Akira, the utterly incomprehensible manga/anime that’s apparently the pinnacle of Japanese culture post-Godzilla but pre-loli, is becoming an honest to goodness franchise for Warner Bros. The studio, which had previously announced a live action adaptation of the story, has said that they’re going to do two movies, with each encompassing three books of the six book manga.

The movies are still being directed by newbie Ruairi Robinson, who has helmed short films and commercials, and with a script by Gary Whitta, who has the unproduced screenplay The Book of Eli under his belt (the Hughes Brothers are supposedly getting some conjugal visits in director jail in order to make the film). Two major tentpole films with totally untested folks leading the creative charge? I have to imagine that producer Andrew Lazar will have to be very hands on with this one. Was he as hands on with previous films Death to Smoochy and Assassins?

The two films, which are being billed as City of God meets Blade Runner (set in New Manhattan, not New Tokyo, by the way), have to get underway soon; Warner Bros is eyeing a 2009 release date for the first movie.