The lead characters are Kaneda and Tetsuo, clearly Japanese all up and through.
But here's the shortlist for these characters
Scandal! Well, one of my favorite sites, Racebending.com called this mess out.
Given the current lack of lead roles for actors of color in the science fiction genre, the complex characters of Akira would be a great opportunity for Asian American actors. Last year, a Racebending.com volunteer ran a count of the 241 Warner Bros movies from 2000 to 2009 and found that only 2% had an Asian first-billed lead. Aside from The Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, the majority of films with Asian leads starred Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.This is really bad planning on WB's part. AKIRA is a known classic and respect should be paid. To possibly cast any of these "IT' boys means they are depending on the look and not the story. Newsflash! AKIRA is a CLASSIC for over 20 years. We don't need an A&F face to make us watch this movie!
Although Asian American actors are sometimes cast as supporting actors in films like this month’s Sucker Punch, they still struggle for representation in leading roles in Warner Bros. films. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?
In contrast, even though 40% of movie tickets are purchased by people of color, 90% of the films released by Warner Bros between 2000 and 2009 featured a white lead.
Because one out of every 10 modern-day Manhattanites are Asian American (Lower Manhattan is 41% Asian,) it would make just as much sense–if not more sense, given the names “Kaneda” and “Tetsuo”–for the leads to be Asian American as it would for the leads to be white. Tetsuo and Kaneda should be cast with Asian American leads.
So please sign their petition on their website and keep AKIRA real.