Most fans of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s 1988 animated masterpiece Akira never wanted a live action remake to happen. But Warner Bros., the studio who holds the rights, has been pushing the issue for about five years. Almost every single prominent actors in his late-twenties or early-thirties was floated as possibly playing the star of the film, Kaneda, and several directors have been attached too. The most recent being Jaume Collet-Serra who almost got the film in front of cameras – he had even auditioned and cast some roles – before the studio pulled the plug on the film for what feels like the 10th time.

A live action Akira may still happen but, for now, it just lives in that weird limbo of films that got close but never made it. Which just means, for years to come, we’ll hopefully be rewarded with glimpses at pre-production work hinting at what could have been.

The first instance of that has now been revealed: unused storyboards from one of the film’s earliest incarnations. They show imagery that’s both directly from the original film (and graphic novels) as well as a few twists that are very unlike the source material. Check it out below.

Thanks to IO9 for posting these revealing images. We’ll discuss them after the jump.

As you can see at the top of each page, these storyboards were drawn by concept artist Sylvain Despretz when the film was in the hands of director Ruairi Robinson around 2008. He was off the film about a year later, the first of many times Akira was pronounced dead.

From the first board, you see the destruction of the city portrayed in almost identical fashion to the original film. The second board, however – the one with many more frames – shows a Caucasian Kaneda with a bike that seems more street legal and realistic than the original film. Would these choices eventually have made it into the movie? We’ll never know. But you do see how Robinson was trying to take the familiar Akira iconography and mold it to the modern world.

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