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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: