This morning the official trailer for the American adaptation of Ghost in the Shell was released after a few months of idiosyncratic trailers in 10 second bursts and a whitewashing controversy that caught more attention of viewers than the marketing of the film itself. Here, watch the trailer first, then we’ll get into the details.
The film, directed by Snow White and the Huntsman‘s Rupert Sanders has been in the works at Paramount for years and only in the advent of American comic book adaptation success in the United States have Japanese manga and anime begun to see their turn for live action films as well, namely in Japan, where Toho adapted Attack on Titan into two films, Warner Japan successfully adapted Rurouni Kenshin into three blockbuster successes and will soon release a film based on the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise.
Ghost in the Shell, however, will be the first one to be headed by an American production company since 2009’s Dragonball Evolution, which is considered one of the worst adaptations of literally anything.
The series, began as a manga in 1989, draws inspiration from classic science fiction and artificial intelligence like the works of Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov, where a group of of police in a counter-cyberterrorist force defend their city from the seedy underworld of crime in a hypothetical version of the 21st century. The population, and the protagonist, however exist as human consciousness living inside mechanized bodies.
The main character, Major Mokoto Kusanagi is played in the film by Scarlett Johannson, and the single name has bolstered the film into the stratosphere of conversation among fans of film and of the source material by way of discussing whitewashing and it’s impact on the industry. Among many other anime, Ghost in the Shell is a production by japan and is set in japan that features caucasian characters by design, in this case, the Major’s youthful cybernetic body, and this is the argument made by fans of the original manga and film in addition to the fact that the fans native to Japan show excitement when discovering America’s highest paid and most popular actress in our time is playing their most iconic female lead character in their media.
However, a lot of people in the West see the casting for what it is: a stunt to save the film from failure. This mostly comes to light when considering the rest of the production, the time it had been on ice, and particularly the fact that there was leaked evidence of Scarlett being photoshopped to look Asian by the studio’s effects team. While it will be interesting to see an original science fiction film with a female lead released in the United States, it is clear that Paramount was not going to be confident in the film if it did not have such a recognizable star instead of giving the chance for success to lesser known Japanese-American actress. Hopefully they don’t come next for Akira if they haven’t already.
Feel free to share your comments below, but first you should watch the original 1995 film if you haven’t. Damn, that main theme gives us chills every time we hear it.