If the Akira Movie Goes Exclusively White, Will You Boycott It?

23 Comments

Or if not exclusively, then primarily with a main white cast?

The folks at Racebending.com are taking a stand against Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Akira”, their live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga/anime of the same name. Of particularly annoyance is the recent casting search for the film’s two male leads, Kaneda and Tetsuo (I’m personally expecting those names to change by the time the film starts production), all the candidates for which are Caucasian with nary an Asian face among them.

Here’s an excerpt from their letter to Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov (you can read the full letter here):

The Asian American community was excited to see Warner Bros. pursue three projects based on Japanese properties: Akira, All You Need is Kill, and Death Note. Our organizations are writing to request that Warner Bros give Asian American actors fair and equal consideration for first-billed roles in these three films.

In the United States, Asian Americans represent over 15 million media consumers and counting. Our spending power will grow to more than $700 billion by the time AKIRA is released in 2013. Despite this, our community remains an untapped market. From the silent picture era and even to this day, we continue to face a glass ceiling when it comes to accessing first-billed roles in Hollywood.

The group is seeking a meeting with Robinov, or at least someone over at Warner Bros. to voice their concerns. It’s probably all for naught, though, because “Akira” is just not that well known to most Americans that I don’t see the threat of a boycott getting much press, which is what you’d need to get any type of concessions at all from Warner Bros.

But the question remains: if “Akira” remains essentially “Akira”, with the same character names and trappings, but played by white guys, will you boycott it?

Maybe Warner Bros. can ask this guy to audition:

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • Marc Ohhhh

    Hell yeah I’ll boycott it. Nothing against white people, but at least try to find an appropriate person who portrays the characters from the stories. Dammitttt.

    Don’t want another Dragon Ball Z.

  • Vampelle

    definitively.
    NO MORE ANIME TURN INTO ALL WHITE CAST. OR THE MAIN CASTS AS WHITE OR BLACK, IF THEY ARE NOT IN THE ANIMES OR ASIAN MANGA COMICS.
    Just the way they did with Dragon Ball live action, Fist of the north star and so on.

    Stop ruining everything.

  • meta

    I’m Chinese and I have no problem with it. I just don’t see a causality between the the faithfulness of an adaptation and quality of the movie itself. For every example of bad adaptations I’m sure you can find a counter example if you just looked for it.

    Unless the race/nationality of the characters plays a critical role in the story, which in this case it doesn’t, there’s no reason you can’t alter it as long as it is treated in a respectable manner, i.e., no racial stereotype caricatures. I highly doubt they are going to use Caucasian actors and retain the Japanese names. If that ended up being the case it would make me more worried about the rest of the movie than actors’ race.

    If some Chinese movie studio decided to adapt an American movie for the Chinese audience, and a group of Caucasians living in China decide to boycott the movie because only Chinese actors were used, I’d find that to be pretty outrageous and maybe a little racist. Ok so there are a lot less Caucasians in China than there are Asians in US, but 15 million out of over 300 million total population I’d say that’s still a minority.

    Rather than boycotting it, I hope this movie is handled by talented people who are not fettered by stuff like what race the actors should be and end up being just a good movie that can stand on its own. As long as they give credit where credit is due, maybe it’ll even inspire more people to look up the anime it was based on and expose them to the wonder of anime they otherwise wouldn’t have known.

  • Robdealer

    Im white, from the UK. I am dreading what they will do with this movie.. I still love Manga from my childhood and would much rather see them case Asian or American-Asian actors that resemble as close as possible the icons from the film! As long as the language is English why do they care so much.. Kaneda was sick and they need to do him justice!

  • http://www.key-pixel.com Covax

    Thing is if they compromise on the race, what else are they compromising on? The script? The music? The editing?

    Last Airbender is another example. Sucky casting was just the start.

  • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

    I’m against it for most anime adaptations simply because the source material is usually heavily steeped in the culture. that said this is one of the few that the culture isnt the center of the story but the politics and science and humanity are. Those are universal ideas. However I don’t think they should go all white. I think if anything they should go multicultural. I again bring up my “Firefly/Serenity” analogy. Where the world has become corporate and Japan and the US united. Then you could have the two main characters around them be Japanese-American and everyone else could be of a different race.

  • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

    I’m against it for most anime adaptations simply because the source material is usually heavily steeped in the culture. that said this is one of the few that the culture isnt the center of the story but the politics and science and humanity are. Those are universal ideas. However I don’t think they should go all white. I think if anything they should go multicultural. I again bring up my “Firefly/Serenity” analogy. Where the world has become corporate and Japan and the US united. Then you could have the two main characters around them be Japanese-American and everyone else could be of a different race.

  • Chinese in America

    If you’re going to spend $10+ millions (small project) in a movie, you really want a bankable star. I’m not downer, but currently there are NOT many break out young Asian male actor that can draw or appeal to international audience for this role. I’ve not seen any Asian star since Bruce Lee (still the greatest) that busted out Hollywood movies in 70’s.
    So, if the lead guy can deliver the goods, I don’t really care if he’s an Asian, White, Hispanic, Black or Green.

    • Anonymous

      If Bruce Lee is your standard…then you’re really not talking about acting. An action star with acting chops is a little different from a great actor who looks like as if he has been an action star all his life.

      WB just needs to take a chance like AMC did with Steven Yeun and The Walking Dead. Even though lazy ass WB are already thinking about rebooting the reboot of Batman, they should at least try to find new break out stars who are Asian.

      I probably won’t boycott Akira, but I definitely won’t stop flaming Hollywood for bastardizing classics from Asia and taking credit for it. Jenny, Juno?

  • imrickjamesbitch

    I think this is a stupid argument. Most characters in anime are inspired by Hollywood characters (how many characters that are pilots in a manga series look and act exactly like Maverick from top gun?), and many physical features used are associated with Caucasian people. For example looking at sailormoon I don’t think I have ever seen a naturally blue eyed blond haired Japanese person. Dragonball is also a poor reason to complain, one it should have never been made into a live action movie and two their world doesn’t look nor function like ours at all so anyone is fair game. They of course put these characters within Japanese culture but that’s because it’s what they know, I always thought it was funny how in shows like Ranma a Chinese person is clearly drawn with features to make them look asian where the characters from Japan look much more European.

    • Anonymous

      yes I agree, you did make a stupid argument.

      • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

        Actually he made good points. Very good points. As a huge anime fan and advocate for adaptations he has pretty much hit the nail on the head. It goes along with my statement earlier about culture playing into story. If it’s a major part of the story then yes the race matters, but if not it can still be done. But that being said I’d rather them not touch this, its a huge task and one that will either be rushed or just done badly. But I also agree with what you said below, if they have to make this and change so much just put “Inspired by” in the title.

        Oh and yeah I agree Dragonball should never have been made. It’s too over the top with some of the visuals. That said it didnt have to be as bad as it was though, they didnt even put any good martial arts in it. I didnt need huge explosions but damn at least give me a good end fight.

        • imrickjamesbitch

          Thanks Dedpool, and I definitely agree that dragonball could have been done just not by any Hollywood studio. Now that I think about it some of the fights scenes in the Matrix trilogy are proof that it can be done, but would the right people be interested? not so much as it would cost a fortune. I really don’t want them doing Akira but I thought I would put my 2 cents on the fact that both cultures borrow from each other. Someone did make a great point though in saying that Rain would be really good in this, also Sung Kang from fast and the furious Tokyo drift (the one that died) would be cool in this.

          • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

            They would be perfect. Like I said make it a Japanese/American corp run world, set it in “Neo Manhattan” like they want and then have a multi cultural cast, asian, caucasian,

            Sent on the go.

    • Anonymous

      yes I agree, you did make a stupid argument.

  • Anonymous

    If WB was smarter, they’d completely change the title of the movie and say it’s based on off Katsuhiro Otomo’s work. Just don’t call it fucking Akira and expect fans to jump on board. Do they not remember remaking Infernal Affairs.