Katsuhiro Otomo doesn’t make films very often, so when he announces a new one, it counts as an event. Following the epochal Akira (1988) and Steamboy (2004), the manga master-turned-anime auteur is at work on his third feature, Orbital Era, which he will write, design, and direct. This was one of a slate of projects Otomo and his colleagues announced on Thursday at LA’s Anime Expo.

Orbital Era is being produced by Sunrise, with which Otomo previously collaborated on a number of projects, including Steamboy and his contribution to the anthology work Short Peace. The studio describes the new feature as follows:

“The plot takes place in the near-future on a space colony under construction. 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.”

Intriguingly, the story is said to follow American characters, but the astronaut in the teaser (see below) is wearing a USSR helmet.

At the same event, Sunrise revealed that it’s working on a new anime adaptation of Akira — not the movie itself but its source material, Otomo’s award-winning manga series. It isn’t yet clear how Otomo will be involved, if at all. Additionally, the original movie will be rereleased in a new 4K conversion next year. The news follows the recent confirmation that the long-gestating live-action adaptation of Akira is going ahead, with Taika Waititi at the helm.

The final announcement at Anime Expo concerned a new anthology of Otomo’s manga works. According to the publisher Kodansha, Otomo: The Complete Works will be edited and organized by the artist himself, and will feature all his works and statements running back to 1971. It will be released in Japan and internationally.

Otomo first found fame in Japan through his manga Domu in the early 1980s. He entered the animation industry as a character designer on Rintaro’s blockbuster sci-fi feature Harmagedon: Genma Wars. He was given the chance to adapt his own Akira comic soon after. The result is one of the most influential anime works of all time (not least where Kanye West is concerned), and one of the first to make a real impact in the West. Otomo has since directed live-action as well as animated movies, while continuing to publish manga.

Anime Expo runs at the Los Angeles Convention Center until Sunday.

Location:
Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is European Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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