With an All-Caucasian Akira Short List, How Will Hollywood Americanize the Characters' Names?

Get ready for some more Last Airbender-style controversy! Deadline has posted an alleged short list of actors competing for the leads in the adaptation of the beloved Japanese Manga and Anime Akira and... they are all white. Yes, a group of Hollywood's hottest Caucasian actors are all competing for the roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda. But if they're really going this route, those names are going to have to change... right?

As of now, scripts are apparently out to Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy for the role of Tetsuo, and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix for the role of Kaneda. Fans are probably already a little irked not only by the race issue, but by the fact that almost all of these actors are way older than the characters in the original Manga. Also, many are probably dreading the day they see posters for Akira, starring Robert Pattinson and Justin Timberlake.

We've already weighed in on color blind casting and pointed out that the outrage is sometimes bafflingly selective. So I really don't have much to add on the controversy front.

Sure, it's another predictable and safe decision on Hollywood's part, which is always a little disappointing. But the fact that the remake changes the setting from "Neo-Tokyo" to "New Manhattan" already signaled this direction, and it's really not too different from what Hollywood already does with every other foreign remake.

But still, Robert Pattinson as Tetsuo? Keeping the original names of the characters while casting totally white actors would be like spitting in the face of those who are already outraged. But will Hollywood still attempt to "pay homage" to the original names in spite of the fact that they are changing everything else? If so, it's going to be a bit difficult. Nonetheless, here are some guesses as to how they might Americanize the existing names. Feel free to post your own. As you can see, partial anagrams are acceptable.

Ted and Ken

Pretty obvious.

Stet and Dek

It's the future! Who knows what people are named in New Manhattan!

Stet and Net

See above.

Tuts and Dan

If they don't go with this combo, I propose someone make a wacky buddy comedy with the same title.

Mr. T and Mr. K

This might still be a problem because of the controversy that will surely ensue over a white actor playing the role of Mr. T.

Tetsuo Jones and Kaneda Smith

Each had liberal, bourgeois parents who lived in Japan for a while.

Iron Husband and Golden Rice Field

According to the internet, these are the meanings of each Japanese family name. If anyone has more expertise in Japanese than the website I consulted, feel free to correct me. Anyway, since motorcycle gangs are involved here, nicknames are probably allowed.

· Akria Focuses on Short List of Actors after Getting Steve Kloves Rewrite [Deadline]


  • The Winchester says:

    Riggs and Murtaugh.

  • Yamagata says:

    Vilanch and Franco

  • Tikki says:

    The first draft of this script was reviewed ages ago by Latino Review. It's Kaneda and Travis, I think. Honestly.

  • Brian Clark says:

    According to Deadline, they're rewriting it.
    Travis is a pretty funny choice though.

  • Marissa Lee says:

    Hi Brian,
    This is Marissa Lee, one of the co-founders of Racebending.com. I wanted to let you know that on Tuesday, March 29th, Racebending.com and over eight Asian American community organizations voiced concerns about the casting process for AKIRA and other upcoming Warner Bros. productions. The organizations are requesting a meeting with the studio and these productions.
    A letter Racebending.com sent to Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov was signed with support from several Asian American community organizations. A similar letter was also sent to the office of Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures. You can read more about it in the article posted on our website, here: http://www.racebending.com/v4/featured/asian-american-community-reaches-out-to-warner-bros-about-akira/
    I know that in previous articles you've expressed concerns about our "bafflingly selective" outrage about incidences of racebending. I understand that it can seem that way to someone who does not actively follow our website or social networking communities, where we have repeatedly expressed our outrage about films like "The Social Network," particularly director David Fincher's comments about the casting of Max Minghella as Divya Narendra. With The Social Network this was further complicated by the fact that Narendra appeared to endorse Minghella's casting, and that Minghella seemed to be playing a supporting bit character.
    We do have a very small, all-volunteer staff and limited resources, which affects our ability to be everywhere at once. We're grateful to see media outlets like Movieline cover issues like these to help ease the burden and get the word out. If we are not covering certain issues to your satisfaction, it is definitely not because of apathy. If there are battles that you feel we should be fighting, that we might not be aware of, please let us know.

  • niko says:

    This is stupid. Look at the original characters and tell me they look asian.
    You should first ask anime studios to assume their origins and make THEIR OWN characters look asian before asking hollywood to do that for them...