Apparently Hollywood's casting directors didn't learn anything after the uproar caused by the racialized casting of M. Night Shyamalan's live action remake of the beloved (by me) Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Count yourself lucky if you missed that abysmal fail. The series is set in a very pan-Asian themed world with 4 elemental nations and all of the characters have an Asian appearance. The controversy, in brief, revolved around casting exclusively white actors to play the heroes of the movie and Asians to play the villains. The only exception was Dev Patel as Prince Zuko; I guess at least M. Night had enough sense not to spoil the twist by casting Zuko white.
Why am I talking about a crappy movie from last year? Because Hollywood is at it again.
In case you haven't noticed, Hollywood has run out of original ideas lately. They are voraciously snapping up IPs to remake, even stealing from across the Pacific. Witness: Shall We Dance (loved the original), The Grudge, The Ring, Dark Water (Japanese version only slightly better), The Lake House, Bangkok Dangerous, and The Departed. There was even a rumor that Will Smith and Steven Spielberg were working on an import of Oldboy. Because that movie would work oh so well with American audiences...
Warner Bros. is remaking Akira. I assume the plot will be pulled from the collapsed story of the 1988 anime by Katshuhiro Otomo and not his lengthy manga series. The story will be relocated from Neo-Tokyo to Manhattan and plans to cast Kaneda and Tetsuo with white actors. George Takei posted a tweet on 31 March 2011 complaining about the whitewashing of the cast. The website Racebending jumped in and a petition was sent to Warner Bros. complaining about this re-cast of the same bad casting paradigm. You can read Racebending's article here.
Good news. George Takei tweeted this evening that Warner Bros. has replied to the complaint and is taking the concerns over its casting direction very seriously.
I <3<3<3 Akira. Love the anime. Love the manga. However, I will not watch this movie if they fill every role with white people. That's a promise, Warner Bros.
If you need help, Warner Bros., can I suggest Rinko Kikuchi as Kei? She's already proven she can be a cutie pie with short hair.