STAR TREK Star George Takei Accuses Warner Bros. of Whitewashing AKIRA

STAR TREK Star George Takei Accuses Warner Bros. of Whitewashing AKIRA

George Takei is best known as Sulu in Star Trek. He was at the Pacific Media Expo, and he blasted the Leonardo Dicaprio produced Akira for considering Caucasian actors for the lead.

Video Uploaded by kristiehang

Actor George Takei speaks out on the controversial casting of Akira. "Why spend so much money on buying the rights of the film if they are just going to change everything?" - George Takei

George has not been shy about his concerns for the American remake of Katsuhiro Otomo's classic manga, Akira. In April, George began chirping quite a bit when early word came out that Warner Bros. was considering Caucasian actors for Kaneda. In an interview with the Advocate George was asked about the controversy.

"The idea of buying the rights to do that and in fact change it seems rather pointless. If they’re going to do that, why don’t they do something original, because what they do is offend Asians, number 1; number 2, they offend the fans. The same thing happened with M. Night Shyamalan. He cast his project [The Last Airbender] with non-Asians and it’s an Asian story, and the film flopped." - Advocate

To be fair M. Night Shymalan's The Last Airbender was not even close to being a flop. The film cost a reported $280 million to make and market, and grossed $450 million dollars altogether from domestic and worldwide receipts. The film was trashed by the critics and adults. But, children seemed to enjoy it, and that is whom the movie was made for.

Manga's Synopsis - Set in New Manhattan, the cyberpunk sci-fi epic follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments.
Posted By:
Member Since 7/12/2010
Filed Under "Anime & Manga" 12/2/2011 Source:
DISCLAIMER: is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
1 2 3 4
Anthrax - 12/2/2011, 6:27 PM
YEAH![frick] warner bros for green lantern and for the upcoming akira
RorMachine - 12/2/2011, 6:31 PM
I understand the thing about buying the rights and then changing stuff for no good reason but I just don't get this..

"what they do is offend Asians, number 1; number 2, they offend the fans. The same thing happened with M. Night Shyamalan. He cast his project [The Last Airbender] with non-Asians and it’s an Asian story, and the film flopped."

How is buying the rights to an Asian story and remaking it OFFENSIVE to Asians? I believe WB have bought the rights to an Irish Movie called The Snapper. If they remake that is it "offensive" to Irish people? Is the American Shameless tv show offensive to Brits? No is the answer.

sweetre15 - 12/2/2011, 6:32 PM
@Firgielicious: if I gay actor has more film business type integrity than a whole film studio than what does that say about them?
headlopper - 12/2/2011, 6:32 PM
Is he Asian or gay?
SunfireUrA55 - 12/2/2011, 6:39 PM
I agree with you George, but you're still a .F.A.G!
headlopper - 12/2/2011, 6:39 PM
^^^ Thanks!
robometrallador - 12/2/2011, 6:40 PM
[frick] yeah theyre going to [frick] it up, [frick]in warner brothers
animeex - 12/2/2011, 6:41 PM
I agree. They buy the rights and ruin the flicks but count on the name to get customers. I have talked with people about how the movies are done over seas. He said they do it cheaper and faster. Why not a colaberation of the two. Let them do the flick but add effects and some help from the US. I can name several movies made that make ours look bad. Take the new Iron Man and X-Men animes. Won't say no one should go see it but I will not.
astromerc - 12/2/2011, 6:44 PM
Gay or not he is right! Changing the source material is pointless. I know they wont listen to him but, at least he had the ballz to say it!!! BA BA BOOBIE to you all!!!
headlopper - 12/2/2011, 6:44 PM
I think Tom Cruise is Asian ; give him the work.
krooklyndodger - 12/2/2011, 6:46 PM
Emjeed - 12/2/2011, 6:46 PM
@RorMachine I think what he meant. Y that was that taking a piece that is set in an Asian environment and is huge in those circle and completely changing that whole setting is what offends the Asians .. And the fans of the material. I have no idea what Akira so I can't know for sure... But if it's set with Asian characters and is getting "whitewashed" then I sympathize with what he's sayIng.. It's like taking naruto and making everyone white. But at the end of the day it's all about quality so WB might have not found enough good Asian actors with a good command of English language to be able to sell it to the American populace they are targeting.. Who knows? This is by no way a suggestion that there are not good enough Asian actors .. Just saying everyone could have their reasons.. But I do sympathize with his concerns.. Just my two cents :p
GUNSMITH - 12/2/2011, 6:46 PM
ender - 12/2/2011, 6:51 PM
Ok, here is my issue with making live action American anime. If we are being completely honest about the way these characters almost always appear in the original works, anyone would tell you that anime characters almost always look Caucasian. Seriously, look at that picture up there and tell me that he looks Asian.
AmahlFarouk - 12/2/2011, 6:53 PM
Thank you Mr. Takei!
I completely agree with him. Changing a character's race is like changing their gender; it is completely unnecessary, pointless, and often ruins the character.

When it comes to adapting stories, either stay faithful or reinvent the story (Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven, Bug's Life).
RorMachine - 12/2/2011, 6:56 PM
Then please explain "it" Ncreb? Because all I'm hearing is selective fanboy rage on this. Nobody can tell me how this is any different than any other remake aside from being based on a cartoon! Ok, I take Emjeed's point that there could be the concern that these particular characters are not Caucasian and are being "whitewashed" but yes, that is what happens with American remakes of foreign films I'm afraid. It has happened many times before, and will many times again. As for Akira being steeped in Japanese culture, of course. And The Snapper is steeped in Irish culture, every frame of it oozes the heart and soul of my Country..I still don't give a shite if the yanks fancy a stab at it.
soaponapope - 12/2/2011, 6:58 PM
As an asian, i could not disagree more with george takei on this issue. First of all i am asian and im not offended by the idea of non-asian actors being cast in "asian" roles, so theres that. Unlike takei, i dont believe that the roles "belong" to us asians, or anyone for that matter. In fact the only person the characters in Akira belong to is the writer of the manga. George Takei doesnt own them, i dont own them, kim jong-il doesnt own them, the global asian community doesnt own them. Frankly george takei has no right telling white actors they arent allowed to play them, and even less of a right telling me what offends me. What should matter above all else is that the original story is presented in the form of a strong, well written script, and performed by talented actors, regardless of where they come from. That, above all else, would honor the original story and do asians proud. Im not sure where takei gets this idea that only asians are allowed to write and star in a feature like Akira, as long as the final product is good, what does it matter if the actors arent asian? Can only white people play Shakespearean roles? Is that what we should be teaching kids in high school drama productions? Does Takei even realize the socially regressive sensibilities and message that he is promoting here? As an openly gay man, i'd think that he of all people would be able to better appreciate the civil implications of what he's saying.

The bottom line is that this is a movie they are making. For gods sake its supposed to be fun. Movies like Akira are supposed to be entertaining. Thats it. That is the only reason movies like Akira exist. The means to that end is less important to me as a film fan, and even less important to me as an asian.

Please. The roles dont "belong" to anyone. Get a clue and realize what the hell youre talking about, guy.
RorMachine - 12/2/2011, 7:02 PM
@soaponarope, ah..was it..yes it..was! Sense!
odie00 - 12/2/2011, 7:06 PM
i agree that a lot of anime characters that are suppose to be asain do like white indeed. but regardless having whitre actors with japanese names is kind of ridiculous. if they do change stuff about it like not setting it up in tokyo or having japanese names then i'd be cool with it but if its going to be the same exact thing as the manga/anime then i do have a problem with it. its like people bitching about how spiderman shouldn't be black when there was the whole issue. or changing any other comic book characters race. pretty sure people would flip if they actually made superman and batman or captain america if they decided to make them a different race other than white.
odie00 - 12/2/2011, 7:07 PM
look white* hate typing fast and it comes out wrong.
headlopper - 12/2/2011, 7:07 PM
What's weird is that most anime character's in almost ALL anime are drawn Caucasian in appearance much more than Asian. I've always wondered about that because I would think it would be a matter of national pride to draw anime characters with strong Asian features, but it's simply not the case.

The Japanese culture is featured prominently , but not the Asian racial features.

A really good example is 'One Piece'.

Check it out...

Snakeofdoom - 12/2/2011, 7:23 PM
I agree with George completely. Hollywood is just scared to spend any money on a movie without white leads. They don't think anyone will watch it. And more to his point, WTF is the purpose with buying the rights to a beloved property both here and abroad only to change nearly everything that made it interesting and popular to begin with?
So this movie is no longer about a post war neo-tokyo being ravaged by rival biker gangs and a fascist government straining to keep control and experimenting on the misplaced youth to weaponize them, not to mention all the undertones and various subtlety that I won't go into. Now, its about a New-Manhattan bar owner after WW3 and his brother, then they insert some of the basic plot about the government kidnapping his brother (who is no relation in the original) and turning him into a weapon.
So why? Just make your own shit. How about the Japanese make a Batman movie, except he'll be Asian never put on a Bat suit, and he'll be an accountant who never fights crime. Except his parents do get killed and he still has a cave under his house. That'd be cool right?
ender - 12/2/2011, 7:24 PM
I'm glad that I'm not the only one who sees this. I felt a wee bit racist :)
ender - 12/2/2011, 7:25 PM
@Snakeofdoom, to be fair have you seen Japanese Spiderman? That enough give us a right to do whatever we want with there IP's
Emjeed - 12/2/2011, 7:26 PM
Hahaha.. You got a point ^^^
Jer3miah - 12/2/2011, 7:27 PM
Doesn't matter if he's gay or not. Hollywood has been whitewashing movies since Wesley Snipes got locked up. Anybody who rejects that is an ignorant bastard.

@headlopper: They appear white because the Japanese emphasize expression through the eyes. They do the reverse of their own appearance for sake of illustrating more emotion and character through the eyes. Its their style of drawing.
Jer3miah - 12/2/2011, 7:29 PM
The real bloody question here is WHY are the Japanese selling their properties in the first damn place?? Ugh...
ender - 12/2/2011, 7:30 PM
iryoojin - 12/2/2011, 7:30 PM
Ok, here is my 2 cents. As an Asian-American it does kind of irk me that Hollywood casts non-Asians for Asian roles. Mainly because of the hypocrisy. Let me use Dragon Ball as an example. In the movie, Goku is played by a white guy. Goku is clearly Asian in the anime (minus when he turns super-saiyan and turns into a White guy with blond hair and green-blue eyes). I've asked some people why this was acceptable and the response I got was because he was an alien. Who knows what kind of race an alien is, anyone can play that! Ok. I suppose that is right. But you know who else was an alien? Super-man. White people would lose their minds if an Asian or Black man played Clark Kent. I'm all for finding the "best actor for the part". Just as long as it swings both ways, I'm cool with it.
headlopper - 12/2/2011, 7:41 PM
@Jer3miah- That could be it, but then you'd have to assume that Asians aren't able of emoting optically , only non-Asians can do so effectively, which isn't true of course.

I don't know's weird.

In a sense, it's like the making Scooby-do gang Asian when it was made here in the U.S.

All the character's on Pokemon seem Caucasian too.

Well, not all...

BruceWayneNewton - 12/2/2011, 7:47 PM
george is my man and he could not be more right about this. I don't know Akira from a hole in the wall other than that it is an asian animation with asian characters. STAY FAITHFUL TO THE MATERIAL!!!!
Cosmo - 12/2/2011, 7:51 PM
So changing Nick Fury from an old cigar-chomping white guy to a smooth, bald black dude is okay, changing Heimdal from Nordic to Negro...well, it happened (I haven't decided if I thought it was cool or not. Thought Heimdal and Sif were siblings. That can happen in Midgard, but Asgard?) Jeez, people were upset that John Cho played Sulu because he's Korean, not Japanese.

Well, now this.

I think George is right. If you want to tell the story of Akira, then tell it like it is--with Asian people. (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hmong, whatever)
animeex - 12/2/2011, 7:58 PM
Get Johnny Young Bosch for kaneda... He voiced it and is an actor. He was good enough to take over as the black ranger.
PoPcornDude - 12/2/2011, 8:00 PM
I have to agree with Mr. sulu, changin the characters origin is pintless, remember Dragon ball Z ???
that was pure Shít !!!
they should cast an asian as the lead, at least, someone not as famous, that would help them cut the budget !
Jer3miah - 12/2/2011, 8:00 PM
@SuspenseSmith: Yeah, you have a very good point. Tch, and they wonder why Occupy is out there giving them the excuse to arrest...

@headlopper: Yeah, there are several characters who have the eye design of an Asian, among the rest. Its very weird, you're right.
Cosmo - 12/2/2011, 8:11 PM
A Scorpion8125--I was going for the aliteration of "Nordic to Negro." :) If a person can't say "Negro" on a message board, then where can he say it?
Priest - 12/2/2011, 8:21 PM
So RorMachine, how about an asian Captain America?
RorMachine - 12/2/2011, 8:27 PM
Priest, that wouldn't make any sense since Captain America is an AMERICAN production. If however a Japanese film studio bought the rights to Cap and wanted to tell their own version of the story, well, what nationality would make most sense for them to go with then? Yep, it's Japanese!
Priest - 12/2/2011, 8:28 PM
I think the difference between the characters in Akira and Heimdall in Thor is that it was the owners, the creators of the character, that allowed that to happen. Yes, Heimdall is based on a norse mythology god, but it is NOT the god, it is a comic book character owned by Marvel.

Personally, I would hate it if it was an american character been portrayed by an asian. For example, in some bizarre series of events, let's say, DC/WB losing the rights to Superman, and Sony buys them and make a movie with an asian Superman.

Priest - 12/2/2011, 8:30 PM
So, you would be ok if that happened? You would be ok with them messing the character? I guess we must agree to disagree.
1 2 3 4

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.