I don't agree with the way he generalizes here. But specifically on the 1988 anime film, he might have a point.
Live-Action "Akira" Director Says Source Material and Japanese Culture Don't Have "Strong Characters"
ComingSoon.net has interviewed Jaume Collet-Serra, director of the upcoming Liam Neeson action vehicle Non-Stop, about his work on the live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. He says that he is continuing to work on the adaptation (which Warner Bros. shelved due to budget concerns), but that the material is proving difficult to adapt. He invites controversy by saying, “I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don’t think the main characters are the protagonists. What I’m hoping is to bring characters,” adding that, “nobody’s interesting.” Expanding on those comments, Collet-Serra added, “That’s part of the Japanese culture, they never have strong characters. They’re used as a way to move the other philosophy forward.”