Report: Tokyo Olympics Proposal Included Akira And Super Mario In The Opening Ceremony

Illustration for article titled Report: Tokyo Olympics Proposal Included Akira And Super Mario In The Opening Ceremony
Photo: GEORGES GOBET / AFP (Getty Images)
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The Tokyo Olympics, it seems, will hold the opening ceremonies this July. While the finalized plans have yet to be revealed, Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun has apparently acquired a 280-page scrapped proposal for the event. Included within it is an Akira-themed plan, and another that features Nintendo’s Mario.

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Shukan Bunshun is one of Japan’s most famous magazines and known for its investigative reporting and breaking news. The article was published online yesterday and will appear in the April 8th issue.

The leaked proposal was reportedly created by award-winning choreographer Mikiko. Previously, she worked as a production consultant for Japan’s event during the 2016 Summer Olympics closing ceremony. According to Shukan Bunshun, her concept included the projection mapping and dance routines for which she’s famous.

In one of the images posted by Shukan Bunshun, Kaneda’s bike from Akira is seen circling what looks like dome-covered Neo Tokyo. Later, an 8-bit Mario in a bathing suit appears on a giant screen made of lanterns. Below, dancers do a routine inspired by synchronized swimming. Shukan Bunshun reports that the IOC loved the concept.

Mikiko’s idea was shelved, it seems, when Hiroshi Sasaki took over as creative director, restructured the creative team, and instituted his own ideas. Sasaki has since resigned due to a derogatory suggestion he made for Naomi Watanabe.

Recently, Naomi Watanabe, whose appearance is also included in the supposed leaked plan, said on YouTube that Mikiko’s proposal was “truly cool” and was so moving she got goosebumps. Later, when Watanabe was told about her role in the opening ceremony, she said it sounded very different from the plan Mikiko designed. She was especially shocked because she knew the original proposal.

During the 2016 closing ceremony, then Prime Minster Shinzo Abe appeared in a Mario hat, so the character’s proposed inclusion isn’t a surprise. However, embracing the Akira connection is. Created by Katsuhiro Otomo (pictured above), Akira debuted as a manga in 1982 and was later adapted into an anime feature film. Famously, it predicted that Neo-Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics and even seemed to foreshadow covid-19's impact on the games.

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The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics will be held on July 23.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

DISCUSSION

Alternate opening ceremony...full orchestral rendition of Kenji Kawai’s Utai IV Reawakening, accompanied by full-sized and fully-functioning tachikomas (you know they already have those stashed away) and the Major emerging from a weird liquid pool.