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 Shell” comics have led to a number of anime film adaptations, a TV series and a series of video games.
Ghost in the Shell may well be one of the most beloved anime in history. Its compelling story, engaging characters and beautiful art all combine to make one of the most exciting franchises we can name, so it’s little surprise that 25 years after its release, the film remains a fan favorite to this day.
In celebration of the first film and the entire franchise, a special product has been announced: a limited-edition series of ukiyo-e prints featuring images from Ghost in the Shell! But when we say limited-edition, we really do mean limited — only 300 copies will be made!
And they won’t come cheap either…
Pictured above is the first ukiyo-e to be produced by OtakuWorks Inc., based on the poster for the original Ghost in the Shell movie directed by Mamoru Oshii. The image will be printed on Japanese paper produced by “living national treasure” Ichibe Iwano, a ninth-generation master of Echizen paper. The prints will also bear the signature of Hiroyuki Okiura, the artist who created the original poster.
Only 300 copies will be made, and you can pre-order one of your own right now for only 43,200 yen (US$370 for pre-orders for those living outside Japan). Pre-orders will be open until the end of November or until all 300 prints have been claimed. We have a feeling they won’t make it until the end of November…
The next image in the series will be of the poster for the most recent film, Ghost in the Shell: The Movie, which was released in Japan this June. Pre-orders for the second ukiyo-e print are expected to be announced soon.
It seems both odd and yet somehow fitting that such a futuristic series is receiving such a traditional treatment. If nothing else, it reflects the very human mind wrapped up in the cybernetic body of the original film.
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.
Though it took longer than you might have expected, fans have finally gotten around to petitioning DreamWorks Studios‘ decision to cast Scarlett Johansson as the lead in their live action adaptation of the 1995 anime film Ghost in the Shell.
The lead character in the original Ghost in the Shell is Motoko Kusanagi, and Asian woman. The petitioners feel that casting Johansson is whitewashing an Asian character.
Fans of the iconic 1995 animated Japanese sci-fi film Ghost in the Shell have been anticipating a live-action remake for years – but now, instead of casting an Asian actress, Dreamworks has selected Scarlett Johansson for the lead role! The film revolves around Major Motoko Kusanagi, a member of a futuristic security force tasked with tracking a mysterious hacker.
The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese. So why would the American remake star a white actress? The industry is already unfriendly to Asian actors without roles in major films being changed to exclude them. One recent survey found that in 2013, Asian characters made up only 4.4% of speaking roles in top-grossing Hollywood films.
Dreamworks could be using this film to help provide opportunities for Asian-American actors in a market with few opportunities for them to shine – please sign the petition asking them to reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film!
You can go to the website and sign the petition. If comic book movies have taught us anything, though, its that fans of the original source material are only a small fraction of a big budget, live action film’s target audience.
Ghost in the Shell is scheduled for release on April 14, 2017.
Scarlett Johansson, who demonstrated that women make awesome, bankable action stars with last year’s Lucy, has signed up for DreamWorks‘ adaptation of the anime Ghost in the Shell, according to Variety. Rupert Sanders, best known for Snow White and the Huntsman, will direct a script by Bill Wheeler.
The 1995 animated film Ghost in the Shell is itself an adaptation of the manga of the same name. Directed by Mamoru Oshii, the film follows Motoko Kusanaigi and her security agency squad members on their search for a malicious hacker named the Puppet Master. That’s really just the introduction, as the film blooms into a masterpiece about technology, sex, and paranoia.
“DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg is a huge fan of the original,” says the report on Variety, “and has long wanted to get this film off the ground.”
Hollywood has a pathetic history of making action films with female leads, but it’s also known to emulate recent successes. With Johansson’s financial and creative hits Lucy and Under the Skin receiving acclaim — not to mention her role in Marvel blockbusters like The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier — her talent and celebrity could be what’s necessary to finally get the film made.
Here’s hoping a live-action film can capture the astonishing beauty of the original’s animation.
A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?
Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.
One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:
The Guyver: One of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.
A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.
Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.
Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.
The Matrix: While, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.
The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.
“Stronger”: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.
Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.
Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.
Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.
Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.
[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]
While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.
But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.