The Akira synopsis confirms the core story has been completely altered from its original, as the experiment is the only element retained. In addition, character names have not been changed to reflect their new nationality.
"Kaneda (Garret Hedlund) is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother, Tetsuo, is abducted by government agents led by The Colonel (Ken Watanabe). Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join with Ky Reed (Kristen Stewart) 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," the synopsis reads.
"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."
Seriously!? This synopsis is not even close! Akira is about a teenage motorcycle gang, not a bar owner. It covers themes of teenage rebellion, conformity, and government oppression. Mostly, it’s about youth, which, like the other examples I listed, is omitted in the synopsis.
No wonder the casting has seemed so strange for this film all along; Warner Bros. is not even trying to adapt the original work.
One wonders why they even bothered keeping the names of the characters, as, at this stage, it might as well be presented as an entirely original film.
At least that way, the studio wouldn’t have to feel the hot breeze which will undoubtedly arise when the anime communities gets a hold of this information - with all of them crying out in pain at once, just like when the planet Alderaan was destroyed by the Empire’s Death Star.
I had managed to work up some confidence in this film when I first learned that the original author, Katsuhiro Otomo, was working with the producers to ensure accuracy, but clearly something went wrong somewhere.
Akira will begin production shortly, and is expected to hit theaters sometime in 2013.