Akira is a Japanese manga series written by Katsuhiro Otomo. It ran in Young Magazine from 1982-1990, and spans 2,182 pages. The series also spawned a 1988 animated film that is often regarded as one of the greatest animated films in history.
In 1992, an explosion occurs in Tokyo that triggers World War III. The story picks up in 2030 Neo-Tokyo, which was built over the ruins of Tokyo. Kaneda and Tetsuo are friends that are in a biker gang. One night, they encounter a strange child that Tetsuo almost crashes into. Afterward, Tetsuo begins to display psychic powers.
Interest had been shown in making Akira into a live-action film. Otomo had known people in the industry and decided to do it. Akira had a production budget of about $9 million dollars, the largest for an animated film in Japan at the time. It was also the first Japanese animation in which the voices were recorded before production began. In 1989, Streamline Pictures produced an english dub for the film.
In the late '80's to early '90's, Akira had been shown in arthouse cinemas in the west. For many western fans, Akira was their first foray into anime. The film would also be shown on the Sci-Fi Channel, albeit heavy parental warnings.
In 2001, Pioneer Entertainment restored the film, as well as an all-new dub for the film.
For years, movie studios have shown interest in making a live-action version of Akira. However, it has been shot down for many reasons. These range from production costs to not being able to adapt the movie properly, due to the heavy east-asian culture in the film. A fear of whitewashing characters has also been a reason.