I should point out to the reader that I only have some background: I have not read the manga, but I have seen the ‘95 version, Stand Alone Complex with the Laughing Man (1) case, watched it’s continuation and have seen the Arise series. Arise is a prequel.
The following its rant/rambling of my frustration of a beloved anime:
My overall opinion of the Major is that she is simply a badass, who speaks and thinks with meaning/. She has final say. She leads a team of mostly cyborgs she hand picked for the skill set she needed. Feminists would be delighted to know she is the only female and commands respect by those who work under her. They would however take issue with her pink cleavage bearing leotard, leggings and jacket.
Live action adaptations have the same hurdle as book adaptation – being faithful to the source material. Casting, set design, cinematography; essentially anything related to visuals.
(I am a fan of the anime as I am a fan of Jane Austen. And her adaptations fall under the same scrutiny. The best adaptation by far of Jane austen’s work is the BBC Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I’ve seen basically every adaptation there is of her work. I will “dissect.” Another adaptation Emma has also had numerous adaptions and I feel every adaption has taken out an extensive explanation of one character. The most recent Pride and Predujice was released to the mainstream.)
I have the similar feelings to that adaptation as I do with Scar Jo’s ghost in the shell: it falls short.
Whitewashing aside (and Josh posted a quick article), because really, do you want an Asian actress purely on principle and because they speak English well? (Just because the Japanese didn’t have an issue means it should be nothing – IMO people don’t realize “colonial mentality” and the skin care “whitening” products). That’s not my issue. They switched out one of the teammates for a female which I didn’t understand. My issue is that they were not more faithful. In the Keira K version of Pride and Prejudice, they left out dialogue that made Jane Austen’s work timeless. In ghost, the core is philosophical. The anime made you think in a broader sense of living longer and working harder though cyborg shells. The idea of having a second life in this movie is short sighted and obvious. This movie made a Romeo and Juliet esq romance of not that they are from rival families – only in the “doomed” love aspect with the hacker. She’s a runaway? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN WHY EVERYONE CALLS HER THE MAJOR it’s not a nickname – IT’S A G——N TITLE SHE EARNED. I felt like she was treated as a porcelain doll. It felt like she was a cyborg version of Captain America because her mind, body, what have you have seemingly accepted her cyborg parts which the beta test (Kuze) didn’t and his mind went nuts reminiscent of Agent Smith from The Matrix.
There are parts that are directly from the movie. Good job. But what about the other members of section 9. Aramaki and the team have been reduced to supporting characters. Aramaki had at times not agreed with Majors decision but he respected it. But to me, he was not a predominantly father figure like he was depicted in the live action. The team is reduced to extraction mode when “rescuing” the Major. They obviously touch on Batou’s unrequited love for the Major.
Again, the movie falls short, but it’s a blockbuster which are traditionally escapist movies. Fan’s will be outraged at plot holes and its “cliff notes” approach to the overall series. It’s visuals distract from the philosophical debate that makes ghost in the shell a beloved anime.
I did read another article that better articulates my sentiment. I will include it here when I find it.
ICYMI: HR Interview with 4 Japanese Actresses: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/ghost-shell-4-japanese-actresses-dissect-movie-whitewashing-twist-990956