When I first heard the news that there were talks of a live-action adaptation of the 1995 cyberpunk anime classic Ghost in the Shell, let’s just say I wasn’t pleased…
(Scarlett Johansson Set To Play Major Motoko Kusanagi. Something Doesn’t Add Up Here.)
An Older Anime Worth Watching
For many younger anime fans, Ghost in the Shell may be an unknown title, but its influence can be seen in some of the West’s most famous sci-fi works. Ghost in the Shell is a head-scratching (trust me, you’ll have to view this film multiple times in order to fully understand it) cyberpunk anime based on the manga Kōkaku Kidōtai by Masamune Shirow that showcases a future where most of humanity has the ability to connect to a vast system of networks through the use of cybernetic brains. This cybernetic brain known as a “ghost”, can be housed in a cybernetic body, called a “shell” that allows the processor to have almost superhuman strength and abilities.
What Is “Human” in This Brave New World?
However, this new state of being creates a new vulnerability, the risk of having one’s cyber-brain or “ghost” be hacked and have a whole host of things happen, the most disturbing of which are either having one’s memories erased, false memories implanted and thought of as one’s own, or having one’s cyborg body completely taken over.
A government operative called Section 9 lead by Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team of all but a couple completely cybernetic agents investigate this new era of crime. Throughout the course of the film, Kusanagi questions her very existence or if she existed at all. What does it mean to be human when all that makes you one has been fully enhanced and developed by technology?
This has been a passion project of famed director Steven Spielberg for many years and with the obvious influence it’s had on a number of western films, it’s disappointing that this Japanese creation will more than likely feature very little in the way of Japanese or Japanese-American actors. Variety.com and other entertainment news sites have reported that actress Scarlett Johansson will be set to play Major Kusanagi in the live-action version of Ghost in The Shell on April 14, 2017 by DreamWorks.
I’m curious if they tapped Scarlett Johansson to play Kusanagi because of the character’s rather interesting (and fan-servicey) mode of combat, though it’s unlikely to make an appearance in the American version of the film. While it’s understandable that Scarlett would be a favored choice for the role, it would be nice if Hollywood took a risk and cast a majority of the roles to Japanese actors in this film. Look at actress Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim, she would be a great choice as Major Kusanagi, or any number of Japanese actresses (unfortunately, I don’t keep up with live-action Japanese films as much as I used to, so I thought of her as she’s well-known in the West.) Click hereto view an awesome fancast of Ghost in The Shell featuring Japanese actors.
This Could Be Really Good Or Really, Really Bad
Regardless how you feel on the subject of race swapping (the practice of switching the racial background of a character in an adapted work), it will be interesting to see how Ghost In The Shell translates with real-life actors. We’ll either get something also the lines of Dragonball Evolution (aka Dragonball: The High School Years) or a really fun and adequate Americanized version of Japanese Pop Culture in the tune of Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, which was adapted from the manga, All You Need Is Kill. Both of these examples changed the racial identity of the main and/or supporting characters to white.
What say you? Do you feel that the racial background of a character in a work of fiction should stay the same or is it no big deal to change it to something else? While you’re pondering this question be just to checked out the original Ghost in the Shell film available at the Arlington Library and tell me what you think!
***Ghost in The Shell is recommended for older teens.***
If you're like me and haven't missed a single super-hero flick in 2014, you've probably noticed that Marvel seems to be taking a new kind of a "Dark Knight" realistic approach to their way of storytelling. The stories seem grittier, more realistic, and the characters still appear to be just as "amazing," "uncanny," and in this case, "FANTASTIC" as they were before the reboots, but are now much more relatable to our modern, post-Katy Perry world.
In just under-2 minutes, we get a peak at the new Fantastic Four cast, as well as provide us with glimpses into their origins as to how they got their fantastic abilities. Beyond that, not much else is revealed in the teaser. But there are some eye-brow raising moments, oh just wait...
Reed Richards aka "Mr. Fantastic" (Played by Miles Teller)
Sue Storm aka "Invisible Woman... Girl?" Whatever, we get it. (Played by Kate Mara)
Ben Grimm aka "The Thing" (Played by Jamie Bell)
Johnny Storm aka "The Human Torch" (Played by Michael B. Jordan)
I know what ya'll are thinking... Believe me, I have my questions too. (We'll get to that in a sec.) But let's not deny the fact that this is simply awesome and many fans already agree that this is indeed a good look for Marvel!
As I mentioned earlier, Marvel has a rep for "keeping it real" with the origins of their heroes; so the question of the day is, how are they going to explain the relationship between the Storm children in this new fantastic reboot? We do see a brief shot of Dr. Franklin Storm at the :58 mark, so based on that image, would it be completely crazy for me to assume that Sue may be adopted? Perhaps both of them were, I don't know! Your guesses are as good as mine, but I'm definitely getting to the bottom of this come August 7th, which is when the new "Fantastic Four" film hits theaters.
In the meantime, don't show up theater as a completely newbie, check out some "Fantastic Four" graphic novels from your local library branch, and get caught up on the back story behind the famous super powered quartet!
So a little bird may have told me me that our Summer Reading Club theme this year is going to be all about HEROES. Oh yeah. And that's all I'm saying about that! More info to come so stay posted!
Like I said before, it's more fun when you're not a newb! So check out our amazing, fantastic, incredible, ultimate, astonishing (I can do this forever, guys. No really, I can...) collection of graphic novels/ books and get familiar!