So, Warner Brothers is making an Akira movie. That's not bad news. If it's a hit, the anime/manga industry may get a lot of good press. But, recent news has made me cringe. The choices for the teenaged Asian lead roles are all Caucasian grown-ups, such as Mr. Shiny himself, Robert Patterson, and will be set in Manhattan. I understand the need to bend the plot for US audiences, but this is ridiculous! First of all the main characters' names are KANEDA and TETSUO. I just get this feeling that the logic at hand is "It's set in the future, so they have STRAAAAAANGE NAAAAAMES", and it makes me want to puke. One cannot even argue that "they look white", because Katsuhiro Otomo's realistic artwork makes the very mistaken thought impossible. Let's take a look at previous anime/manga adaptions that played it safe in similar manners in the past:
- Dragon Ball Evolution: Ingored the source material. Nobody liked it. Box office flop.
- Astro Boy: Pretended to be WALL*E. All viewers indifferent. Box office flop.
- The Last Airbender: Not anime, but rooted in anime and asian history. M. Night Shyamalan didn't know this, and cast caucasians. Movie stunk. Box office hit.
Racebending.com has started a virtual petition via Facebook from now till July 20 to stop Warner Bros' whitewashing of Akira. As I write this, 6897 people (UPDATE: Numbers now surpass 19 000), including myself, have joined the cause. Feel free to join as well.