At the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, master of comics and animation Katsuhiro Otomo announced several new projects, any one of which might be a bombshell. For him, it was just Thursday.
First up is Orbital Era, Otomo’s third-feature film after Akira and Steamboy. Though he’s directed segments in anthology features like Memories, Orbital Era will be a 100%-Otomo project, with him writing, directing, and designing the animation. Though no timeframe for release was given, Orbital Era is said to take place on a space station, and follow the adventures of several adolescents in the colony. Otomo says “the reality found in mankind’s future will be depicted through their perspective.” Go figure! Sunrise Inc. will be producing. See the sketch in the gallery below by Otomo, detailing the film’s space-colony setting. (photo credit to @debaoki)
Furthermore, Sunrise and Otomo will be working on a new Akira project. The 1988 film by Otomo was an adaptation of his manga from 1982. The film was a milestone for animation, and helped Japanese animation breakthrough overseas, though it was comparatively-sparse compared to Otomo’s massive, winding manga epic. Details on this new adaptation are even more fleeting than those on Orbital Era, though reports at Anime News Network would indicate a series, rather than a new film. Makoto Asanuma, President of Sunrise, mentioned the desire to “incorporate the entirety of the manga’s story.”
As if that weren’t enough, the original 1988 film is set to get a new home release featuring a 4k remaster, which will release in Japan on April 24th, 2020. A western release is expected to follow.
Finally, Otomo announced a manga anthology of his early, pre-Akira work will be released by Kodansha Comics internationally. The early work, dating back to 1971, will have its first release in the US as The Complete Works. No date was given.
With this wave of news, and an incoming Taika Waititi live-action adaptation of Akira, it’s certainly a good time to be a Neo-Tokyo fanatic.