Concept art for Chris Evans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Akira is shockingly cool

i09 (by Rob Bricken):

The idea of a live-action American remake of the seminal anime movie Akira has always seemed like a disaster in the making to me, and the fact that the movie has languished in various forms of development hell seems to corroborate that idea. But after seeing this concept art of Chris Evans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Kaneda and Tetsuo roles, I almost want to change my mind.

The art comes from director Ruairí Robinson, who was attached in one of the film’s many, many incarnations. Apparently, he shared it back in 2014, but it was Bloody Disgusting who let the rest of the internet know, and I thank them, because look at this:

Robinson has several more pics and storyboards here, if you’re so inclined. And, if you start feeling like you’re truly sad the world was robbed of this adaptation, it’s worth remembering that awesome concept art does not a quality film make (although it certainly helps). Also, JGL’s Tetsuo was going to be named “Travis,” so I wouldn’t necessarily shed any tears.

Cinematic photographs of Tokyo at night by Masashi Wakui

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.35.37 PM

This Is Collossal (by Christopher Jobson):

Tokyo is an infinitely photogenic city. And there’s no shortage of photographers capturing its vibrant landscape. But local resident and photography aficionado Masashi Wakui has a unique, surreal style of capturing Tokyo by night and making it look like an animated still from Akira or a Ghibli film.

Wakui has a penchant for the backstreets of Tokyo, specifically those with plenty of lanterns, streetlights and neon signs that only add to the surreal, cinematic quality of the scene. And those who have spent any number of nights wandering these streets will find Wakui’s photos achingly captivating.

Once the scene is captured Wakui then digitally manipulates the image, giving it a color grading effect that works perfectly with his busy nighttime cityscapes. There are tutorials that have even sprouted up, analyzing the “Masashi Wakui Look,” as its been coined. Wakui himself even points to one, admitting it’s close but not perfect.

You can see many more of Wakui’s photos on Flickr, where he constantly posts new work. (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.35.41 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.05 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.08 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.10 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.12 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.37.13 PM

 

 

‘Bartkira’ trailer seamlessly mashes ‘Akira’ with ‘The Simpsons’

A while ago the Bartkira manga series launched as a collaborative project to recreate Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga series Akira with The Simpsons characters and landmarks. Now, with the help of over 50 artists, creator Ryan Humphrey, cartoonist James Harvey, and producer Kaitlin Sullivan have released an animated theatrical trailer that is completely accurate frame-by-frame to the original Akira movie trailer that is more an impressive feat of animation than it is a parody.

The short video features Bart as the protagonist Kaneda, leader of The Capsules skateboard gang who wind the streets of fictional Neo-Springfield, along with Milhouse as the antagonist Tetsuo, Principal Skinner as Colonel Shikishima, Lisa as Kiyoko the Esper, and more. The creative project has been and continues to be fully executed with no affiliation to Fox or any other companies that legally own the rights to both series. Fans can actively collaborate to the project via online submissions to contribute to the comic series.

You can read the first three Bartkira volumes online for free.

Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s sprawling mural will soon welcome travelers at Sendai Airport

l_rmfig178-13

RocketNews 24:

Surely any list of Japan’s greatest animators and directors must include Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind the likes of Akira, Domu, and Steamboy. Otomo’s distinctive mix of neo-futurism, cyberpunk, and dark humor has earned him both a legion of fans and numerous accolades throughout the world.

We mentioned in a previous article that Otomo would be designing a giant mural for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport. Now it looks like the wait is almost over. The 12-ton mural, which depicts a squat, bespectacled boy sitting astride a cybernetic carp flanked by the gods of wind and lightning, will be unveiled on March 12, one day after the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Working off Otomo’s original illustration, CREARE Atami-Yugawara Studio fired 451 individual clay parts to produce the final product. At 2.8 meters high and 8.7 meters wide, the relief will no doubt make even the busiest traveller stop and marvel at its sheer size and artistry.

▼ A look at the design process

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.49.27 PM

▼ This thing really is quite spectacular

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 2.15.58 PM

Fans of Otomo’s work will recognize some of his visual motifs in the form of the cybernetic carp. Equally striking is the expression of defiance on the young rider’s face–a tribute to the people of Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered extensive damage in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Regarding his motivations behind the project, Otomo was recently quoted as saying: “I hope it will spark children’s interest and serve as an opportunity for them to discuss the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath with their parents.”

Travelers within Japan might soon be making a point of passing through Sendai Airport, if only to catch a glimpse of the impressive mural.

A brief history of Hollywood trying — and mostly failing — to adapt anime

edge-of-tomorrow

A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?

Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.

One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:

The GuyverOne of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.

A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.

Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.

Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.

The MatrixWhile, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.

The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.

Stronger: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.

Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.

Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.

Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.

Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.

[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]

While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.

But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.

Shohei Otomo brings the gritty side of Japan to vivid life with a mere ballpoint pen

RocketNews 24:

Shohei Otomo can sometimes be found simply under the working name “Shohei.” That might possibly have been an effort to downplay his heritage, because when your father is responsible for some of the most influential manga and anime ever it can be hard to get looked at as an individual.

However, outside of a certain degree of edginess and high degree of Akira and Domu,creator Katsuhiro Otomo and his son each stand alone with their respective arts. Shohei has the unique gift of creating a provocative illustration using only a ballpoint with such a level of detail and texture that you can get lost in them.

He’s posted a series of time-lapse YouTube videos showing him at his craft which is a spectacle almost as impressive as the drawings themselves.

The characters he creates all have a blend of realism and comic-book aesthetics that make them look capable of either something hideous and gritty or something magical and surreal. Cops with gnarled faces and rocket-powered geisha are but a few of his beautifully textured and shaded works.

They’re so deeply detailed that it’d be hard to believe that he did all of it with ballpoint pens alone. He probably figured that too, which might be why Shohei has several videos showing him at work in high-speed. Here are a few.

 

Backwoods Gallery presents Shohei Otomo, illustrator and son of “Akira” creator:

Being the son of Katsuhiro Otomo, a significant Japanese manga artist who created the world-famous animated film ”Akira,” it is no wonder that Shohei Otomo would himself also gain international recognition as an artist through his signature ballpoint pen illustrations. Otomo’s artwork portrays the realness of the Japanese society consisting of a mix of traditional Japanese and pop-culture that is fused with twisted elements of violence and vulgarity.

Backwoods Gallery presents a short video that was shot in the lead up to Otomo’s latest exhibition “Flat Blend,” showing insights of the artist’s hometown of Tokyo being the main inspiration to his artwork.

Check out this video to find out the motifs behind Otomo’s artwork, more of which can be found here.