A new casting call for Taika Waititi’s live-action Akira movie based on the fan-favorite anime and manga has confirmed that Warner Bros. and Taika will indeed be casting young Asian talent for the film. After multiple previous incarnations of the film tried to whitewash the characters and story.
Taika suggesting in interviews he would be looking at hiring Asian talent for lead roles and would be adapting the manga instead of the anime flick.
The working title of Akira will indeed be Box 28, which has been making the rounds for a while now.
Here are the casting calls as posted by Backstage.
We can be confident in saying that these roles are specifically for Kaneda (Jun), Tetsuo (Koichi), Kei (Misa), Kaori (Reina), Yamagata (Takamatsu), Kaisuke (Yuki) along with the Espers known as Kiyoko aka No.25 and Masaru aka No.27.
JUN: Male, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-20’s to play 18: Sharp-eyed, sinewy, tough, handsome, cool. He is the leader of a street gang of teenagers & knows how to have a good time. JUN should not be too cool or too tough. He’s a scrappy, ragtag kid who’s not worried about anything. Your weird, natural authentic self is encouraged! LEAD.
KOICHI: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-20’s to play 17: Constantly forced to punch up in order to survive. He’s fearless to the point of recklessness. He is haunted by the loss of a loved one. LEAD.
MISA: Female, 18-30 Female, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-30: Beautiful, intelligent, strong-willed. She is a member of an anti-government organization trying to save her city. LEAD.
REINA: Female, 18-24 Female, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 17: Gentle, kind, cute, compassionate. She is a member of a biker gang & cares deeply for Koichi. SUPPORTING LEAD.
TAKAMATSU: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 18: Large, tough, loyal, short-fused. A member of Jun’s gang & a close friend. SUPPORTING LEAD.
YUKI: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 16: A small, clever, brainy technical wiz, he is the youngest member of Jun’s street gang. SUPPORTING LEAD.
GEN: Male, 10-12. Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus), age 10: A small, mysterious boy on an urgent mission; he is humble, shy, compassionate & wise beyond his years. SUPPORTING LEAD.
The adult roles aren’t mentioned because those would likely go to seasoned actors through their agency.
This would confirm that Akira will indeed keep the Japanese roots intact.
Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the original story revolves around a teen, Tetsuo, who discovers he has powerful telekinetic abilities that threaten the world. Once a member of a biker gang, the only person who seems to be able to stop the all-powerful and dangerous teen is his childhood friend and gang leader, Kaneda.
While it has been rumored that filming would begin next month in Los Angeles, this casting call doesn’t have shooting dates included. However, if they’re still doing opening castings for a bulk of the leads roles that isn’t likely going to happen as they’ll need more time to etch-out rehearsals and motorcycle/weapons/stunt training.
Warner Bros. has given Akira an official release date of May 21st, 2021.