Akihabara @ DEEP: Otaku’s novel was almost an anime Nicktoon

Akihabara @ DEEP, a novel written by the same author as Ikebukuro West Gate Park, almost became a Nicktoon … but it didn’t. What happened?

The success of major anime franchises like Naruto, One Piece Y Bleach In the mid to late 2000s, a wave of popularity for anime and manga began outside of Japan, especially in the United States. This programming block saw like Toonami’s feature shows that states might have otherwise been skipped. Also, both Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon had several shows that, while not exactly the same, were clearly inspired by Japanese animation.

A program that would have been like this was the planned cartoon. Akihabara in DEEP. This series would have been one of several different adaptations of its source material, albeit a bit more geared towards American youth. Perhaps due to the mature content of its original material and the difficulty of the company to adapt it, the Nickelodeon series never saw the light. Here’s the story behind the Akihabara in DEEP franchise and how your first chance to reach the States got by the wayside.

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What is Akihabara @ DEEP?

Akihabara in DEEP It began as an action-drama novel written by author Ira Ishida. The series focused on a group of otaku nerds who, as the name suggests, live in and around the Japanese city of Akihabara. Your goal is to use artificial intelligence to create a new efficient search engine that meets the wants and needs of the inhabitants of Akihabara. However, their technology makes the group a target of the malevolent Digital Capital corporation.

The popularity of the novel saw it adapt to various mediums over the years. The first one was a manga, which was pretty accurate with the original book. Then came a more lighthearted live-action TV series, which provided more backstory and development for the characters, namely antagonist Nakagomi Takeshi. In contrast, the film adaptation that was released after the TV series ended took a darker look at things, making the outcast nature of its otaku leads more central than before.

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Akihabara @ DEEP’s Nickelodeon Adaptation Canceled

However, the immense success of the series did not stop with the books or live action. The same year that the television show and film premiered, it was announced that Nickelodeon would produce a CG animated series that would give it its own version of the novel. This was interesting, given that all the Japanese adaptations had been live action. This resulted, or at least would have resulted, in a version of Akihabara in DEEP which, although still set in Japan, had a distinct American flavor.

The character designs were courtesy of Ippei Gyoubu, who took it with a distinctive and vibrant style similar to that of SEGA’s cult video games Jet Set Radioas well as the art of Tank Little girl creator and Gorillaz album artist Jamie Hewlett. At the time, Gyoubu stated that the series had already started production a year earlier and that it would be released in 2009 at the latest.

The biggest problem with producing the series came from the material. The original novel and the Japanese adaptations were more aimed at older teens and young adults, with themes like prostitution in Akihabara. As mentioned, the film version made the sometimes funny series darker and more serious than ever. So turning it into a tweens show would have required considerable reconfiguration. Writer Robert Chang’s speech for the series was deemed too dark, and when the show finally changed hands to Radar Cartoons, he fell into development hell. Since then, the series has yet to have a concept surface proof, although Gyoubu released the aforementioned concept art that showed how the series likely would have looked. It’s doubtful the series will see the light of day, but it can be expected.

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