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Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell)


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Here within are my findings. You may read what I have to say...or you are welcome to  Click Here To Read The Full Article By Clicking On This Link.

 

Now, If I may.

 

 

It has been speculated and finally confirmed that Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow - Marvel Comic Movies and most recently Lucy) will star as Major Kusanagi in the upcoming live action film from Dreamworks: Ghost in the Shell.

 

Ghost in the Shell has been a long running Manga/Anime franchise in Japan that is critically acclaimed and has a large fan base. Set in the year ~2029, typically they follow the adventures of Major Kusanagi as an agent of Section 9 (a top secret agency thats focus in on cyber security). Being her body is fully prosthetic she possesses speed, strength and stamina above that of a normal human. Her brain is also cybernetic which allows for computer fast calculations and processing. Essentially she is a complete bad ass.

 

The series itself though isn't your run of the mill anime and presents controversial moral dilemmas and philosophies that leave you deep thought. 

 

Now for my purpose of making this thread:

 

First:

While Scarlett Johansson has proven to be able to play as a strong female character, is she the right pick for such a prominent role?

 

I see potential in her but it's still a toss up for me. Also I see many negative posts because Dreamworks didn't pick a Asian female to fill the role. While I agree that would have been ideal, is there really any Asian females that could fill that role? I do not think it's a case of "Hollywood Whitewashing" as I see posted, but rather they have picked the best well known actress that can strongly fill that role.

 

Second:

Do you think that Dreamworks can pull off a live action movie that is worthy to fit in the Ghost in the Shell universe? 

 

I think it's possible but it could go either way. Dreamworks has a good run of well made movies but they're not well versed in live action movies and they have never made a movie (to my knowledge) that has the potential to be as violent as the Ghost in the Shell franchise can be. I do not think it's them just grasping for something big and has a large fan base, I think it could go either way but I am currently giving them the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

Edited by ./Anonymous
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Dreamworks will foul it up, Mamoru Oshii has a very specific cinematography and minimalist style, they'll give this to one of the current crop

of talentless music video directors who has zero taste in anything and has no idea what the film is about or its philosophy and see it as an

excuse to do android on mecha action.

It's also quintessentially Japanese. They'll westernise it, gut it and have not one Japanese face in there.

By the time they're done Pacific Rim will look more like GITS than this version.

As bad an idea as adapting Akira, they will never capture that same lightning in a bottle.

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I have a huge amount of (maybe morbid?) curiosity for this. I don't have a problem with ScarJo being in it, i'm a bit of a fan of hers, but I do think it will be strange to hear people calling her "Kusanagi". Unless they change her name, which I imagine would never go down well with anyone.

I'd also have to disagree on it being "quintessentially Japanese". I think part of the reason why the first film was so successful was because of how accessible it is to people other than anime fans. Some aspects are Japanese and will probably get lost in Westernization, but I think with an open mind this may not turn out TOO bad. But maybe I'll end up eating my words. I probably will.

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Kusanagi is atypical for a Japanese woman, to say the least. She has no family and displays no family values, is anything but gentle and soft-spoken, kills without regret, drinks like a fish*, makes porn for money**, has very little respect or use for authority and breaks away from her organization to get into bed with an almost complete unknown for reasons we can barely fathom.

Hell. We don't even know whether her real name is Kusanagi, or that she is Japanese in the context of the original comic. She is a secret agent with a body which is either almost entirely, or in fact entirely artificial - including her brain. Maintaining her original identity would be entirely counterproductive to her job. Maybe her real name is Johnson, or Rosenstein, or Ivanieva, or Okeke, or Kim, or Sanchez, or Hussein.

* She gets a little drunk, so I guess her brain still has to be (partly) organic.

** Yes, really.

Edited by Salkafar
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  • 1 month later...

As Neil Patrick Harris put it, it's about Hollywoods Best and Whitest...sorry....Brightest.

I'm not sure if it is what they call "whitewashing", but to give credit, Scarlet Johansson does have experience playing a badass female lead and has shown proficiency in doing so.  I just notice that there are not a lot of Asian in the lead roles in Hollywood.

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As Neil Patrick Harris put it, it's about Hollywoods Best and Whitest...sorry....Brightest.

I'm not sure if it is what they call "whitewashing", but to give credit, Scarlet Johansson does have experience playing a badass female lead and has shown proficiency in doing so.  I just notice that there are not a lot of Asian in the lead roles in Hollywood.

 

To be fair - not a lot of Caucasians in Asian cinema.

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As Neil Patrick Harris put it, it's about Hollywoods Best and Whitest...sorry....Brightest.

I'm not sure if it is what they call "whitewashing", but to give credit, Scarlet Johansson does have experience playing a badass female lead and has shown proficiency in doing so.  I just notice that there are not a lot of Asian in the lead roles in Hollywood.

 

To be fair - not a lot of Caucasians in Asian cinema.

 

Oh, you'd be surprised as how many caucasian pops up in asian cinema, particularly in Malaysian and Thai cinema.  What I meant is that when the plot requires a caucasian to be cast, they do so.  I've seen my fair share of Asian Cinema, and they do cast a lot of Americans and British in their movies.  I'm not saying that all of Hollywood is white washing their movies.  I'd like to cite the Last Samurai as an example where they did a good job.  It's just that there are too many Asian actors being cast only on Stereotypical roles.  Chow Yun Fat for example.  It's a shame he never made it big in Hollywood.  If you'd seen all of his Hong Kong Movies, he was way cool.

 

Oh, wait, we're getting off topic here.  Anyway, it's going to be interesting to see how they treat Ghost in the Shell.

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Ghost in the Shell should be arthouse, anyway. It's about alienation, the definition of what it means to be human, indeed the definition of life, posthumanism, the slippery moral slope and the general meaningfulness of human action. If they make it all-action then there really isn't any point at all.

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  • 2 months later...
Ghost in the Shell should be arthouse, anyway. It's about alienation, the definition of what it means to be human, indeed the definition of life, posthumanism, the slippery moral slope and the general meaningfulness of human action. If they make it all-action then there really isn't any point at all.

 

I agree with that point!  Ghost In The Shell should be a arthouse production, the only reason why Hollywood is interested in pursuing it is because it has a extremely large fan base!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Doesn't the Major get naked a fair bit? C'mon Scarlet commit to the roll :-)

 

In the original movie, yes and in the squeal Innocence.  However in the Stand Alone Complex and Arise spin offs, no.

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  • 2 years later...

Well, the movie has been out for a while now and nobody addressed it I guess, so...

- It's a prequel

- They lampshaded the fact Johansen is not Asian and, as it transpires, the Major is

- It's pretty good. Not super-great.

- The Japanese didn't give a toss that she's played by an American.

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I enjoyed the film. I think the visuals were stunning and it was in good taste , not going TOO far from the source material, which Hollywood loves to do. Scarlett did a good job I say, she's quite a dry actor anyway, which suited the role, for me.

Pretty darn good for a Western take of an Animation.

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  • 2 years later...
On 4/28/2018 at 2:04 AM, Gazham said:

I enjoyed the film. I think the visuals were stunning and it was in good taste , not going TOO far from the source material, which Hollywood loves to do. Scarlett did a good job I say, she's quite a dry actor anyway, which suited the role, for me.

Pretty darn good for a Western take of an Animation.

Scarlett was not bad as Kusanagi.  But the entire Ghost In The Shell movie was horrible, as they took different parts from the anime movies and Stand Alone Complex and merge them together.  Which did not work so well in the end for me.  For those who are new to GITS, they will find it an enjoyable movie.

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  • 7 months later...
On 7/21/2020 at 3:47 AM, BlackEpyon said:

Scarlett was not bad as Kusanagi.  But the entire Ghost In The Shell movie was horrible, as they took different parts from the anime movies and Stand Alone Complex and merge them together.  Which did not work so well in the end for me. 

Me too. I didn't agree with most of the cast.  For whatever reason. Hollywood just can't do anime adaptations. They don't get it. They don't understand it. They don't listen nor care about what the fans want. They look at it and all they want to see is if they can make a movie that will make them money. That's all they care about.

 I'll quote from what they said in their defense when fans griped that they white washed Kusanagi:  "They're in the money making race."  Yep. They made that obvious. They wanted money and I'm glad it didn't go the way they planned it.  They barely tried writing a decent script or even put in the effort for a plotline that was believable for that movie. 

The movie failed the moment the big wigs went to sit in their big fancy chairs in their big fancy office's and discussed what they wanted to do. The fans wanted an all Japanese cast. Someone had to have told them that. But nooooo. They probably had at least one guy saying they needed an all Asian cast and they're all ignoring him. The big wigs are like "NOOOO, we'll just throw some make up and some costumes on and they'll be all right!" and then someone pitched " Scarlet Johansen is Motoko Kusanagi" and the Big Wigs are like "Yeah, she'll be up there with Schwarzenegger being The Terminator and Peter Weller being Robocop! Yeah that's a good idea I like it where you're going with this!" and meanwhile the guy who said they needed an all Asian cast is sitting in the corner facepalming! No! He's double facepalming! He's saying to himself "For the love of god, what have they done? They just ruined everything." 

It went something like that. They obviously didn't learn from the Dragon Ball movie that was made in the early 2000's with a mixed racial cast. And Scarlet Johansen didn't get the character at all nor did she review the source material. She claimed that Motoko Kusenagi didn't have a race. That's a load of bull. Her name is Japanese. Motoko didn't move off to Japan and decide she'd be trans racial. 

I didn't buy Scarlet's sad defense or explanation of who Motoko was supposed to be because it was an extremely poor attempt at making an anime adaptation. What she didn't get was that we the fans already knew who Motoko was. She needed to make us, the fans, to believe she was that character and she couldn't deliver on any of it. The production was bad. She was bad. Even worse because she tried turning it around on the audience and the fans like we're the bad guys for not liking her movie. And it wasn't just the fans who hated the movie. Everyone just about hated it. 

Paramount Says 'Ghost In The Shell' Flopped Because Of ...

Quote

Johansson defended the movie’s casting last week, saying that her character did not have an ethnic identity. Johansson told Good Morning America that her character is a “human brain in an entirely machine body, she is essentially identity-less.”

 

“I would never attempt to play a person of a different race,” she added. “Hopefully any question that comes up of my casting will hopefully be answered by audiences when they see the film.”

But her defense didn’t quell the larger issue of white actors being cast in Asian roles.

 

Edited by Jupiter
Correcting my post.
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The problem with Hollywood adaptation of Anime is that Hollywood doesn't believe that the Anime has a big enough following to make money, and really believed that the average joe doesn't have any idea what anime is about.  That's the primary reason why they went and casted a famous actor/actress to draw crowds, not knowing that doing so would have resulted in backlash.  

To be honest, my gripe with Hollywood adaptation of anime is not really about the casting, but more about the writing.  I don't understand why they have this need to adapt the story to be palatable (or dumbed down) to American audiences.  The reason they are popular in the first place is because they do make use much of American culture.  What makes them so appealing is because of how different they are.  My statement of this might cause a lot of hate, but if they had written Dragon Ball differently using the same cast, the movie might actually be decent. 

Actors portray the characters based on how they see them, and in this case, ScarJo portrayed it because this is how the writers presented it to her. 

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I don't know if anyone knows any reason why Ghost in the Shell has to be set in Japan and have Asian cast....
Hollywood casts Actors who will bring in the crowds. That is a simple factor of the business. They have to spend money to make a film and they take money in return. it is a business.  So they have to do what will make money in order to avoid a flop.  It can be a risky business and if you choose no big name actors, you could end up losing massive amounts of money.  That is just the nature of the game.

If they have a story that requires Asian actors then absolutely, they need to use Asian actors.

Then comes the setting and the story.... They have to write what is familiar to them. Their writers are probably mostly living in the USA and their studios are in the USA and so they can relate to that easiest and be more sure of potentially making a good product. If they try to write a script about Japanese people living in Japan, it's going to be more of a challenge to them. It just makes sense to write about what they know and adapt foreign stories to their own culture.

Generally speaking, a lot of Anime fans can be difficult to please. The Ghost in the Shell movie was really quite well done IMO.  And in comparison to the original Ghost in the Shell feature length Anime... I found it much easier to watch. that original anime may have gotten a lot of critical acclaim, but personally I found it to be quite bad. the pacing was terrible and it ended at what felt like half way through, while also being on for too long.

Maybe there is an issue though... perhaps many Anime and Manga only really work well within the context of Japanese society? Developing the idea to work with a different audience..... this can work if they adapt it fully. Films like Pacific Rim have done this very successfully.  Also the recent Godzilla films have been very well done IMO.  But these are cases of adaptations that do not feel the need to stick with the original characters, the original names, etc.
I think this kind of loose adaptation can be far more successful.

Edit:
I also want to say... in future, if they want to make Anime Movies, they need to leave it to Japanese film studios.  Hollywood could work with them and give them money and maybe figure out a way to have it appeal to a wide audience... but they have to use the economics of Japan and the audience that the Anime usually reaches.

Edited by Tora Tan
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On 3/17/2021 at 2:20 PM, Tora Tan said:

I don't know if anyone knows any reason why Ghost in the Shell has to be set in Japan and have Asian cast....

It does actually. Because Public Security Section 9  is set in Japan and is a team that stops terrorists. Motoko Kusanagi is the main protagonist of the series. Just like how Sho Fukamachi is the main protagonist of The Guyver.  Other than that. I agree with the rest of what you've explained in your above post and how pleasing an audience of people loyal to the manga and anime can be very difficult. I however do think if they had just done what was requested. The movie might have had a fighting chance. Instead they did what they wanted. 

 

 

Edited by Jupiter
Rewording my post.
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That's my point though.. there is nothing about section 9 that says it has to be in Japan? any country can have an anti terrorist specialist organisation.
And the name of the protagonist, could have been changed, but in the case of the movie, they actually had a very good plot reason for her being in another country and having that name.

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