Ghost in the Shell cast adds Beat Takeshi as Section 9 chief

SuperHeroHype (by Max Evry):

Japanese comedian and actor Beat Takeshi (Hana-bi, Battle Royale) has joined the Ghost in the Shell cast and will play Public Security Section 9 founder and chief Daisuke Aramaki. He will star opposite Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt and Sam Riley. Takeshi, also a respected director and TV host, had previously appeared in another American cyberpunk film, 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic.

Announced last year, the Ghost in the Shell movie is set to be directed by Snow White and the Huntsman’s Rupert Sanders from a screenplay adapted by Straight Outta Compton’s Jonathan Herman, who took over from previous writers Jamie Moss and William Wheeler.

The new Ghost in the Shell movie will offer a live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s iconic cyberpunk manga series about the members of a covert ops unit that take on technology-related crime. “Ghost in the Shell” was famously adapted into an animated feature in 1995.

Produced by Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul, the Ghost in the Shell movie also has the backing of Steven Spielberg. The rights to Shirow’s original manga were picked up several years ago with plans to use the latest 3D technology to film it.

In Japan, the huge success of the original “Ghost in the Shellcomics have led to a number of anime film adaptations, a TV series and a series of video games.

Ghost in the Shell Cast Adds Beat Takeshi as Section 9 Chief

 

“Ghost in the Shell” to hit the stage with a Tokyo theatre adaptation

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RocketNews 24:

Similar to how some of Ghost in the Shell’s characters can slip their consciousness into new bodies, the enduring science fiction franchise has gone through many incarnations. Starting with the manga by creator Masamune Shirow, the enduring science fiction hit has been an animated theatrical feature, TV anime, and series of direct-to-video anime shorts, plus has served the basis for a handful of video games.

The franchise might even end up with a Hollywood live-action version with Scarlett Johansson playing the lead role. Before that, though, Ghost in the Shell is getting a stage adaptation scheduled to be performed in Tokyo.

Each format of Ghost in the Shell has its own tone and series of events, and the stage version will be taking its cues from Ghost in the Shell: Arise–Alternate Architecture, the updated TV broadcast version of the original video animation Ghost in the Shell: Arise,  with its focus on the circumstances leading up to the formation of Public Security Section 9, the department the series’ principal characters are eventually attached to.

Directing the stage version will be film director Shutaro Oku, who also directed plays based on the Persona 3 and 4 video games and is set to direct the stage adaptation of the Blood-C anime this summer.

Handling the script will be Junichi Fujisaku, well-versed in the world of Ghost in the Shell by virtue of serving as supervisor for Ghost in the Shell: Arise and screenwriter for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

The Ghost in the Shell stage show will open at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater (Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo in Japanese), located in the capital’s Ikebukuro neighborhood, on November 5, and is scheduled to run until November 15. Exact times and ticket prices have yet to be announced, but organizers have put out a statement that no live stream or DVD of the performance will be available, so if you’re interested in seeing the world of Ghost in the Shell come to life, clear out your calendar and head to Tokyo this fall.

Sci-fi ninja cyberpunk novel series”Ninja Slayer” set to start streaming as anime on April 16

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RocketNews 24:

If there’s still a ninja-shaped hole in your heart where the recently climaxing Naruto used to be, perhaps we can interest you in some sci-fi cyberpunk ninjas?

With a new anime set to start streaming on April 16, the people behind Ninja Slayer want everyone to release their inner warrior, and they’ve got some shiny new merchandise to help you get in the mood. And if you happen to have lost your entire family to a ninja turf war recently, you too can become a ninja slayer! Find out how after the jump.

What began as a “translated” Twitter novel has blossomed into eight published novels, three manga adaptations and a new animated series set to stream on video site Niconico next month. People all around the world are catching the Ninja Slayer fever. A bunch of new merchandise is being sold to celebrate the anime’s release, and the standout winner is definitely the snazzy Ninja Slayer T-shirt.

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Using the same color as the main character Kenji Fujikido, this T-shirt will proudly show off your love for Ninja Slayer. It even has “ninsatsu” (忍殺) conveniently placed on the back. But that’s not all, using these simple step-by-step instructions, you can turn into the infamous Ninja Slayer yourself!

▼ From tee to ninja hood in seconds!

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We know what you’re thinking: “T-shirt ninja? What are you doing back?” But it’s not “just” a T-shirt ninja, it’s a T-shirt ninja slayer! When you use this shirt, the “ninja slayer” kanji characters are proudly displayed on the front. Now all your enemies will know what sort of nefarious business you are there to conduct.

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For those unfamiliar with the title, Ninja Slayer is a cyberpunk sci-fi story set in Neo Saitama. In a time where rival clans are fighting a huge war, one salaryman’s family is killed. Seeking revenge, the main character is possessed by a mysterious ninja whose hatred of the ninja syncs up well with Kenji’s thirst for revenge. Together they vow to kill all the ninjas as the ninja slayer.

Ninja Slayer is supposedly written by two Americans, Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez, but apparently that is a story made up by the “translators” to help sell their novels. No original English version of Ninja Slayer exists, yet, so it is probably safe to say the authors are Honda Yu and Sugi Leika. All this confusion only adds to the intrigue surrounding the title. You’ll be able to tune into the first episode streaming on Niconico on April 16.

Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s sprawling mural will soon welcome travelers at Sendai Airport

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RocketNews 24:

Surely any list of Japan’s greatest animators and directors must include Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind the likes of Akira, Domu, and Steamboy. Otomo’s distinctive mix of neo-futurism, cyberpunk, and dark humor has earned him both a legion of fans and numerous accolades throughout the world.

We mentioned in a previous article that Otomo would be designing a giant mural for Tohoku’s Sendai Airport. Now it looks like the wait is almost over. The 12-ton mural, which depicts a squat, bespectacled boy sitting astride a cybernetic carp flanked by the gods of wind and lightning, will be unveiled on March 12, one day after the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Working off Otomo’s original illustration, CREARE Atami-Yugawara Studio fired 451 individual clay parts to produce the final product. At 2.8 meters high and 8.7 meters wide, the relief will no doubt make even the busiest traveller stop and marvel at its sheer size and artistry.

▼ A look at the design process

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▼ This thing really is quite spectacular

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Fans of Otomo’s work will recognize some of his visual motifs in the form of the cybernetic carp. Equally striking is the expression of defiance on the young rider’s face–a tribute to the people of Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered extensive damage in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Regarding his motivations behind the project, Otomo was recently quoted as saying: “I hope it will spark children’s interest and serve as an opportunity for them to discuss the Great East Japan Earthquake and its aftermath with their parents.”

Travelers within Japan might soon be making a point of passing through Sendai Airport, if only to catch a glimpse of the impressive mural.

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Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

What do you think of when someone mentions Japan? Anime certainly may be one of the things that comes to mind with all the Japanese animations being seen around the world in recent years. In fact, those of us here in Japan are often amazed by how passionate and knowledgeable some foreign fans are about Japanese anime.

So, we guess it’s not a complete surprise if some Hollywood movies seem to have been influenced by Japanese anime. Movie creators would have watched anime too, and I think we all know to a certain extent how some anime or TV programs, especially ones that we saw as a child, can grab our imagination and never really completely go away.

Well, we happened to find a post on information-compilation site Naver Matome that listed some Hollywood blockbusters containing what seem to be subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) tributes and references to Japanese anime, which we thought would be fun to share with you. Let’s take a look below at the movies that were mentioned in the article.

 

1. Clash of the Titans 

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This visually stunning action adventure film is a remake of the 1981 classic based on the famous Greek myth of Perseus’s battle with the sea monster Kraken. In the 2010 remake directed by Louis Leterrier, the Olympian gods don’t wear traditional Greek robes but are instead clad in costumes that resemble medieval armor. Leterrier has said in an interview with the Japanese media that the armor-like costume was inspired by the anime Saint Seiya, which also borrows heavily from Greek legend and in which the characters battle with each other wearing special armor called “Cloths”. Leterrier says he is a huge of the anime which he saw in his native France and had thought the Cloths looked so cool that he wanted to pay homage to the anime in his movie. (Personally, this bit of information made me smile because it just so happens that I actually saw Saint Seiya on TV in France — although it was called by the fancier sounding French title Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque— when I home stayed in the country for about a month a long, long time ago when I was still in high school.)

 

▼Characters from Saint Seiya wearing their Cloths

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It’s hard to believe the popular anime, based on a manga of the same title, is now more than 20 years old! Back then, at least to me, the graphics seemed to be of very high quality by the standards of the time; okay, so the guys looked hot/cute/beautiful in their armor-style suits.

 

▼Zeus in his armor-like costume in Clash of the Titans — do you see a strong resemblance?

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2. The Matrix

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Many of you have probably seen this hit sci-fi movie, which caused a sensation in many parts of the world with its innovative story and stunning visual effects when it was released in 1999. It’s considered a classic cyberpunk movie, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the creators were inspired by anime of the same genre in making the film.

As those of you familiar with Japanese anime may expect, Akira and Ghost in the Shell are anime that are often cited as having influenced The Matrix.

 

▼Akira and Ghost in the Shell, both cyberpunk anime that likely had an influence on The Matrix

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The super-human powers exhibited by some of the characters in the Matrix are certainly evocative of parts of Akira, and Ghost in the Shell seems to have been even more of a strong influence, including the visual concept of a cable being connected into the neck, as well as the cinematography in some of the chase scenes. In fact, the directors of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, have said that they were so impressed with Ghost in the Shell that they wanted to make a live-action movie like it and even gave a video of the anime to the creative staff when making The Matrix as an example of the kind of world they wanted to create. Oh, and speaking of Japanese influence, did you know that the falling green digital code that appears in the movie contains mirror images of Japanese katakana letters?

Well, I certainly think the Wachowski Brothers succeeded here in making a film that leaves a strong and lasting impression. The Matrix is a movie that kind of gets to you, isn’t it,when you start to wonder about whether the world you live in is … well, really real?

 

3. Avatar

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This is another mega-blockbuster many of you will have seen. Although the plot, which involves greedy business and military oppressing and attacking an indigenous tribe for materialistic gain, is not particularly original, the movie does create a whole new world visually unlike any we had seen before. And that’s definitely something Hayao Miyazaki, anime producer and cofounder of Studio Ghibli, also excels at. James Cameron, who directed Avatar, admits that he is a big fan of Miyazaki’s films.

As such, it is no wonder if there seem to be parallels between Avatar and some of Miyazaki’s works, be it the industry/technology vs. nature theme, the uniquely vibrant colors or the amazing, speed-filled flight scenes. Movie fans have also been quick to point out that the presence of a strong, attractive female lead character is another element Avatar shares with many of Miyazaki’s works, particularly bringing to mind San in Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — both young women who battle fiercely against armies possessing sophisticated technology to protect the precious natural environment around them.

 

▼Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, both films featuring young, strong heroines fighting to save the world they live in

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There are also many visual details in Avatar that are reminiscent of images from Miyazaki’s anime, like the floating islands of rock that bear a noticeable resemblance to the floating castle Laputa in Castle in the Sky, or the supernaturally powerful tree with healing tendrils, which is a concept that also appears in Princess Mononoke. I’m sure it’s a testament to the creative genius of James Cameron and his team that they succeeded in making such a beautifully unique and thoroughly engaging movie while at the same time incorporating elements that we have seen before in some very well-known anime films.

 

4. Real Steel

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Perhaps befitting a movie set in a world where robots programmed to engage in boxing matches in place of human boxers, Real Steel is another film that contains images and references evocative of Japanese anime, which is after all, famous for its robot/mecha genre, among which some hugely popular anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion can be counted.

What could be more symbolic than the fact that the robot the main character comes into possession of is named Atom? Although the name may not necessarily ring a bell with those of you outside of Japan, Atom is actually the name by which Astro Boy , the iconic anime robot character, is known in Japan. I’m sure a lot of Japanese movie viewers smiled at that, since we all love Astro Boy here in Japan — in fact, I think most people over a certain age can sing the anime theme song completely by heart.

 

▼Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan

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Another anime that viewers of Real Steel may be reminded of is the classic Tetsujin 28-go, which was released in the United States as Gigantor. The design of some of the robots in Real Steel seem to bear a certain resemblance to those in the anime, and what’s more, the robot in Tetsujin 28-go is controlled by a young boy, which is also the case in Real Steel.

 

▼Tetsujin 28-go, the original Japanese version of Gigantor

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Of course, for those of us in Japan, it was also good fun to see some other references to Japan as well in the movie, albeit not necessarily anime-related, such as one of the robots being initially set to be controlled in Japanese, and the young boy managing to give some commands in Japanese, saying that he learned the words playing Japanese video games. Well, you have to admit it is kind of nice when your country receives a positive nod of recognition in a big Hollywood movie.

 

5. Transformers 

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I guess this sci-fi action film can be considered as receiving a kind of honorable mention here, as the movie is not exactly a work containing Japanese influences but rather based on a franchise that started as a line of transforming robot toys that was produced jointly by a Japanese and American toy company, so the series does have a good part of its origins in Japan.

 

▼Transformer toys from Takara Tomy

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Since then, it seems that the whole franchise, including the animated series, has been a combined effort between American and Japanese companies with South Korea involved as well in the animation.

 

▼One of the earlier animated versions

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Some fans also seem to think that the basic concept and some of the designs of the original Transformer toys were likely influenced by the anime series Macross.

 

▼The Macross anime series — the robotics certainly look sophisticated

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The Transformers anime was certainly a hit in Japan, but the question of whether it is technically an American or Japanese series still appears to be a subject up for debate even today. Well, either way, it’s certainly been a good source of entertainment for us, and we can’t complain about that.

 

Check out this link:

Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

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It’s shocking to see how many movie scenes were copied in The Matrix

The video by Culturegraphy shows the super close relationship between The Matrix and a bunch of other movies (including Total Recall!). The split-screen comparisons are shocking because you can see how closely some of the choreography and visual cues match up.

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Cyberpocalypse: the cyberpunk Lego city

 

Boing Boing:

 

In 2013, a group of Lego masters unveiled Cyberpocalypse, a spectacularly detailed, moody, neon-lit cyberpunk city. It’s a triumph of EL wire and science fiction aesthetics, a kind of bricky Burning Man theme-camp in miniature.

 

Check out this link:

 Cyberpocalypse: the cyberpunk Lego city