Akira, one of the most beloved manga series in the history of anime, will be made into a live-action film. Directed by Taika Waititi and produced by Appian Way, a production house spearheaded by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film will adapt Katsuhiro Otomo’s futuristic sci-fi series into a feature flick scheduled to be released on May 21, 2021.
Starring roles have yet to be announced, although plans are said to feature an entire cast of Asian actors. All the details sound great on paper, but the film will need a true leading male to give the main character Shōtarō Kaneda the proper comic-to-cinema transition in order to turn this one into an instant classic. In our opinion, only one guy has both the heritage and A-list star power to make it come to life: Keanu Reeves!
While the longtime action star is currently on the scene promoting the newly-released John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, there’s a good argument to be made as to why he should play a role that’s been in talks since the OG anime film first released in 1988, or even earlier to when it was a Young Magazine column back in 1982.
Keep scrolling to see 10 good reasons why Keanu Reeves would make the perfect Kaneda if he were to star in the upcoming Akira remake. Fingers crossed!
10. His Asian Ancestry
The biggest request from many manga fans in regards to the Akira remake is that the cast be as authentic to Asian culture as possible — basically, don’t Exodus: Gods and Kings this one up! While Keanu comes from a very mixed background, being born in Beirut and raised everywhere from Australia to Canada, his biological Chinese-Hawaiian father gives him the Asian roots necessary to pull off a role like this. His paternal grandmother raised him around the culture, which Keanu described once by stating, “My grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, so I was around Chinese art, furniture and cuisine when I was growing up,” even saying of his upbringing, “I also liked animé and kung fu movies—so, yeah, I was exposed to Asian culture since I was a kid.” Man, do we have a role for you fam!
9. He Can Lead a Action-Packed Blockbuster Like No Other
If the Matrix franchise didn’t solidify him as a certified action hero — nope; that’s it! Keanu’s stint playing “The One” proved better than any example we can put out there that he was pretty much made for a role like Akira‘s lead protagonist & savior Shōtarō Kaneda. Of course, an all-Asian cast would be ideal, but a lead star with theatrical notoriety would give this film the attention it so deserves. Besides, we’re sure Reeves is down to don a fly leather jacket and ride a speeding motorcycle through metropolitan streets once again.
8. He Actually Looks a Lot Like Kaneda
While anime characters haven’t always gotten the best representation when it comes to the rules of remakes — see: Scarlett Johansson as “Major” in Ghost in the Shell — it wouldn’t be completely off to cast Keanu in the role of a Japanese character that he shares a lot of facial similarities to. The clean face, fair skin, dark hair and stoic stare are all in place to make for a breakout performance that’ll surely pop off the pages of a graphic novel.
7. He’s Already Been Animated on Film Before
Remember A Scanner Darkly? The Richard Linklater-directed thriller was a game-changer when it released back in 2006, mixing sci-fi and suspense over 2D rotoscope animation. While it’s considered more of a cult classic than a Blockbuster smash, the idea of Keanu retuning to the animated realm is pretty enticing and definitely worth a second shot. Just…well, we can do without Cockroach Downey Jr. this time around.
6. Taika Waititi’s Reworks To the Script Allows For an Age Change
While Kaneda’s character description in the original manga lists him as a 16-year-old standing at 5’5,” the live-action remake’s director Taika Waititi — his creds include Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming dark comedy Jojo Rabbit — is making a few noticeable switch-ups. According to a recent report by Production Weekly, the plot will move from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan and feature Kaneda as a bar owner. Unless the future lets off on the 21-and-over drinking age limit, we doubt a 16-year-old would be running a bar in futuristic NYC. Even though Keanu would be 56 by the time the film drops on 2021, he doesn’t look a day over 35 on a good day.
5. He Can 100% Pull Off Kaneda’s Sense of Fashion
One of the key factors to getting the right person to play Kaneda is making sure they have the swag to pull off some of the main character’s most iconic looks. The red leather pill jacket? The one-of-a-kind motorcycle and the goggles to match? Too much sauce! All you have to do is watch a few of Keanu’s greatest leading roles — skip Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for now — or peep his recent Saint Laurent FW19 campaign to see why he’s the one that can get the steez down pat.
4. Keanu Already Has a Strong Anime Fanbase
The amount of people that want to see Keanu Reeves play Spike Spiegel in the Cowboy Bebop live-action remake is a cult following in itself, which has been growing since the star was first tied to the project as early as 2008. While that project is finally headed to Netflix, and Harold & Kumar star John Cho is the new fan-favorite for the lead role according to Variety, it gives Keanu the green-light to star in Akira, which is sure to equally please anime fans just as much.
3. He Has the Time In His Schedule. Kinda.
So far, Keanu only has two films scheduled to be released in 2019, including one Netflix film scheduled to drop this Friday and a cameo in Toy Story 4 which arrives on June 21. Then there’s a Bill & Ted Face the Music sequel (seen above) scheduled for 2020 and John Wick 4 arriving in 2021. Unless Keanu decides to take a well-deserved break, we see a nice chunk of time sometime later this year or in early 2020 to squeeze in Akira. Hard work would definitely pay off in this case, for all of us!
2. Keanu Was Born to Play the Antihero Archetype
From Point Break and Speed to Street Kings and 47 Ronin, ask yourself this: when hasn’t Keanu Reeves played a morally right character that takes the dark path to salvation? Not to say that he’s a typecast actor — OK, now go and check out Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure! — but he simply just is amazing at being the antihero. Whether or not a described “antiheroic, brash, carefree delinquent” fits that bill is arguable, we definitely can see it working out.
1. John! Wick!
The only other role aside from his previously-mentioned stint as Neo in the Matrix movies that officially qualifies Keanu Reeves as the perfect Kaneda is his titular role in the John Wick series. You can catch him reprising the character in the latest sequel John Wick: Chapter 3, but his performance in the series as a whole makes the perfect argument as to why he needs to spearhead another beloved franchise. Granted, all this is probably null and void since John Wick 4 is already scheduled to release on the same day as Akira, but who’s to say that he can’t have two big movies at the box office at the same time? Make it happen, Keanu — you’re the one!
Could you see Keanu Reeves playing Kaneda in the Akira live-action remake? Let us know if you agree, and if not give us some suggestions by sounding off on our Twitter and Facebook!