I became sad to learn that a live-action, Americanized, mostly or entirely white remake of Akira is still under way at Warner Bros., and was moved to watch the original 1988 film adaptation again. Conciseness is not ordinarily one of my hobbies, but in half-assed deference to editorial mandate, I will attempt to gloss over numerous interesting points I would otherwise make on this subject.
In my day, young people weren't stupid like they are now, and Japanese things were the exclusive province of the cultural elite, like myself, who studied roughly implemented samizdat translations of Final Fantasy V. In these peaceful days when gopher servers were giving way to the world wide web, I relied on the CD-ROM database Cinemania '94 to prop up my love of world cinema. Ephraim Katz's Film Encyclopedia, Pauline Kael... happy days. Anyways, Pauline, Ebert, and Maltin agreed a sophisticated sensibility like my own should seek out the film Akira, from the then obscure genre of Japanese animation. Their computerized advice was good. I was only familiar with Akira from Marvel Comics' effort to sell the 2000 page sprawler to American audiences. Imagine! Selling Japanese comic books to Americans!
As to the quality of Akira's original film version in the modern day, it's still awesome. It's very briskly paced despite being over two hours long, but deal with it. If you are interested further in the subject, fucking grow up and watch Akira. I'm not here to tell you how to like things, I'm here to spout off about nothing and complain about a movie that hasn't been made yet for having too many white people.
The strategy of Americanizing characters has previously been deployed in the film The Last Airbender, a martial arts adventure with no interest in Asian people. Akira is about post-nuclear life, which is a rather Japanese hobby. Perhaps in addition to Americanizing the characters, the plot will change the nuclear apocalypse to financial mismanagement. A narrower resentment of Japanese people but not other East Asian cultures resulted in the remake of The Karate Kid, which is not as bad as The Last Airbender but is still pretty bad. Lesson: film quality is strongly correlated to involvement of East Asian cultures.
Damn it, Hollywood. If you insist on being racist against the Japanese, which is lame, can't you at least bring Sung Kang and Justin Lin in on this? Maybe Bobby Lee in a small role? Fuck the haters, Bobby Lee is funny.