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Anime Superstar Katsuhiro Otomo Unveils ‘Orbital Era’ Film and New ‘Akira’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Katsuhiro Otomo
JUN HIRAOKA

Otomo Katsuhiro, one of Japan’s leading anime creators, is to direct a near-future action adventure film “Orbital Era.” The film will be produced through Sunrise Inc., part of Bandai Namco.

Sunrise will also produce a new version of “Akira,” the series that propelled Otomo to success. In a related move, manga publisher, Kodansha will also team up with the artist to create “Otomo: The Complete Works.”

The trio of projects were announced Thursday in Los Angeles at the Anime Expo by Otomo, Makoto Asanuma and Yasumasa Tsuchiya, respectively president and producer of Sunrise Inc.

“Orbital Era” will be Otomo’s third feature film, after “Akira” and “Steamboy.” He is committed to writing, designing and directing the picture. The story takes place on a space colony under construction, and follows 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,” said Otomo. No schedule was revealed.

Poster image for Katsuhiro Otomo's "Orbital Era"

“Akira” was originally serialized in Kodansha’s manga magazine Weekly Young Magazine between 1982-1990. Its popularity increased after being made into an animated film in 1988, as well as into a game. In 2002, the manga won the Eisner Award, one of the most prominent prizes in the American comic industry and has inspired many creators worldwide.

Otomo will personally edit and organize “The Complete Works” retrospective project at Kodansha. The objective is to publish a fresh collection of work through which fans can trace the trajectory of Otomo’s ideas and creations from the beginning of his creative career. It will include all of his works and statements in chronological order, since 1971. It will be published in Japanese and international versions.