Unless you've been living under a rock on Mars the past month or so, you might be aware of a forthcoming film called Ghost in the Shell.
The first trailer for which you can see here;
I'm a big fan of the Ghost in the Shell (GitS) franchise, from the original Manga(Comics) to the Anime (Animated Films) and so when I heard about this, I followed its development with interest.
The film and it's production has come under fire for a number of reasons, one of the big ones being the casting of Scarlett Johanssen as The Major, or, to give her her full name, at last in the Mana and Anime, Motoko Kusinagi. Casting a White Actress in a very definitely Japanese roll has caused all sorts of upset.
So, as a fan, I have been thinking of writing something and providing my own point of view for a while.
On hearing of Scarjo's casting, I will most certainly say I was a little disappointed. This is a story that has a strong Japanese heritage and to see someone cast as Motoko who's not Asian, was disappointing, and quite insulting with plenty of people accusing the movie of White-Washing.
This is nothing new in Hollywood, where they like to play fast and loose with this kind of thing, but, on the flip side, I get why they did it.
GitS does have a dedicated fanbase, but, it's not by any means a mainstream franchise, not in the west anyway. Most people in the west will not have heard of it.
At the end of the day, Hollywood is driven by money. These films cost millions to make, so it's totally understandable that the Producers and Studios will want someone recognisable in the lead role. Someone with star power that can draw the crowds and get the film seen by as many people as possible.
Casting Scarjo will do that. She's perhaps the biggest female star in Hollywood right now, and casting her in the lead role will immediately put the financiers minds to rest.
From what i understand from interviews with the Director, it was also a very conscious choice. He cast her specifically for this reason so that he could then go onto cast all the others roles how he wanted, giving the film a very multicultural feel, including casting a number of Japanese actors in the lead roles.
And in that context, I get it, and I can kind of put this issue to bed and get behind it.
Without someone like Scarjo as the Major, this film would almost certainly not happen, or at the very least, not be the huge mega blockbuster they are hoping it will be.
The director has also clearly gone to some lengths to make sure that this adaption is quite faithful to the source matrial as well, with many of the scenes looking very much like live action versions of the Anime. Which is Awesome to see.
The Shelling sequence that was released being one such high point. It looks AWESOME.
OK, I'm going to get a bit geeky now, talking about stuff in the lore of Ghost in the Shell.
During the whole white washing debate back when Scarjo was first announced, I saw a lot of Fan's backing the choice of Scarjo saying that in the Anime/Books Motoko is meant to be a non-ethnic Cyborg, or that her body was a Specially made one, or that she should look special or different, or that in the world of GitS, the races have mixed and nationalities
don't exist. One person also said that the "Rangers" of Section 4 are American, bacause the USA has a "Rangers" in it's military.
Firstly, let's address the issue of Motoko's Cyborg Body. The Major has a Full Cyborg Prosthetic Body, with the only part of her thats organic being her brain.
In the Manga and ANime, the Body she wears was chosen specifically to blend in. They chose the most common mass produced model and upgraded it. This way, she blends in. SHe doesn't look Special.
How do I know this?
Because Masamune Shirow, the Creator of Ghost in the Shell said so in the Author notes in the back of my copy of the Manga.
We can see this in the Anime as well int he middle of the film when Motoko is on a boat travelling through the city and looks up to see an identical version of herself in a window above.
Also, the idea that Nations don't really exist in GitS is quite wrong. Right at the start of the Manga and in shorter form in the Anime, the first thing we're shown is a bit of text.
Much of the story in the film revolves around international politics as well, with the opening Assassination scene being talks between the Japanese Foreign ministry and the Republic of Gavel.
Finally the Rangers Comment, which refers to one of the Public Security Sections which Batou used to be a part of.
There are 9 Public Security Sections within this fictional Japanese Government, and Section 9, the Section that our Hero's in this film belong too, frequently recruit from the other sections.
Section 4 is Nicknamed "the Rangers" and has nothing to do with the USA SOCOM, especially as in the world of Ghost in the Shell, the two World Wars that precede the setting of the Story, World Wars 3 and 4, changed global politics and geography. The USA has been Balkanised, broken into several smaller nations and is not a world leader anymore. Instead, Japan has emerged as the new world power.
So there's likely no more US Rangers to speak of.
I also saw people complaining that Scarjo's Major was wearing a strange catsuit thing in a couple of the shots, where as in the Anime, Motoko is naked.
This is the Shot
And again, I am wondering if these commentators even watched the film.
This comparison shows quite clearly that she's wearing a similar catsuit in the Anime.
Am I getting Geeky enough for you yet?
Anyway, I'm likely boring you now by getting a little too in-depth. But, I needed to say these things, far anyone who's interested.
Suffice to say, at the moment, everything I have seen makes me feel hopeful that this should be a very good adaption, and I have my fingers crossed.
Also, a few have talked about the plot, and how it changes it from the original Anime. Well, yes, it does. In the Anime Motoko grapples with the problem of humanity. Is she still human with this body of hers, something that's not easy to answer and the film doesn't try to answer it.
In the trailer for the lice action movie, they seem to have changed it to her wondering who she was before she became a Cyborg and that the company who Cyberized her, have been lying to her.
The original Anime shows Motoko well into her career at Section 9 and when the Puppet Master comes along, he effectively ends that careers. Her life changes.
The film won't deal with the Puppet Master storyline. Instead, it will deal with the Kuze Storyline from the TV GitS series, Stand Alone Complex. In that story, Kuze is a figure from Motoko's past as a child, a boy who had to be fully Cyberized, just like she did.
My thoughts on this are that the Studios want to focus on her early career in Section 9, in the hope of creating a Franchise, a series of films. So it makes no sense to use the Puppet Master story line that will effectively end her career. Instead, they have chosen to focus on her early Career and on a story that focuses on her origins.
This is an Origin story.
Makes sense right?
I figure, that if the film is successful, they might do one or 2 more. If they do 2 more, and create a trilogy, which makes sense to me, I suspect the second film will be either the Laughing Man or Individual Eleven story (The Kuze story ties into the Individual Eleven, though, so maybe it will be the Laughing Man), and then film 3 will be the Puppet Master, which ends her Section 9 Career.
What are your thoughts on the film.