Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unused AKIRA Concept Art Featuring Kaneda & Cityscapes Of New Manhattan

Originally posted 11/22/2012 @

Warner Bros. has tried numerous times to make a live-action remake of Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s Akira, so at this time I don’t know which incarnation these are for. What I can tell you is that it was created by Brazilian artist, Rodolfo Damaggio. Check it out!

Just a year ago, Warner Bros. live-action take on Akira, starring Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy), appeared to be moving forward, but several concerns arose that lead to the project being shutdown indefinitely. That version would’ve been directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan), but he isn’t the only director to take a crack at Akira. Before Jaume, there was Albert Hughes (Book Of Eli & From Hell) and even Irish short film director, Ruairi Robinson.

Even though WB has been unsuccessful with their live-action version we at least have some concept art from the defunct project. These new images that have surfaced on Rodolfo Damaggio’s ((Hulk, Iron Man, & Green Lantern) website give us a much better idea of the look of the film, whichever version it was for. There are a trio of cityscapes depicting “New Manhattan” and one of the film’s protagonist, Kaneda. Enjoy!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Platform International Animation Festival Katsuhiro Otomo Interview

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Nov 5th 2012 @


At the Platform International Animation Festival in Los Angeles, Anime News Network had a chance to sit down with legendary director and manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo and ask him a few questions over breakfast.

I wanted to jump right in and ask about your new project that’s going to be starting in Weekly Shonen Sunday. What made you decide to do something for younger audiences?

Actually it’s not decided yet if I’m going to go in Shonen Sunday or not. I’ve been targeting the younger generation since the beginning. Now it seems like as the project is getting more geared towards older audiences. So I’m still considering whether to go with Weekly Shonen Sunday or not.

I see. Is there a rough plan/timeframe for when it will be launched?

Well, actually, it WAS planned to launch this autumn. (laughs) Please don’t ask.

There was one magazine that mentioned that you were actually doing everything yourself without assistance; is that true?


That sounds really tough.

Yes, that’s why it’s taking some time. (laughs)

Moving on to older projects: many of my favorite of your works, such as Roujin Z and The Order to Stop Construction, are satire, a rarity in anime and manga. I was wondering if satire was something you find yourself gravitating towards.

That’s totally depends on the basic idea, itself. Sometimes I get inspiration from the politics, but sometimes I get into more fantasy. Not everything in current events makes for a good story — for example, we had a big earthquake two years ago in Japan. I was very shocked, but despite everything that happened, I’m not convinced anyone will be able to make a good work of fiction out of it. Some artists have already started drawing, but they’ve stuck mostly to accounts of what actually happened in Japan.

Lots of veteran anime creators have talked a bit about the future of anime and manga in Japan and worried about the future. Is that something you think a lot about?

Yeah, I think it’s getting harder and harder to become a director in Japan. Maybe some of the difficulties in the business sphere are coming from the earthquake, and everything else going on there. It’s not easy to get sponsors from the corporate world for creating animation these days.

Is there any hope, are you finding any bright spots in the industry?

Well, in spite of all the difficulties, the animators in Japan are all working hard and doing their best, so there’s hope in that. Beyond that, I don’t pay much attention to the trendy side of the business, so I’m really not the guy to ask.

So, talking about your new work, Combustible, its theme is clearly two young people who are trapped in their society, and their attempts to break free from that trap. What inspired that theme?

The basic theme of the storyline is fairly typical of old Japanese literature, called kabuki or joruri. For example, the story of Yaoya Oshichi is, more or less, the same basic story as Combustible. I wanted to take that old theme that we used to have in Japan 300 years ago, and describe with recent technologies, in anime form.

Read the rest of the interview at http://www.animenews … hiro-otomo-interview

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Combustible (Hi no Yōjin) Review

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Oct 31st 2012 @


Taking place in Edo in the 18th century, Combustible is the story of Owaka, the daughter of a merchant family who leads a lonely childhood, save for the friendship of the troublemaking boy next door Matsukichi. Matsukichi is fascinated by fires — when they occur, they often take out whole neighborhoods in that era, and the brave tattooed men in the fire brigade are tasked with pre-emptively demolishing buildings around the flames before the damage travels too far. Matsukichi gets a tattoo, and having been disowned by his father, he joins the ranks of the firemen.

Owaka, however, is not so lucky. Her parents are busy arranging a marriage for her. Miserable to the point of desperation, and pining for Matsukichi to come rescue her, she accidentally starts a fire of her own.


The storytelling in Combustible is nothing new — in fact, it has its roots in classic Japanese literature of its day. What is new is the novel combination of traditional emakimono — the long panoramic scrolls from which manga is descended — and new digital animation techniques. In the beginning the effect is subtle: the story begins as a pan across one such emakimono, which slowly takes on three dimensions and subtle movement, until we are thoroughly engrossed, and the only the dimmed silk embroidery that letterboxes the screen remains.

Though the tale of youth trying, with varying degrees of success, to break free of their societal constraints is nothing special, Otomo makes it compelling through heavy use of atmospherics and a quick pace. That is to say nothing of the fire itself: explosive, terrifying, and so fast that it’s hard not to think of cities of the era as one gigantic death trap. It’s awe inspiring for its sheer scale and audacity, as much so as any huge towering oddity Otomo has constructed to this point.

Although its short running time precludes the viewer from having a strong emotional connection to either character, Combustible nonetheless makes an impression. The story is familiar enough that it feels as if we’re being told a particularly exciting fairy tale, and even if we know from the onset how it will end, we still dare not look away. -JS

Photos courtesy of Fumi Kitahara, The PR Kitchen. Combustible © “Short Peace” Committee.

Katsuhiro Otomo at Platform International Animation Festival

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Oct 31st 2012 @

California Institute of the Arts’ downtown center for the contemporary arts, a section of the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall known as REDCAT, was the setting for a sold-out evening with manga artist and director Katsuhiro Otomo, as part of a new annual animation and art festival entitled Platform. The night would be his first public appearance in North America in 15 years, and the school would be presenting Otomo with the first ever Platform Lifetime Achievement Award.

The crowd, made up mostly of animation students and CalArts alumni, cheered loudly for Otomo, who was brought out briefly for an introduction before his new short film was screened: a 12-minute short entitled “Combustible (Hi no Yōjin),” which will be released later as part of an omnibus feature film entitled “Short Peace”.


After the screening, animation historian Jerry Beck introduced a clip reel of Otomo’s work. Referring to Otomo as one of the “very few game changers in the history of animation,” he credited Akira as having changed the entire perception of the art-form worldwide. The clips presented included several from Akira, the Cannon Fodder segment of Memories, Neo-Tokyo (namely his segment The Order to Stop Construction) and Steamboy.

Otomo was then presented to a round of applause. Along with an interpreter, he sat down with Beck for an interview. The first question was, where did it start for him, in terms of influences?

“I used to love manga as a kid, and wanted to become a manga artist, and when I was in high school I got into movies as well. But being a director was quite a lofty goal, so I decided to become a manga artist instead. The world of manga, as created by Osamu Tezuka in Japan, had its methods rooted in filmmaking, so the two weren’t so different. He was able to move onto making films from that point, as well.”

Beck noticed a thematic pattern in Otomo’s work, of tradition versus new technologies. “I’ve tried to present both sides. I like new things — movies, music, technology and such, but there’s value in the past as well, so I try to be even-handed.”

As for the new film, Combustible, is this the sort of image he had of old Japan? “I really wanted to describe the Edo period in a movie for a long time, but it’s not easy to bring the Edo period to a feature film. Hence, this short project.”

Beck mentioned an earlier conversation with Otomo, where he said it’d be easy for him to get funding for a new Sci-fi film, but that really isn’t what he’s interested in. “Well, sure,” Otomo replied, “but it’s not like it’d be easy to get funding to make Sci-fi either. Recently it’s become very difficult to make sci-fi films as well.” Reflecting on his past sci-fi work, he quipped, “the biggest challenge is that, 20 years ago, no sci-fi had people using cell phones, and now everyone has one. Something so basic to our everyday lives, and we got it wrong. Trying to imagine the future is really tough.”


What were his influences in making The Order to Stop Construction? “It’s a long story. It was from a novel originally. It was the first thing I directed, and the project also involved Rintaro and Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work as well. At the beginning we discussed picking up the stories from short novels, but the other two ended up changing their minds, so I was the only one left adapting fiction.”

As for Akira, was there an immediate demand to bring it to theaters, even before he were done with the manga? “Yes, I was asked to make it, because at the time there was a huge animation production boom. During the manga writing of Akira, I was asked to make it.” Was it given a bigger budget, or was it special in any other way as a production at the time? “We had a huge budget. I don’t remember how I got so much to work with,” he laughed. Was it a big hit in Japan as well? “It wasn’t a huge hit, really. That’s my opinion, but I don’t think it was such a huge hit,” he said with a grin.

What happened afterwards? Did he have lots of producers knocking on his door? “I had quite a few offers, but I had my own list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to make a live action film, and someone asked me to direct one, so I did. And then someone asked me to make Akira 2, which I didn’t want to do. And then Steamboy came a long. And that took many years.”

Was he familiar with the Hollywood remake of Akira that ’s in produciton? “Huh?” he mimed, to the audience’s amusement. “Nope. I work on manga, and I work on animation. There’s no need for me to be involved in that.”

The floor was opened up for audience questions. The first one, after a few false startts, ended up asking his opinion of Looper: “I was really floored by it.” When informed that the director of Looper, Rian Johnson, is a fan of Otomo’s, he said he’d like to meet him. “Is he here?” Beck asked the audience, but there was no response.

Read the rest at http://www.animenews … l-animation-festival

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Opening Scene Storyboards For WB’s Live-Action AKIRA Remake

Originally posted 9/9/2012 @

Warner Bros. live-action version of Akira was shelved due to budget concerns. Now you can take a look at Jeffrey Errico’s unused storyboards for the opening title sequence.

For years Warner Bros. has unsuccessfully tried to adapt Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s Akira for a Hollywood. Last we knew, Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) was set to direct, and Garrett Hedlund was to play the lead role of Kaneda and Twilight’s Kristen Stewart was to play the female lead, Ky. Things fell apart as Warner Bros. wanted to give the film’s $90 million budget another $20 million haircut. Since then the film has been put on the shelf indefinitely. But we can at least check out these storyboards created by Jeffrey Errico, and watch the video below in order to compare the two. Enjoy!

Please keep in mind that these might not have been created for the Jaume Collet-Serra’s version of Akira, as there was two director’s attached to the project previously.


Remake’s Synopsis - 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.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Keanu Reeves In Talks To Play Kaneda In Akira

Originally posted by Mark “RorMachine” Cassidy - 5/6/2011 @

As WB scramble to cast Albert Hugh’s live action Akira flick with 2 leads, the latest name to emerge for gang leader Kaneda is love him or loathe him Keanu Reeves.

Since the rumor that Zac Effron was in talks to play Kaneda hit, we have had several more actors churned up, some of them by the rumor mill and some with genuine ties to Warner Bros live action adaptation of Akira. Now The Hollywood Reporter reveal that the latest big name in connection with the lead role is Keanu Reeves.


Actors ranging from James Franco and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Robert Pattinson and Michael Fassbender have circled the project in some form or fashion as the studio sought to find an A-list lead.

Now comes word that Reeves has held talks with the studio, with whom he already made the massively successful Matrix movies, for the part of Kaneda, the gang leader. Reeves doesn’t yet have an offer for the role, but we hear the talks with his reps have been going well.

Now, word is that this is very early days and may of course not happen. But one thing is for sure, WB have done away with any notion of keeping these characters teenagers…or even relatively young men! Accept that, and how does Reeves look as Kaneda? Well, I actually think the man can be pretty good sometimes and all you need do is look at The Matrix to see what a great sci-fi leading man he can be. But I dunno about this. If he is cast, and you still give a damn about this movie, who would make a good Tetsuo?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Akira Matters -

About this project

The ToonSeum is proud to present an exhibition featuring original art from the groundbreaking anime classic Akira.

Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece Akira is widely regarded as one of the most groundbreaking and influential films of all time. Based on the artist’s own landmark manga series of the same name, the film not only shattered box office records around the world but has retained a fiercely dedicated audience of animators and aficionados for more than twenty years – and for good reason. Akira revolutionized animation and arguably saved the Japanese film industry, paving the way for a new generation of artists and spawning a worldwide acceptance of animation as high art.

Akira was an epic collaboration and full of animation firsts. Adapted from thousands of pages of manga and pooling resources from several of Japan’s largest entertainment companies, the production cost over $10 million, which in 1988 made it the most expensive animated feature ever made. Akira was the first animated film in Japan to record its voice actor’s performances before principle animation began so that character’s facial expressions and lip movements could be synchronized. An elaborate symphonic score was written and conducted by composer Shoji Yamashiro, a then unheard of indulgence that has become one of the most definable and enduring features of the film.

No other film had ever looked like Akira, it’s stunningly fluid and detailed animation often requiring as many as nine separate cel layers. The 125 minute feature was comprised of over 160,000 cels and almost as many backgrounds, each one completely hand–drawn and hand-painted. Purists recognize Akira as the last completely hand-created animated feature, as cel animation quickly gave way to cheaper digital production and CGI technology.

In 2010, the historical and artistic significance of Akira cannot be understated. As the popularity and influence of animation continues to expand, the Akira Exhibit gives audiences the unique opportunity to take a deeper look into this unparalleled achievement in filmmaking. Each item in the exhibit has been hand selected by Akira expert Joe Peacock from his unrivaled collection of more than 10, 000 authenticated pieces.

Visitors will be given access to never-before-seen aspects of the film, from fully-displayed backgrounds, sketches and production development layouts, to the layers of cels that made up some of the most astounding scenes in the film.

The Akira Exhibit promises to be an enthralling experience, sure to captivate any fan of animation and graphic storytelling, from anime enthusiast to those witnessing Otomo’s grand vision for the fist time.

We are seeking public support to help present this remarkable exhibition. Your pledge helps pay for the cost of framing, marketing, and educational programing.
Thank you.

Project location: Pittsburgh, PA

ToonSeum Takes Fundraising to the Fans with the Art of Akira

Press Release

ToonSeum Takes Fundraising to the Fans with the Art of Akira

Pittsburgh–In spring of 2010, the ToonSeum will present an exhibition of original art from the anime masterpiece Akira, a groundbreaking and widely influential work that revolutionized animation. Katsuhiro Otomo’s epic film revitalized the Japanese film industry and inspired a new generation of international artists and fervent fandom.

In a unique approach to increasing the scope of the Akira exhibition, the ToonSeum is reaching out directly to this devout fan-base for assistance. In an attempt to raise the funds needed to ensure the exhibit’s success, the ToonSeum is asking Akira enthusiasts to pledge sponsorship through, a new website that raises funding for unique projects.

“The comic and cartoon arts are a unique pop art form with extremely dedicated and knowledgable fans,” said ToonSeum Executive Director Joe Wos. “There are entire clubs and conventions built around Anime, comics, and more. Akira is revered within this community as a true masterpiece.”

“This is a rare opportunity for that fanbase to directly be a part of what will be one of the largest exhibitions of the art of Akira. We’re very excited about what an organization like Kickstarter can do for a small museum like the ToonSeum.”

Akira was an epic collaboration and full of animation firsts. Upon its release in 1988, Akira was the most expensive animated feature ever made, pooling resources from several of Japan’s largest entertainment companies to complete the production. An elaborate symphonic score was written for the film and all voice actors where recorded before principle animation began for authentic lip syncing. The stunningly fluid and detailed animation required up to nine separate cel layers, demanding over 160,000 hand-produced cels and almost as many backgrounds.

“There is a lot about Akira that reinforces the egalitarian appeal of cartoons,” said John Mattie, ToonSeum gallery manager. “Over 15 Japanese companies contributed to the making of the film employing hundreds of artists, each insisting that Otomo’s vision be realized. Our thinking in utilizing for this project is that all of these fans can show their love and support of the film and help spread the awareness of the cartoon arts. Cartoon fan or cineast, this film is essential.”

In 2010, the historical and artistic significance of Akira cannot be understated. As the popularity and influence of animation continues to expand, the Akira Exhibit gives audiences the unique opportunity to take a deeper look into this achievement in filmmaking. Each item in the exhibit has been hand selected by Akira expert Joe Peacock from his unrivaled collection of more than 10,000 authenticated pieces. Visitors will be given access to never-before-seen aspects of the film, from fully-displayed backgrounds, sketches and production development layouts, to the layers of cels that made up some of the most astounding scenes in the film.

The Akira Exhibit promises to captivate any fan of animation and graphic storytelling, from anime enthusiast to those witnessing Otomo’s grand vision for the fist time.

For information on sponsorships and other opportunities
Please visit:


Contact: Joe Wos, executive director
Tel: 412-232-0199
Website: and

The Art of Akira
When: April through June, 2010
Where: The ToonSeum,
945 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Report: Book of Eli’s Hughes Brothers in Akira Talks

Originally posted on 2010-02-10 13:54 EST @

Menace II Society directors in reported talks over Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga

New York Magazine’s Vulture blog reports that the Hughes brothers — the directors behind Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell, and The Book of Eli — are negotiating with the Warner Brothers movie studio to direct the planned live-action film adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira manga. reported in December that Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, the writers of the first Iron Man film, wrote the most recent script drafts for the two proposed films. According to the Vulture blog, “an official release from the studio is expected later this week” regarding Albert and Allen Hughes’ involvement.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Aviator) is producing the planned live-action film adaptation through his Appian Way production company. Mad Chance producer Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex, Space Cowboys) said at Comic-Con International in August that the live-action project “is a real priority project for Warner Brothers” but is not likely to go into production before the third quarter of 2010 for a 2011 release. Otomo is an executive producer and consultant on the project.

According to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety in 2008, Warner and Appian Way will adapt the Akira manga into two live-action films. Each film would cover three volumes of the renowned science-fiction manga about a governmental genetic project and a teenager’s attempt to save a fellow biker gang member. Otomo directed his own animated film adaptation that premiered on July 16, 1988 — the same day that the story has the fictional Tokyo being destroyed.

Update: More background information added.

Vulture Exclusive: The Hughes Brothers to Direct the Akira Remake

Originally Posted 2/10/10 at 12:00 PM @

Vulture Exclusive: The Hughes Brothers to Direct the Akira Remake

Photo: Toho Company

Vulture has learned that Warner Bros. is negotiating to reteam with The Book of Eli’s Hughes brothers to have them direct a live-action remake of the cult favorite Akira, from a script by Iron Man scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. (Akira is being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s company, Appian Way, along with Andrew Lazar, who’s also currently producing an adaptation of DC Comics’ Jonah Hex for Warners.)

Even if you had read all of Katsuhiro Otomo’s epic 1982 manga and/or seen his own 1988 anime adaptation, summarizing the plot to Akira would still prove a bit of a challenge. As near as we can figure, Akira is about the leader of a biker gang who tries to save his kidnapped pal from a powerful supernatural experiment. (It might also be a psycho-philosophical exploration of corruption, the will to power, and the maturation of man and mankind, but we were actually pretty high when we first saw it in college, so please don’t hold us to that.)

Respecting the source’s complexity (or perhaps acquiescing to it), Warners won’t proceed with a single, live-action remake of the film, which trimmed away the last half of the 2,182-page graphic novel in order to weigh in at just over two hours. Instead, we hear that the studio is planning to make Akira in two parts, with the first three volumes of the six-volume manga making up the first film, due out next year.

An official release from the studio is expected later this week.

Read more: Vulture Exclusive: The Hughes Brothers to Direct the Akira Remake — Vulture