Asian Americans ask Warner Bros. to reconsider casting white actors in 'Akira'
Word that a new Hollywood-style live-action production of Katsuhiro Otomo's seminal manga and anime masterpiece Akira will be set in New York and feature and all-Caucastian lead cast doesn't sit well with some Asian-Americans. And it's not just because the story -- about the pressure of conformity, government secrecy and the destruction of Tokyo -- is quintessentially Japanese to begin with.
Asian-American advocacy website RaceBending.com and several community organizations recently sent letters to Warner Bros. Pictures Group prexy Jeff Robinov and Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, pointing out that perhaps a movie about Asians should, you know, feature an Asian cast.
"Because Asian Americans are present in every major city in the United States, there is no need to change the ethnicity of the main characters while resetting this story to Manhattan," a letter stated. "One out of ten Manhattan residents are Asian American and at 41% of the population, Asian Americans are the largest racial group in Lower Manhattan. Casting white actors for Asian lead characters will reinforce a glass ceiling and reduce opportunities for Asian American actors."
If appealing to the companys’ intellects by noting Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix would make terrible choices for Kaneda or Tetsuo (okay, Phoenix could probably pull it off) isn’t enough, they add that 15 million Asian Americans comprise $700 billion in spending power. That’s more likely to get attention, but don’t forget all the anime nerds who want to see it in the first place, regardless of race, and think it’s just a bad idea all around.