Thursday, November 22, 2012

Unused AKIRA Concept Art Featuring Kaneda & Cityscapes Of New Manhattan

Originally posted 11/22/2012 @

Warner Bros. has tried numerous times to make a live-action remake of Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s Akira, so at this time I don’t know which incarnation these are for. What I can tell you is that it was created by Brazilian artist, Rodolfo Damaggio. Check it out!

Just a year ago, Warner Bros. live-action take on Akira, starring Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy), appeared to be moving forward, but several concerns arose that lead to the project being shutdown indefinitely. That version would’ve been directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan), but he isn’t the only director to take a crack at Akira. Before Jaume, there was Albert Hughes (Book Of Eli & From Hell) and even Irish short film director, Ruairi Robinson.

Even though WB has been unsuccessful with their live-action version we at least have some concept art from the defunct project. These new images that have surfaced on Rodolfo Damaggio’s ((Hulk, Iron Man, & Green Lantern) website give us a much better idea of the look of the film, whichever version it was for. There are a trio of cityscapes depicting “New Manhattan” and one of the film’s protagonist, Kaneda. Enjoy!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Platform International Animation Festival Katsuhiro Otomo Interview

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Nov 5th 2012 @


At the Platform International Animation Festival in Los Angeles, Anime News Network had a chance to sit down with legendary director and manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo and ask him a few questions over breakfast.

I wanted to jump right in and ask about your new project that’s going to be starting in Weekly Shonen Sunday. What made you decide to do something for younger audiences?

Actually it’s not decided yet if I’m going to go in Shonen Sunday or not. I’ve been targeting the younger generation since the beginning. Now it seems like as the project is getting more geared towards older audiences. So I’m still considering whether to go with Weekly Shonen Sunday or not.

I see. Is there a rough plan/timeframe for when it will be launched?

Well, actually, it WAS planned to launch this autumn. (laughs) Please don’t ask.

There was one magazine that mentioned that you were actually doing everything yourself without assistance; is that true?


That sounds really tough.

Yes, that’s why it’s taking some time. (laughs)

Moving on to older projects: many of my favorite of your works, such as Roujin Z and The Order to Stop Construction, are satire, a rarity in anime and manga. I was wondering if satire was something you find yourself gravitating towards.

That’s totally depends on the basic idea, itself. Sometimes I get inspiration from the politics, but sometimes I get into more fantasy. Not everything in current events makes for a good story — for example, we had a big earthquake two years ago in Japan. I was very shocked, but despite everything that happened, I’m not convinced anyone will be able to make a good work of fiction out of it. Some artists have already started drawing, but they’ve stuck mostly to accounts of what actually happened in Japan.

Lots of veteran anime creators have talked a bit about the future of anime and manga in Japan and worried about the future. Is that something you think a lot about?

Yeah, I think it’s getting harder and harder to become a director in Japan. Maybe some of the difficulties in the business sphere are coming from the earthquake, and everything else going on there. It’s not easy to get sponsors from the corporate world for creating animation these days.

Is there any hope, are you finding any bright spots in the industry?

Well, in spite of all the difficulties, the animators in Japan are all working hard and doing their best, so there’s hope in that. Beyond that, I don’t pay much attention to the trendy side of the business, so I’m really not the guy to ask.

So, talking about your new work, Combustible, its theme is clearly two young people who are trapped in their society, and their attempts to break free from that trap. What inspired that theme?

The basic theme of the storyline is fairly typical of old Japanese literature, called kabuki or joruri. For example, the story of Yaoya Oshichi is, more or less, the same basic story as Combustible. I wanted to take that old theme that we used to have in Japan 300 years ago, and describe with recent technologies, in anime form.

Read the rest of the interview at http://www.animenews … hiro-otomo-interview

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Combustible (Hi no Yōjin) Review

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Oct 31st 2012 @


Taking place in Edo in the 18th century, Combustible is the story of Owaka, the daughter of a merchant family who leads a lonely childhood, save for the friendship of the troublemaking boy next door Matsukichi. Matsukichi is fascinated by fires — when they occur, they often take out whole neighborhoods in that era, and the brave tattooed men in the fire brigade are tasked with pre-emptively demolishing buildings around the flames before the damage travels too far. Matsukichi gets a tattoo, and having been disowned by his father, he joins the ranks of the firemen.

Owaka, however, is not so lucky. Her parents are busy arranging a marriage for her. Miserable to the point of desperation, and pining for Matsukichi to come rescue her, she accidentally starts a fire of her own.


The storytelling in Combustible is nothing new — in fact, it has its roots in classic Japanese literature of its day. What is new is the novel combination of traditional emakimono — the long panoramic scrolls from which manga is descended — and new digital animation techniques. In the beginning the effect is subtle: the story begins as a pan across one such emakimono, which slowly takes on three dimensions and subtle movement, until we are thoroughly engrossed, and the only the dimmed silk embroidery that letterboxes the screen remains.

Though the tale of youth trying, with varying degrees of success, to break free of their societal constraints is nothing special, Otomo makes it compelling through heavy use of atmospherics and a quick pace. That is to say nothing of the fire itself: explosive, terrifying, and so fast that it’s hard not to think of cities of the era as one gigantic death trap. It’s awe inspiring for its sheer scale and audacity, as much so as any huge towering oddity Otomo has constructed to this point.

Although its short running time precludes the viewer from having a strong emotional connection to either character, Combustible nonetheless makes an impression. The story is familiar enough that it feels as if we’re being told a particularly exciting fairy tale, and even if we know from the onset how it will end, we still dare not look away. -JS

Photos courtesy of Fumi Kitahara, The PR Kitchen. Combustible © “Short Peace” Committee.

Katsuhiro Otomo at Platform International Animation Festival

Originally posted by Justin Sevakis, Oct 31st 2012 @

California Institute of the Arts’ downtown center for the contemporary arts, a section of the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall known as REDCAT, was the setting for a sold-out evening with manga artist and director Katsuhiro Otomo, as part of a new annual animation and art festival entitled Platform. The night would be his first public appearance in North America in 15 years, and the school would be presenting Otomo with the first ever Platform Lifetime Achievement Award.

The crowd, made up mostly of animation students and CalArts alumni, cheered loudly for Otomo, who was brought out briefly for an introduction before his new short film was screened: a 12-minute short entitled “Combustible (Hi no Yōjin),” which will be released later as part of an omnibus feature film entitled “Short Peace”.


After the screening, animation historian Jerry Beck introduced a clip reel of Otomo’s work. Referring to Otomo as one of the “very few game changers in the history of animation,” he credited Akira as having changed the entire perception of the art-form worldwide. The clips presented included several from Akira, the Cannon Fodder segment of Memories, Neo-Tokyo (namely his segment The Order to Stop Construction) and Steamboy.

Otomo was then presented to a round of applause. Along with an interpreter, he sat down with Beck for an interview. The first question was, where did it start for him, in terms of influences?

“I used to love manga as a kid, and wanted to become a manga artist, and when I was in high school I got into movies as well. But being a director was quite a lofty goal, so I decided to become a manga artist instead. The world of manga, as created by Osamu Tezuka in Japan, had its methods rooted in filmmaking, so the two weren’t so different. He was able to move onto making films from that point, as well.”

Beck noticed a thematic pattern in Otomo’s work, of tradition versus new technologies. “I’ve tried to present both sides. I like new things — movies, music, technology and such, but there’s value in the past as well, so I try to be even-handed.”

As for the new film, Combustible, is this the sort of image he had of old Japan? “I really wanted to describe the Edo period in a movie for a long time, but it’s not easy to bring the Edo period to a feature film. Hence, this short project.”

Beck mentioned an earlier conversation with Otomo, where he said it’d be easy for him to get funding for a new Sci-fi film, but that really isn’t what he’s interested in. “Well, sure,” Otomo replied, “but it’s not like it’d be easy to get funding to make Sci-fi either. Recently it’s become very difficult to make sci-fi films as well.” Reflecting on his past sci-fi work, he quipped, “the biggest challenge is that, 20 years ago, no sci-fi had people using cell phones, and now everyone has one. Something so basic to our everyday lives, and we got it wrong. Trying to imagine the future is really tough.”


What were his influences in making The Order to Stop Construction? “It’s a long story. It was from a novel originally. It was the first thing I directed, and the project also involved Rintaro and Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work as well. At the beginning we discussed picking up the stories from short novels, but the other two ended up changing their minds, so I was the only one left adapting fiction.”

As for Akira, was there an immediate demand to bring it to theaters, even before he were done with the manga? “Yes, I was asked to make it, because at the time there was a huge animation production boom. During the manga writing of Akira, I was asked to make it.” Was it given a bigger budget, or was it special in any other way as a production at the time? “We had a huge budget. I don’t remember how I got so much to work with,” he laughed. Was it a big hit in Japan as well? “It wasn’t a huge hit, really. That’s my opinion, but I don’t think it was such a huge hit,” he said with a grin.

What happened afterwards? Did he have lots of producers knocking on his door? “I had quite a few offers, but I had my own list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to make a live action film, and someone asked me to direct one, so I did. And then someone asked me to make Akira 2, which I didn’t want to do. And then Steamboy came a long. And that took many years.”

Was he familiar with the Hollywood remake of Akira that ’s in produciton? “Huh?” he mimed, to the audience’s amusement. “Nope. I work on manga, and I work on animation. There’s no need for me to be involved in that.”

The floor was opened up for audience questions. The first one, after a few false startts, ended up asking his opinion of Looper: “I was really floored by it.” When informed that the director of Looper, Rian Johnson, is a fan of Otomo’s, he said he’d like to meet him. “Is he here?” Beck asked the audience, but there was no response.

Read the rest at http://www.animenews … l-animation-festival

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Opening Scene Storyboards For WB’s Live-Action AKIRA Remake

Originally posted 9/9/2012 @

Warner Bros. live-action version of Akira was shelved due to budget concerns. Now you can take a look at Jeffrey Errico’s unused storyboards for the opening title sequence.

For years Warner Bros. has unsuccessfully tried to adapt Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s Akira for a Hollywood. Last we knew, Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) was set to direct, and Garrett Hedlund was to play the lead role of Kaneda and Twilight’s Kristen Stewart was to play the female lead, Ky. Things fell apart as Warner Bros. wanted to give the film’s $90 million budget another $20 million haircut. Since then the film has been put on the shelf indefinitely. But we can at least check out these storyboards created by Jeffrey Errico, and watch the video below in order to compare the two. Enjoy!

Please keep in mind that these might not have been created for the Jaume Collet-Serra’s version of Akira, as there was two director’s attached to the project previously.


Remake’s Synopsis - Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother, Tetsuo, is abducted by government agents led by The Colonel. Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join with Ky Reed 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. 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.