4K News: Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Akira' Announced for UHD

Manga artist turned filmmaker Katsuhiro Otomo arguably was the first one to bridge the gap between East Asia and the Western United States with his groundbreaking Japanese animated feature film Akira.  Based upon the director’s own celebrated manga series of the same name, the 1988 anime epic was the longest running animated feature passing the two hour mark and among the most expensive to produce.  Widely regarded as the film which introduced audiences around the world to anime, Otomo’s futuristic, ultraviolent epic spoken of the same breath as Metropolis or Blade Runner is equally revered by fans of the film for its technical bravura and derided by purists who felt it was an abbreviation of the original manga series.

Last Thursday at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California, shortly after word surfaced Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi would be helming the long-awaited live action adaptation of Akira, Mr. Otomo himself dropped some news that will undoubtedly cause fans of the animated film and the manga to rejoice.  Firstly, Otomo announced he would be overseeing a brand new series production set to encompass the entirety of the original manga Akira, finally putting to bed complaints about the film only presenting a Cliffnotes version of the story.  Secondly, a trailer with a date set for April 24th, 2020 announced a new 4K restoration sourced from the original 35mm negative and will be returning to theaters before coming to UHD in a limited collector’s edition to be released in Japan.  Lastly, Otomo announced he will begin production on a new feature film project as well entitled Orbital Era. 

With Akira having recently reached its 30th Anniversary, the news arrives on the heels of the news of Taika Waititi’s involvement with the live action project and represents a major development for both Akira and 4K UHD fans.  Still an arresting and gorgeous looking and sounding piece of motion picture art, Akira remains an important chapter in cinema history and this forthcoming digital restoration offers longtime fans and newcomers to experience Katsuhiro Otomo’s grandiose epic as they never have before!

- Andrew Kotwicki