Do you like Scarlett Johansson as a kick-ass leader of a anti-terrorism police unit? Are you a fan of the iconic Ghost in the Shell anime movies and/or TV series? If either of the two or both are true, please go see the new live-action version of GITS before pontificating on white-washing or the movie’s apparent soullessness.
After the failure of the 2010 live-action translation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” I was cautious about not having high expectations about what Hollywood was going to do to “Ghost in the Shell.”But when one friend commented, “No whitewashing for me, thx. ;-)” after I post that I was going to see the film, I thought it was all the more important, as a fan who has seen all the associated movies and TV series that I see the film for myself. After having seen the film twice, I have no idea what the critics were expecting.
Admittedly, given the iconic nature of the source material, the best one should expect is a well done re-interpretation for the new version (a la Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings”). Apparently this movie isn’t deep enough, cut out the quote from One-Corinthians, and shifted the plot from a government conspiracy to a more predictable, blasé corporate conspiracy. Yeah, and the classic anime changed a number of things from the original manga too. Maybe the deal is that when the original anime was released (in 1995) the Internet was new and not yet part of mainstream culture and how cyborized-humans would change or not change culture wasn’t discussed beyond William Gibson geek-book-clutches.
Like Peter Jackson, the creators of this new version of Ghost in the Shell chose to pull elements from the TV series, like Batou’s basset hound or the character of Kuze, but kept some visual set-pieces directly from the original anime, like the silent bird-like jet flying high over the garbage strewn alleyway just before the fight in the shallow waters with the invisible and nearly naked Major (Scarlet Johansson). The criticisms that there’s no soul beneath this new version sounds a bit like the whining of fans who loved a thing before it was popular and now hate the new version because it’s not the old version. All I know is that after watching this new version twice, I watched both seasons of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex tv series and purchase a comiXology version of the original manga. Anything that inspires me to explore the original source materials is a success in my book. Too bad the haters are the soulless ones unable to extend their fanatical ways to include this new visually gorgeous retelling of the story of Major Kusanagi and the Section 9 police unit.