mean Avatar the last air bender now THAT was wrong cause clearly the characters were asian, and the script and effects were horrible.! even with the whole culture. But Akira, it could be played by anyone :/ don’t judge the color just judge the acting of the actors, Most of al of these actors are grammy and oscar nominated so don’t go all bashing, we’re ALL PEOPLE regardless, The same could be said about japanese, they think “americans” are blond haired blue eyed when in reality NO, you can’t define an american by color cause we’re all mixed with different backgrounds. WE’RE ALL PEOPLE -___- so don’t go hating just on their color of skin, wait till the film comes out at least

    • KSC

      If “we’re all people” why are there no Asian, Black or Latino faces at the top of this blog post?

      FYI: Akira features young, Japanese kids in Neo-Tokyo. Which was built after the destruction of the actual Tokyo, a real place in Japan. Which, last time I checked, was 99% Japanese, with the majority of non-Japanese being other Asians.

      And wow @ you calling us “racist” for questioning why only white people seemed to be called for the role. I mean…I just…it’s too much.

  • Z.

    One more reason why I despise Hollywood. This is going to be a blockbuster for sure *sarcasm*.

  • This is absolutely ridiculous. Hollywood seems to have a very narrow perception of what will be successful with fans. Occasionally we get something like Dark Knight, and otherwise you have your Green Lanterns, Thors, and white Akiras.

  • By whitewashing and Americanizing Akira, it’s obvious WB isn’t appealing to the true fans of the original movie, but rather the “average” movie goer who will be enticed by the futuristic setting, big name actors, and explosions. Which is a slap in the face to Akira’s original creators and its loyal fans, and I’d be disappointed in the former if they allowed this crap. Like with the Dragonball Z movie, they are basically taking an existing, popular piece of film and tossing out key aspects that make it appealing to the true fan in order to “Hollywood”-tize it for the general movie goer and make an easy few million. It’s about the laziest, most pathetic way to go about trying to make a movie.

    There is a heap load of racism behind the sort of thinking that average movie goers wouldn’t relate to a story about Japanese characters set in Japan, despite the fact THAT IS WHAT AKIRA IS ABOUT. If WB wants to write and produce a movie driven by star power, then they need to come up with their own damn concept and not steal one of the greatest futuristic stories of all time.

  • By whitewashing and Americanizing Akira, it’s obvious WB isn’t appealing to the true fans of the original movie, but rather the “average” movie goer who will be enticed by the futuristic setting, big name actors, and explosions. Which is a slap in the face to Akira’s original creators and its loyal fans, and I’d be disappointed in the former if they allowed this crap. Like with the Dragonball Z movie, they are basically taking an existing, popular piece of film and tossing out key aspects that make it appealing to the true fan in order to “Hollywood”-tize it for the general movie goer and make an easy few million. It’s about the laziest, most pathetic way to go about trying to make a movie.

    There is a heap load of racism behind the sort of thinking that average movie goers wouldn’t relate to a story about Japanese characters set in Japan, despite the fact THAT IS WHAT AKIRA IS ABOUT. If WB wants to write and produce a movie driven by star power, then they need to come up with their own damn concept and not steal one of the greatest futuristic stories of all time.

  • Just to clarify my position here; Asians are seriously underrepresented in Hollywood movies, and that sucks. That, however, doesn’t counteract the logic of what I just asked; Why can’t a character named Kaneda be white? Especially since a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures has been a staple of the cyberpunk genre since it’s beginning?

  • Just to clarify my position here; Asians are seriously underrepresented in Hollywood movies, and that sucks. That, however, doesn’t counteract the logic of what I just asked; Why can’t a character named Kaneda be white? Especially since a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures has been a staple of the cyberpunk genre since it’s beginning?

    • Anonymous

      The point isn’t whether or not white people are allowed to be named Kaneda. (Clearly, Hollywood feels they can be.) People are questioning why Hollywood will, time and time again, never recruit Asian American actors for roles. We all know white people can play heroes, even Asian heroes. We’re waiting for the day when Asian American actors can do the same.

    • KSC

      Please don’t pretend as if cyberpunk did not cater to a white, middle to upper class male elite. POC and women were not invited into that space and had to create their own.

      Sure, Western cyberpunk might have taken some elements from Eastern (specifically Japanese) cyberpunk, and the two are somewhat related, but to act as if cyberpunk in America, for example, is a “mixture” of Eastern and Western cultures is ridiculous.

      There is no history in cyberpunk of white men being named Japanese names.

  • …Don’t forget hot slutty Asian ingenue.

  • Ororo

    Three words, FUCK. THIS. SHIT.

  • Goddammit, Hollywood. Goddammit.

  • Lautrec

    Have you been to Chinatown in Manhattan? Pretty realistic.

  • Zakaman

    Nothing seems to be enough. As someone in the industry, I think that Hollywood needs to grow a pair. For “security” purposes, execs often insist upon hiring A-list actors to sort of keep their asses in check–the logic being, even if the movie flops at least the celebrities’ fanbase will buy tickets to support them. They should know by now though that even films with A-listers flop BIG time and they could’ve probably saved money by hiring a cheaper actor/actress. I think more articles like this need to be published–asian americans need a stronger protest. Keep in mind that in SF too, Asian Americans constitute by far the largest minority (33.3%, 20% for Chinese Americans ALONE). Even in LA, we are the 2nd biggest minority only after Hispanics at 11%

  • It looks like Warner Bros is trying as hard as possible to ruin one of my favorite manga / animes… Why aren’t they looking for Japanese actors to star in this Japanese story that takes place in Japan?! “New Manhattan”!? Seriously?! And a PG-13 rating?! >:( Akira should be rated NC-17!!

  • Kishaun

    Somebody from Glee in Akira? I think that is more outrageous than the whitewashing lol

  • Marchander

    American filmmakers have been doing this for decades. Look at The Magnificent Seven or The Departed. Would it help if as well as the names they changed the title of the movie?

    Personally I’m tired of American films anyway. I’d be more interested if they set it somewhere completely different like Berlin or Mexico City. It’s set in the future so why not? We saw with District 9 that films don’t have to be set in New York for them to be successful. How does everyone feel about Brazilianized Akira?

    Anyway, we’ll always have the original.

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  • Ramses-Bob

    The movie will suck anyway, so why bother?

  • Anonymous

    If this film is set the in future. Isn’t China suppose to be the new leading country. But asians still don’t exist in the future for Hollywood. They need to get Joss Whedon on this, he knew what the future was going to be like.

    • Much as I love him, though, none of the major/supporting characters were Asian. Even Whedon fell into the trap.

  • That is actually not true. They look very Japanese, but American viewers like to make the assumption that they do not. This question is addressed in our FAQ.


  • Scorpy

    This is a travesty. I just read somewhere that the creator, Katsuhior Otomo will be hands on as the executive producer. So basically he has no problem with it as well.

  • Micky3412

    WHY?? Why are people so FUCKING STUPID??? Oh yeah it’s a brilliant Idea to keep the original names and whitewash the characters. Fuck you Hollywood!

  • Anonymous

    The thing with this type of films (anime turn live action) are the characters names that’s all. Kaneda and Tetsuo ect. should be changed to American names and problem solved!!! It is a Hollywood ADAPTATION (west hemisphere) besides I read it’s going to take place in manhattan not tokio.

  • akira fan

    somebody contact Jackie Chan… anyways imagine watching Enter the dragon without Bruce lee and with chuck norris this is what this live action would be like.

    When i looked at the “white” cast i thought how do these people resemble any of the characters and so i went on google and searched asian actors and some actors from asian dramas ive watched… took me a minute one suggestion (Tsumabuki Satoshi – Kaneda). Im never watch this film if it comes out.

  • Last Ronin

    This attempt at revamping something that’s already a masterpiece is a case of the “I’m all out of ideas” attempt at Warner Bros. to make more money with very little input. This is just an insult in the faces of the original creators of “Akira”.

  • Ugh. . . It’s been fun, kids, but this is getting kind of boring.

    BTW, I don’t know if this makes it better or worse, but I don’t think the characters will actually be named Kandea and Tetsuo. In the last version of the script I read, Tetsuo was renamed Travis.

    It’s worse, right? Yeah, it’s worse.

    Let me leave you with a hopeful note; It’s easier than ever to make a movie these days. Maybe instead of trying to insert Asian characters into Hollywood garbage from the directors of Lady In The Water and From Hell, we could be seeking out, fostering and encouraging independent voices who could actually be making movies of quality. I mean, Wayne Wang made Chan Is Missing in 1982 with what was essentially pocket change, and that movie is both entertaining and impactive.

    Work your way from the outside in. What I want to see is the Asian version of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Stick it to the man, man.

    Good luck with your protest though, guys. Sincerely.

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  • ami

    Johnny Yong Bosche deserves a chance. He’s better than any actor listed. We should start a campaign for him!!

    • Cameron

      Ah, no he isn’t. While I do agree that an Asian actor should be cast in the role. I must admit that Garfield, Pine, Fassbender and McAvoy are all better actors then he is.

    • Cameron

      Ah, no he isn’t. While I do agree that an Asian actor should be cast in the role. I must admit that Garfield, Pine, Fassbender and McAvoy are all better actors then he is.

  • Scorpy

    You are welcome. I hope you have learned a valuable lesson from your own ignorance. Just to be clear, the Japanese father doesn’t have be biological. The white boys can be adopted by Japanese parents.

  • Scorpy

    I see that you still have not learned from your own lesson. In your example, you are defying linguistic logic to name your white boys names that you yourself can not pronounce, nor knowing the meaning of those names. You don’t just throw a wok down the stairs and just name your white boys those sound, do you?

  • Birdyoung

    Its not about racism, its about money.

    • Financially motivated racism is still racism.

  • Lsrms3977

    I don’t think any of these actors would be proper. They should cast Asian actors like Rick Yune, Daniel Henney, Justin Chon, Sho Kosugi, etc. They would look a lot better in the movie versus these White actors mentioned.

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  • SK

    I think your statement about the characters in Akira is arguable. If you ask me, many (if not all) Japanese people actually think the characters in Akira are Japanese. If the characters are supposed to be “white,” then Otomo probably would have chosen more Western names along with a Western location.

    I mean, heck, Japanese writers give their Chinese characters Chinese names…so now tell me why they would give their “white” characters Japanese names? Do you really think they’re going to be so lazy that they can’t look up Western names? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    Oh and if you’ve ever met any Japanese-Americans, Americanized “fobs,” or just any Japanese person influenced by the West, then it should be clear that the Japanese are not afraid of using Western names (e.g., Aaron, James, Brian, Arthur, Amy, Alex, Eric, and Angie/Angela are all quite popular). This is what leads me to believe that Otomo did not intend to make Kaneda (and the others) white.

    So, before you start stating things as if they’re fact, please try to not be so narrow-minded.

    And just as a side note, I’m sick of Caucasian people claiming that every anime is about them. Maybe Asians should start claiming that “The Simpsons” are Asian just because their skin is yellow. I also hope that Caucasian people do realize that Asians DO NOT portray/draw their own people with slanted eyes. This crap only happens in the West.

  • Juan

    You need to loosen up and get a life. That’s the way Hollywood works. You should know it already. The only other option is to make a movie with your own money and cast whoever you want.

    • Samuel

      Hey, women of the 1900’s, so what if you can’t vote, that’s just how the U.S.A. works. You should know it already.

      Hey, blacks in the 1940’s, so what if you can’t eat in the same restaurants as whites, that’s just how the food industry runs. Loosen up.

      Hey, minorities in the present, so what if you never get represented in film due to institutionalized whitewashing. Racism, stereotyping and gleeful ignorance makes money. Get a life. Or hundreds of thousands of dollars and make your own movie. Sheesh.  

  • Noah386

    This is going to be a horrible movie, and really the best way to fight it is to take the money out of Hollywood’s pockets and their un-original stories and throw it in to other films (basically nothing out of Hollywood).
    As a fan of the original Akira there will be nothing to entice me to see this movie,I know it will just make me angry. So rather than try to make Hollywood see the light I will spend my money elsewhere, and I will try to convince all my multicolored friends not to see it.
    I suggest we all do the same, especially if they dump the rumored $300 million into this. If we can make this a commercial flop, they *might* start to open their eyes and see that continually bastardizing other countries films and whitewashing them don’t work. then maybe we will see some original diverse movies out of them.

    But realistically, middle America, and the demographic they go for (guessing that it is the under 30 white crowd) will eat this shit up and we will be having to deal with more and more of it.

    So the only real way to win is to not watch, support filmmakers that are original and can use actors that don’t have two white parents.

  • Vadvaniv

    right… and i’m sure you would have no problem with studios casting jackie chan as the next superman. according to your logic, kal-el, after all, is a kryptonian and not necessarily an anglo-saxon. creativity should neglect fidelity to the origin and cultural context that a story was created in, and for, right? dumbass.

  • And of course, you have to realize that almost all media executives are white. Middle-aged and older. And completely clueless about the American and international pop culture they’re trying to assimilate and/or destroy. I think it’s no coincidence The Last Airbender turned out so bad. Knowing Hollywood, I doubt “White Akira” will be any better.

  • Kgr55555

    Did anyone care when they cast Will Smith as the lead in I, Robot…..or as the guy in Wild Wild West……both characters were white to start, but they made them black. I did not see anyone start a website to protest that!

    There are so many things in the world to be upset about….is this really something we need to piss away time on? So what if they cast whites…..I understand that Asian people want to have more leading rolls in films, but what everyone needs to understand is this in a business. Movies are not an art….it’s about money. Sad, but true. If WB or any other studio wants to make money they will hire a person they know will bring in the crowds….or even a race. Most people want to see what they know…it makes them more comfortable. Blacks love tyler perry, but how many whites have watched his movies? Not many….it’s just life.

    • Ivan

      No one whines when a white character is changed to a different race because white people are already hugely overrepresented in film. If white people were chronically underrepresented and then had their few obvious roles recast as a different race, you better believe people would whine. But that just isn’t current reality.

      And arguing that having white leads gets better scores at the box office is a bit difficult when white leads have always dwarfed leads of other races; they’ve never had a chance to receive anywhere close to proportionate representation, so we don’t actually know what effect that would have on sales. Anyway, the success of black actors is a big problem for that diagnosis.

      Even assuming it is true that white lead actors get a better showing at the box office, greed doesn’t justify racism either. Defending their unwillingness to represent races equally based on their proclivity to make the most insane profits possible is just a baseless dismissal of the entire issue. The doctrine that racism is fine as long as its economically viable is absolutely racist.

      • Actually, plenty of people (racist and non-racist) whined about a black man being cast as a character as one of the *norse gods* in Thor.

        • cidu

          WAIT! The hell you talking about? I must have missed black Thor, thats just wrong, its like having a white jesus or something…

          • Van

            Oh, Thor isn’t black. Heimdal, however, is.

          • Yeah, having a man from the Arabian peninsula being played by someone who isn’t white would be really weird…oh wait, no it wouldn’t.

        • Clint Steele

          Good call, James.

          I think Thor shows that the problem is more complex than we realise. And maybe more dangerous.

          Anyone remember Battlestar Galactica? That involved racebending from one minority to another, plus some gender bending.

          I think that race is changed to make the audience feel comfortable, and not to tell the story as it is or should be.

          The issue does rest with society. I think websites like this, as they get more publicity, is the best way to change this. I really do think that attitude toward race has regressed in recent years, and not improved. People get upset about things that aren’t racists, because they think they should and then turn a blind eye to the subtle whitewashing or tokenism.

          By the way, a black Heimdallr I guess is condescending, but why does Hogun the grim need an Asian accent? Now it’s like Asians aren’t even speak English properly. Anyone recall that scene form modern family when the gay blokes tell everyone that their adopted Asian daughter is called Lilly?

          Seriously, WTF is going on in the world?

        • Lucky5

          @James Broderick II
          No offense, but you’re pointing out a single character, where as in the upcoming Akira live action film, the casting seems to only allow non asian actors for all the main parts for a story that originally takes place in Japan (and even the animation is drawn to have the characters look asian).  There is no excuse for Hollywood to not represent Asians when Akira was one of the few anime ever to be played in theaters here in the states.  I remember when Akira first came out, it made anime extremely popular and was considered new and groundbreaking at the time.  I find the live action version very upsetting because once again, Hollywood could ruin another popular anime.

    • Xiomaralotus

      White people always portray characters that arent white and do you know that most of the cowboys 3 out of 4 were black!!!! Check the stats!!!! Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, white actors played African parts. They just wont stop. They know want to dominate Bollywood and Anime, Akira. Not all blacks like Tyler Perry

      • rightsprung

        Most of the cowboys were black? Uh, most of the cowboys were ex confederates, pushed out of the south by carpetbaggers and by the war they lost. There were blacks who fought for the union, but most cowboys were, and are white. Jeez. I’m canadian and I know that history better than that. What stats do you want us to check? Link please…

        • This article states that 1 out of 4 cowboys were black. Black cowboys are definitely underrepresented in Hollywood films and other entertainment media.


          A significant number of cowboys were also Mexican and American Indian.

          • the term cowboy was used to refer black people who worked on the ranch. “Boy” is a slur used by white people to refer to black people. Cow=animal..boy=black male. hence Cowboys, it don’t mean gunslingers or gangsters that Hollywood put it… It was used for ranchers.

            Like wouldn’t say that Italian people are mafia or a guy who dressed with their pants down is a gangbanger.

      • Rkwoods2

        I am sorry to have to burst your bubble on this but Cleopatra was Greek not Egyptian. That doesn’t mean she didn’t. Have a dark complexion

        • british person

          Depends on the cleopatra? and then she was still the colour of most modern eygptians today , this is why elizabeth taylor used some sort of tan for the role.but i do not have a problem with her being cast in the part.

    • John

      Your entire post is talking out of your a*s. I almost don’t want to respond since your post is so ignorant. This is a topic to be rightly pissed about because it further, and quietly, instills the systematic racism that is upheld in Hollywood. I’m not saying white actors are not talented, because there are plenty of white actors who are talented and play roles I see no one else playing – granted their roles were written for white in mind. How can you not understand that, or at least see that? 

      And, um, movies are art. It’s commercial ART. Business comes first followed by the product. If it wasn’t art then what would it be? Your argument falls to the wayside because there are plenty of roles for white actors, not so much Asians in Hollywood. If a white actor isn’t called back for a strong supporting role or a lead, he/she has more chances of seeking roles elsewhere of the same magnitude. How many minority actors would love to work with Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese but can’t because they aren’t white and each director only knows how to write white characters? It’s both pathetic and demeaning.

      How many times a character could be played by any skin color but instead  studios choose a white actor (and I’m not talking about tanned whites, I’m talking about East vs. West here)? How many times a character, in its original context is Asian, but they cast a white actor? The answer for the second question I bring up is: plenty. AKIRA is a perfect example if producers, the director, and studio choose a white lead that it’s just one potential role for a talented Asian actor to be a lead in major blockbuster gone to waste. 


  • Kgr55555

    Come on……stop the passive aggressive crap. When we get over this PC stuff and see people for what they really are, that is when we will truly have moved to the next level. Just because whites like to watch other whites on the big screen does not make them bad people. Tyler Perry makes movies for blacks….and makes millions. Blacks like watching other blacks. People like things they are comfortable with…..is that so bad???? Stop looking for a fight where there does not need to be one!!!!!

    • Evolgit

      I know plenty of blacks, whites, and Asians who in fact like to watch people of other nationalities and races on a screen.  I do like it, in fact.  My friends do.  And having a minority as a lead is a treat given that it seems like 99% of any given movie in theater we see is starring a Caucasian male.

      This isn’t passive aggressive crap.  This is people going ‘what the hey, why can’t the lead be asian?’, and then protesting.  And really I should hope that a majority of people have moved past the whole ‘there is an ethic other on my screen, my delicate sensibilities!  How will I ever understand and identify with this mystery character!?’ thing.  No ones eyeballs are going to implode from seeing an asian as a main character in a movie theater.  So the comfort thing is kind of invalid.

      And it does not help your argument when you go from ‘when will we see people for what they truly are, are we not all humans?’ to ‘white people like seeing white people, deal kay?’ in the span of a sentence.

  • KHoffer

    The themes and philosophy are so distinctly NON-European, it’s going to confuse the movie itself by casting it this way. Hey, I’m a white actor, and I’d love to be in this freakin’ movie, but have little hope it’s going to be any good if suits make the casting decisions.

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  • Ty

    WTF!? why are all these old guys auditioning for the part of 2 juvenile delinquents?
    R.Pattinson is the youngest dude in the bunch and even he is a bit too old…. This movie is going to suck!

  • Kwinnky

    “I don’t understand. Isn’t this what creativity is all about? Taking something which is really good and making it your own?”
    lolwut? No, taking a previously existing property and just changing a few things around is not creativity, it’s the opposite. It’s a mere attempt to use a fanbase to sell some formula drivel. If they were creative, they would have developed an original idea.

  • Ben

    As a black male that is exactly how I felt about the BSG remake. If the original Akira took place in Japan but had Anglos as the leads it would be almost understandable but removing Asians from the leads is racism pure and simple.

    • Prophet

      Isn’t removing Asians (and all non-Whites) the overall goal for White people? They did it to Native Americans: “Hey thanks for keeping us from starving when we Pilgrims first got here. Have some smallpox-laden blankets so we can take your land.”
      Asians? Japanese-AMERICANS put in concentration camps: Italian- and German-Americans free to do whatever they want, even joining anti-US groups like the German Bunds in the states. And they dropped the atomic bombs on civilian cities, NOT military targets.
      I’m note even going to start on Africans, what with slavery, the KKK, apartheid and all that.
      WHITE POWER!!!

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  • Flamethrower-7

    Watch this backfire hugely and alienate the fan base. There are plenty of Asian actors that would be fantastic for the role but no, moron Hollywood has to go all Wonderbread with the actors…

  • Anonymous

    You know what I always thought was weird was how most anime characters are depicted as white characters. How’s that for racebending?

    I mean, look at Akira: http://bluraymedia.ign.com/bluray/image/article/949/949749/akira-20090130034741181_640w.jpg

    Other than having black hair, he doesn’t even look especially Japanese. The names are a giveaway, but other than that, there’s nothing about his looks that make him an Asian person. It’s not about being stereotypical either. Look at an Asian person, then look at that drawing. The drawing doesn’t even look like a rough caricature of a Japanese person.

    If there was a live action Sailor Moon movie (gawd help us all), should they cast a Japanese girl with blonde hair? I mean, that’s not what the anime visually depicts. What about Vash and Chobits and DBZ? The list goes on. It’s all very strange and something I’ve wondered about and never got a satisfactory answer as to why most Asian/Japanese anime depict their main characters as white with (and only sometimes) side characters as Asians? Are we supposed to think of them as Asians only because the drawing style is anime? It’s all very odd. I don’t think WB is totally to blame here. Just look at Akira and try to pick an actor who looks like the drawing, you’re just not going to find too many Asians that look like him.

    • Please educate yourself by reading the following links. The Japanese pioneered the animation style, Mukokuseki, that we continue to use to this day (the same style that is also used by Disney) by drawing Japanese characters. The way these characters are depicted is exactly how Japanese characters are meant to look.

      Many people hold the misconception that Japanese people draw anime characters to be white. This could not be further from the truth.

      Just because they look white to you does not mean they are white. They’re not.

      Please read Sociological Image’s article Why Do the Japanese Draw Themselves as White, or Matt Thorn’s article The Face of the Other.

    • Aiyo


      This short youtube video should answer all questions

    • Gamblera

      I can agree with you about characters looking white in some anime, but the characters in akira do not give me that vibe at all.

  • Chiefofskater

    noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo shit i don t want them for testou vs testuo i want joseph gordon lewitt is alone testuo and one two actor is complitace for kaneda shit who say permission ? shit shit shit tron and sipderman and singer and twilliget break and x men are not in akira !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! no question for remake akira because ……. i means let dont go themm role of kaneda and testuo likes precious for movie

  • Aiyo

    When will Hollywood learn from their mistakes, I mean what the hell? And if for those saying anime characters look white there is a video on YouTube explaining that they do not http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKTvFhRbBt8 so just stop. Moving the location to New York doesn’t mean they still can’t be Asian American. And why are the choices so damn old (well not “old” old but Tetsuo and Kaneda are in their teens) A bunch of old white guys on a bikes and maybe one POC will look like a sci-fi sequel to Wild Hogs. LOL

    They are many young Asian American actors that could be great for the role I can’t name a lot of them because they rarely get a chance. There is harry Shum Jr. (Yeah yeah I know but here he is in a 3 minute action video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMIfScB9aY0) he is young enough to play a teenager and fine and popular too or maybe Steven Yeun from the Walking Dead. Or that guy from Twilight

    This could be a very great opportunity for Asian American actors, since they are poorly portrayed in Hollywood http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrayal_of_East_Asians_in_Hollywood.

  • Mark

    Chances are the that the studio will just change the character names: Tetsuo becomes Ted and Kaneda becomes Ken.

  • Guest

    Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake? Wow. I’m deeply impressed. Aren’t there any other actors who can actually act? I wish they wouldn’t go for those who are the most popular right now but for those who actually fit the roles. And those guys are way too old.

  • Sasageru

    I’m a great fan of Akira, both the graphic novel and anime film and i am looking forward to the live action. BUT i’m really worried about the choice of potential actors ^^; Also, the youtube video brought up something to mind that scared me. They’re keeping the characters original names, Tetsuo and Kaneda… i’m praying to god that the pronunciation is kept correct… Anyway, i have my doubts about this, but i’m willing to give it the chance. But if they ruin the Akira story and atmosphere, or make it into a mindless horror i’m going to be pretty annoyed.

  • You know, its sad when an animated parody from years ago – by a british man no less – somehow accurately predicts what the Akira movie is shaping up to be.

    Honestly someone should just yank the license to the name.

  • Rebl76

    Please, can you have a petition also for those not on Facebook (Yes, we exist)

  • Erthwjim

    Race aside, does anyone really want to be associated with a film that will probably flop? Doesn’t matter what color the actors are or aren’t because personally I don’t think this movie has a chance at success. Even though this movie is popular in most crowds, even those that don’t watch anime, I believe it’s doomed for failure. I don’t think American directors should even be directing this. Who cares if the screen writer adapted Harry Potter and that the director is known for violent movies, this is not something that should be developed in America first. Take it back to the drawing board I say, but as many have stated, this is about the money.

  • Thegowerarts

    This is awful…Any Akira fans will hate this from the get go and unless they dramatically change the plot it isn’t going to be the most cinema friendly film in the world, so what is the point? If they do make it then obviously it should have asian actors, but it really shouldn’t happen full stop… This is going to be a disaster just like the Dragon Ball Z live action. There needs to be some kind of protected film list that guarantees no further adaptations can be made in the future… Ghost in the shell and Oldboy can be on the list too since Hollywood has had it’s eyes on them too.

  • Lilee

    I’m finding it weird that somehow asian is supposed to be so different from white. I don’t know if this is an american perspective but I’m european. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that Keanu reeves is an asian actor, and then I had to go off and Wiki… and I still think that’s an odd statement, he’s American! And the use of the word ‘colour’ to describe any person noncaucasian seriously doesn’t travel well. Is the insinuation that everyone from oriental, through indo-asian to afro-caribbean have more in common with each other as groups than anyone in relation to caucasian? Like they are all black and not white and then you have white. Um, no. I actually find the whole above article quite racist. And apparently because I’m half Italian I’m black, or coloured or something. Confusing.

    Most adaptions by countries will naturally have the majority cultural and racial population represented. You rarely see anyone afro-caribbean in a Japanese film, or caucasian in a bollywood. Racist? maybe a little bit but that is cinema for you, it deals in stereotypes as it is a heightened fiction media. It does raise issues when people go for colourblind casting, but only if an alternative culture is bled in to the film from the cast actor that is too different from and not present in the source matierial and can be considered a corruption. Or if it throws up too many historical errors like if it was a civil war film and you are ignoring issues that would have been present by casting black or whatever. But a civil war Bollywood film with indo-asians would be fine.

    It would be more strange for America to buy a property (Akira) and then say we are only casting asians, it would defeat the point of an american studio buying the film. You may as well pay for a Japanese studio to do it. It’s academic anyway as there is no way this film is going to preserve the feel of either the manga or the anime and it is going to be entirely terrible.

    And by the way, the tradition for manga and anime characters to look slightly westernised emerged because all the Japanese artists were copying american comic books when they came in to the country in the early 20th century. I think now their own individual style has developed (into quite freakish really), which is in turn being copied by americans whose own style now is becoming easternised.

    • Guest

      I’m surprised by your post…If you “find the whole above article quite racist,” then maybe you should march yourself right to WB and complain about not having African Americans or Latinos considered for the main parts either. THe fact that they only asked caucasian actors is what sparked this whole conversation.

      I was pretty appalled when you said:

      – “You rarely see anyone afro-caribbean in a Japanese film, or caucasian in a bollywood.”I mean, seriously? There aren’t as many other ethnicities in those countries compared to America. There are tons of ethnicities in California. It’s almost like everytime you turn your head, you can see someone who can represent their race. It’s not that hard to find someone from a particular group here. Not only that, but smaller film industries like Bollywood have a specific audience. They don’t market their films overseas and if they do, they don’t see much of a profit. On the other hand, Hollywood markets its movies to the world. That is why when some Hollywood films flop in America, they can still make a sequel because of their profits from other countries.

      – “It would be more strange for America to buy a property (Akira) and then say we are only casting asians, it would defeat the point of an american studio buying the film.” Why would that defeat the point of an American studio buying the film? Caucasians are not their only market. I mean, I guess it would be “strange” if you knew your entire audience was ONLY white and the cast be ONLY Asian…but it’s not like that. Hollywood also is supportive of all African American and Latino casts but not an all Asian American cast. Why is that? Why can’t Asians be casted in a movie that DOESN’T involve martial arts?

      – “You may as well pay for a Japanese studio to do it.” But Japanese studios don’t have the budget that hollywood does. That’s probably why they didn’t do anything with Akira before.

      Anyways, like you said, you’re European. You probably don’t fully understand why race is such a huge issue in the U.S.

      I’d say it’s pretty understandable that the Asian community is angered. Hollywood is supposed to be accepting of all races, and of all movies…especially since it is in AMERICA, “THE WORLD’S BIGGEST MELTING POT.”

  • MP

    There are beautiful e good asian american actors, like Daniel Henney.

  • J. Wang

    The only roles Asian males can get is drags or servants. Asian community does not aspire to be an actor because movie industry hold such of low prestige in Asia that many are labeled to be gay (or in real life), or no better than a prostitute. Successful role model in Asia is a successful businessman, owner, or professionals. The mindset needs to be changed. My father beat the crap out of me when I told him that I wanted to be an actor so I had to change my career path to fit his wishes. Conformity is the norm. It does not change overnight.


    Men, what are they thinking? After DBZ, how can someone make the same mistake?

  • The problem here goes further than just Warner Brothers but to white entitlement. The white actors themselves should refuse to play a role as an asian when we have so many asian actors already. I’ve said before it’s not about stardom, hollywood is in the business of making stars. They use unknown white males all the time for roles as large and iconic as Superman, Captian Kirks father etc. What hollywood has shown is that it is NOT in the business of making Asian stars when it does stupid things like this. Would warner bros remake Shaka Zulu and cast one of those same white males as Shaka…no! Could hollywood adapt Shaka Zulu for an American audience where everything takes place in america, but change the name to something else…yes. It wouldn’t make sense to have a white man named Shaka Zulu in a american movie. Asian shouldn’t accept such blatant misrepresentation.

  • Guest

    the biggest problem with this is that WB is taking Akira, keeping the japanese names yet giving the role to caucasians. That doesnt make sense. The concept of this story can easily be transferred over to any civilization…but keeping the japanese names while casting white people is really weird. Either they stick to the original setting and hire asian actors or they take the concept of Akira and creating to reflect american society….as in change the names and certain social aspects

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  • Meeoko

    I don’t even think it should be about race as much as it should be that WB shouldn’t be allowed to buy the rights to Japanese stories/manga/anime… They ruined Dragon ball for that matter.

    AKIRA will not suck because it has a white lead. It will suck because they are taking an asian culture mindset and are going to conver it to a dummy down american world. I bet it wont even be neo tokyo… it’s going to be like Neo LA.

  • It’s incomprehensible to me: clearly audiences in the USA and Europe value good acting regardless of where the actor is from. Anybody ever heard of Michelle Yeoh? How about Chow Yun Fat? Come on, there’s dozens if not hundreds of capable actors for a story that’s taking place IN JAPAN to at least fit the part! The popularity of the animated version in the US and Europe speaks for itself. Beyond that: fans of Anime demanded subtitled instead of poorly-overdubbed versions, and look how successful that’s been! This is an obscenity that’s clearly got an unsavory racial element we’re all better off without WB!

  • if this movie script doesn’t get fixed so that it is true to the original or at least close( no remake is ever perfect) i am going to boycott the movie. i think we may have another Atari ET on our hands.

  • barney111

    I suggest Takeshi Kaneshiro

  • ShikiKira

    What the Flying Fuck! The roles should be going to Asians not Whites! Do the casters NOT notice the Japanese names! Do these ‘professionals’ even consult the creator of Akira? I mean come on they consulted J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter casting, why not the creator of Akira for the Akira casting. Warner Bros. you have just hit the same level as Disney for me.

  • Through_hell

    I don’t understand this. Asians are complaining about this race bending thing, which I say yeah fair enough, Hollywood should create opportunities for Asian actors and I agree that it is disgusting how they “racebend”

    However, why don’t asians ever complain when asian characters in anime are drawn to look white. e.g Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. It has always been established that he’s japanese yet he looks white. Why do japanese artists continue to draw their characters to look white? Here are some more examples of japense characters who look white: Light Yagami from Death Note, Rurouni Kenshin, Ayato Kamina from RahXephon.

    It is rare when they actually make the characters look Japanese for example in Akira they did look Japanese and in Jin Roh they all looked japanese.

    I’m not trying to be horrible and I believe Asians have every right to protest against what Hollywood is doing. I know alot of hardcore anime fans will flame me and say horrible things to defend anime to the death. But I’m not sorry to flamers who are going to be rude to me because they disagree.

  • Suckit

    why the shit would they cast a white actor? I mean, it’s not hard to find Asian actors… half the world is full of Asians -.-.

  • Nlosangeles
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  • Boottodahhead

    It’s pretty simple why this keeps happening. Any white person in charge of a movie is too afraid that the depiction of any other race presented will be perceived as negative.

    They don’t want to be “That white guy that depicted Asians wrong” So they stop depicting Asians entirely.They’re thinking “I’m white… What the hell do I know about an Asian perspective?… How do I tell this story without offending people who DO have that perspective?… *ridiculously ridiculous lightbulb!* We cut out the whole issue entirely!”And then someone says “Yeah, I mean, if people of any given race were only allowed to tell stories about their own race… That would be racist… This is a really good idea.”And it barrels downhill from there.So would you rather be perceived poorly by a white guy? Or not perceived at all? It’s madness… 🙁

    • But it’s not like those are the only two options, Option A: White person depicts Asians or Option B: Don’t Depict Asians at All. (Perhaps what people also don’t realize is that the average Asian American has a lot in common with any other American.)

      Certainly the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender did not let those fears get to them. They went with Option C: Work with a lot of Asians and cultural consultants to get it right.

      Being “the guy who erases, marginalizes, and doesn’t depict Asians at all” is not an improvement from “the guy who depicted Asians wrong.”

    • Aiyo

      Your comment reminds me of a blog post from what tami said http://www.whattamisaid.com/2011/03/you-choose-triggering-tokenism-or.html

      As Marissa Lee explained there are ways to get ish right, without offending anybody Mike and Bryan creators of Avatar The Last Airbender are two white guys and they sat down with people to get ish right.

      The question is are people willing to dohe research. When I see a film or TV show or a book and they mention something about vodoo or any type of African originated religion 9/10 times they get it wrong by following hollywood racist tropes. Instead of actually talking to people experts people who follow the religion.

      Plus Hollywood dipicts Asians and other POC all the time.

      • Heh, you’re right. Hollywood isn’t scared to depict Asians in shows when they’re Triad gang members or promiscuous dragon ladies in the background or as a guest episode. And Warner Bros. is releasing the third Harold and Kumar (they did not create the franchise, but bought the franchise when they bought New Line Cinema.)

        They’re not afraid of getting Asians wrong, apparently they’re afraid of putting Asians in starring roles in Akira. And it’s hard to think of a reason for why that isn’t influenced by racial discrimination.

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  • fuck hollywood. seriously

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  • pookie

    Wait, a second I’m SURE at least one of the biker gangsters is going to be of African American descent. It’s only natural.

  • M_shelburn324

    I have never read AKIRA or any manga comic, really.But the fact that they want to cast white men as an Asian character is disgusting. M Night Shamalan (no one will ever spell that name correctly without Googling – and I dont care enough to) did this exact same thing with The Last Airbender last year, and it TANKED because people were pissed that the characters weren’t true to form, aka, ASIAN!
    Could you imagine if they had an exclusively American cast for Harry Potter?
    Or what if they cast a black guy as Edward in Twilight? This is a work of art to it’s creator, and it should be treated as such. With respect to it’s true form.I dont understand why they wouldn’t give an opportunity to new talent in a demographic that is HIGHLY underated (how many martial arts-y films can 1 person do before that’s all they are – Jet Li), instead of casting the same people for everything over and over again.(Really – what is the draw to RPats… he can’t act his way out of a hole).

  • Teleri

    My Goddess.  WHAT are they THINKING!!!!!
    This is a Japanese masterpiece, idiots…

  • Ironwings

    How ’bout the fact that this list of potentials just sucks all around I can’t picture any of them really being convincing as Tetsuo and Kaneda, some of them are actors I really like and have really enjoyed seeing in other films but I just can’t see any of them being successful in these roles.
    Also you would think that the general failure of the Dragon Ball live action would maybe be a bit of a hint that you shouldn’t mess with a beloved story, if you don’t want to do it right pick another story and leave this for someone who actually cares about the story’s fans, you know the people who are going to see this movie

  • Iu

    Can we all just please learn from the live action Dragonball film & stay as far away as possible from the idea of a live action masterpiece anime performed by white guys?

  • There are a couple of problems with what I am seeing about this movie besides the most obvious one pointed out by our beloved Mr. Takei
    1)  You really must set it in Japan, as this being a post nuclear attack country, the primary message of the film makes this location meaningful (and it would be even more so after the earthquake).  Setting the movie in America would be akin to setting a remake of Lost in Space in America, because, you know, that is the only way an audience can relate to it.
    2)  Besides being white, all the actors are in their 30s and 40s…once again, an essential theme would be missed if the main characters are not youngsters.  I mean, isn’t an essential feature of Kaneda’s hubris his very youth?

    WB wake up!  It has been 45 years since NBC was brave enough to trust audiences to accept the multi-cultural cast of Star Trek.  They fought the good fight and it paid off in the form of a multi-million dollar enterprise (pun intended) that still is going strong.  We live in a global world now, and as such, we have even more exposure to other cultures to situate our understanding. I think it is time for studios to get it through their heads that we have been ready for years, they are the ones who aren’t ready.  If that is the case, than maybe it is time for those executives to retire, as they no longer understand their audience (if they ever did).

  • C

    I’m tired of whitewashing, strategic racial placement, Japanese actors replaced by Chinese and so on.  I’m also just sick of how America is running out of ideas.  From what I’ve read, Japan is planning on selling the rights to many more things we may love.  I could shrug and try to love the adaptations, but not only do I kind of dislike most American films in general, but I’m kind of insulted by what it means–Americans cannot watch foreign films, stand reading subtitles, and so on.  Yet many other cultures can tolerate what we give them with little adaptation.  Please stand against this.  Write whomever you can who may have power, pass on the dislike and please avoid supporting these things in the theater.  Go buy some manga, Japanese merchandise.  Hollywood, Disney and so on sees us leaving them for Japanese media and they want that attention, too.  I would rather see them fight on their own.

  • Anonymous

    My main problem is that they are keeping the Japanese names for the characters. Normally when a film is localized they at least fully localize the characters. Having them keep Japanese names is a little offensive and weird. I have no problem with a country taking another countries story , but at least fully localize it. 

  • asian guy

    asians aren’t people of color

  • Aurelia

    This is disappointing… I’m white (just throwing that out there since we’re talking about demographics who want to see more Asian actors onscreen), and I like to watch Korean and Japanese dramas, and a lot of the actors / actresses are really good. Export them to America 🙂 I also agree that Asians / Asian Americans are woefully underrepresented in Hollywood. Also, this movie adaptation sounds nothing like Akira. And… Robert Pattinson as Tetsuo? ROFL. Next some unimaginative person will suggest Justin Timberlake for a role. Oh wait, they did… *cries quietly in the corner*

  • British person

    The casting of the live action version is a bitch.damn hollywood.

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  • Jean Yus

    eh em

    prince of persia (pretty much the entire cast)
    dragonball evolution (sure, goku is an alien, who knows what bulma is, but why cant they be asian?)
    avatar the last airbender
    Body Of Lies (Mark Strong is British right? NOT from Jordan……..He also played Sulton Amar in Black Gold….Mark is a great actor, but i think actors should support this too, someone should stand up and say hey, im white….oh yea thats right…money)
    Scarface (great work Al, but you’re white)
    Cloud Atlas (Korean ppl, are Korean ppl)
    Any Cowboy movie from back in the day (Not to say that Taylor Lautner is any better of a choice, but at least they could have tried to find someone)
    Batman Begins (Ra’s Al Ghul is white? They baited us with Watanabe Ken, then snatched it away while laughing….smh)
    The Dark Knight Rises (Natlia al Ghul is white?)
    Breakfast at Tiffamys (Mickey Rooney, now thats just racist, sorry asian ppl, im black and even im offended)
    Drive (in the screenplay Carrie Mulligans character was supposed to be a latin female, She was cast instead because she looked like she needed to be protected. In other words, instead of giving a young latin american woman a chance, they cast somebody else because white girls that live in the hood need to be protected more than a latina living in the hood. Ohhhhh, well why didnt you tell us that earlier!)

    i broke my hand, so i just dont feel like typing anymore with one hand, but im sure everyone here knows that this wasnt even a fourth of the list! so feel free to add on, everyone. The worst part about this list is, a lot of these characters arent even main characters. so not even will hollywood not allow niggas (niggas meaning all of us minorities, since we’re in this together) to have a leading role, we cant get side characters, or even the villain! now you’d think being a villain would be something they like but nooooooooooo. lol SMH

    in all seriousness though (just in case you think i’ve been joking) white ppl cant be “victims” of racism in america since you are the majority…only other white ppl care about your comments, and that shows when you come on here with your two cents and everyone shuts you down (which i think is beautiful by the way). these questions and this cite is for minorities. of course you have a right to speak, it is by your definition a “free” country……..and you also have a right for your comments to fall on deaf ears…..so excuse us if we, by my definition, dont give a fuck.


  • Dani

    These Hollywood executives need to realize that cashing in on a franchise like this requires that one stay true to the source material. To succeed, they must appeal to the already existing fan base by staying true to the original. Especially because there’s no way this extremely complex story line can take any more watering down than it already had to for the anime. Hollywood also should take into account that Asian Americans, a large portion of this manga/anime’s fan base, have a generally larger disposable income and those who are fans will watch it, if they actually appealed to them. Truly, these people’s main goal is making money, and taking this route will not make them money.

  • Kristine

    It has been confirmed that Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) has been cast as Kaneda. I will not watch the movie..

  • Anonymous

    Why don’t you take a powder-movies are produced to make money. The best way to make “movie-money” is by enlisting the skills of the best actors. Be dumb enough to not do that and you have a loser-too dumb for words

    • happyappa

      So only the best actors are white. Uh-huh lol

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  • Margo Isis Li

    I for one will not be seeing this, whenever or if ever this wretched whitewashed film comes out!