Legendary manga artist, writer, and animation director Katsuhiro Otomo, known for being selective in his works, held court at this year’s Anime Expo to make a handful of announcements about his future. The short of it: a new feature film, Orbital Era; new versions of many of Otomo’s classic works; and a new incarnation of his best-known creation, Akira.
Details are vague, but Japanese animation studio Sunrise is set to team with Otomo to bring Akira back to life as a TV series continuation. (The company specified that the project was not a sequel.) Serialized as a manga from 1982 to 1990, Akira became an international sensation after Otomo directed an animated feature version in 1988. The classic film will receive a remaster in April 2020, to be released in both in Japan and the U.S., with a 4K and HDR conversion.
On Facebook, Sunrise promised that “fans will be kept up to date about this new anime adaptation project as details become available.” The news arrives as Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) revs up production on his live-action adaptation of the manga, due in May 2021.
On top of the property-rebooting, Otomo also announced that he was in the works with Sunrise on a brand-new feature film, Orbital Era. Having only directed one other animated film after Akira, 2004’s Steamboy, Otomo will return to original material for the science fiction epic, having written the screenplay with plans to direct. “The plot takes place in the near-future on a space colony under construction,” according to Sunrise. “It is an action-adventure story following the lives of some young boys surviving in this peculiar environment and society as they are tossed around by fate. ‘The reality found in mankind’s future’ will be depicted through their perspective.”
At his panel, Otomo released the first teaser for the film, granting fans a sneak peek at the ambitious project.
Finally, Otomo wrapped the event by announcing Kodansha’s plans to publish Otomo: The Complete Works, a retrospective of art and ideas edited by Otomo himself. The book hopes to “trace the trajectory of his ideas and creations as far back as the birth of his creative career. It will include every one of his works and statements in chronological order since his debut as a manga artist in 1971.”
The book is expected to be published globally in a number of languages. There are no release plans for the new Akira series or Orbital Era. But they’re coming, and for fans of Otomo, that’s more than enough for now.