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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is one of my favourite anime (or アニメ which is short for the english word “animation”). The Ghost in the Shell anime series is known for its whodunnit story lines, political and bureaucratic red tape, action sequences and philosophical questions. I am absolutely drawn in by the cyberpunk genre, this series being no exception. I most recently watched the ARISE prequels and thought they were beautifully animated and had enough mystery to keep me wanting more.

What makes us alive?

This collection of bio-electro-chemical interactions happening not only along the myelinated lengths of a mass of neurons—specialized single cells supported by glial cells—but also in the interconnected and countlessly finite dendritic synapses we carry within us, all giving rise to consciousness, memory, emotion, thought. What happens when we probe a brain with electrodes and medications to discover how it functions, and finally understand it well enough to interface it with technology? Are you a monist or dualist? Do you believe in the existence of an organic soul? Does your ghost arise from biology? Can we create consciousness with software?

じゃあ、let’s take a look at what 2017 has got in store for Ghost in the Shell, shall we?

Official Trailer #1:

2017 live action movie shelling sequence depicting the assembly of Major Motoko Kusanagi:

Here’s the 1995 anime shelling sequence/intro for comparison (below). This has to be one of the most memorable sequences ever created largely due to its haunting soundtrack.

あが、まえば、てるつき、とよむなり

which I tried hard to translate, and all I could come up with was: “if dancing, the shining moon” … that’s as far as I got.

よばいに、かみ、あまくだりて

“sneaking at night into a girl’s bedroom to make love, god, descends from heaven”. These are just my interpretations because it’s difficult to find any official lyrics. I had to rely on my ears, a dictionary and educated guesses largely because the homonyms in Japanese make the lyrics ambiguous, and you have to guess at the intentions of the artist who wrote them when lyrics aren’t readily available.

For instance とよむなり if interpreted as と読むなり means “and right after reading” or “and the reading sound” or “and reading or …” the later being incomplete, and all can be valid. But I see most people interpreting it as “ringing”/”echoing” which completely ignores とよむ and focuses on なり, or they have a completely incorrect translation for とよむ.

*Sigh* Oh language.

Anyway, the ambiguity only adds to the overall effect of this, again, haunting sequence.

Below is an interview with Scarlett Johansson who will be playing Major Kusanagi, Takeshi Kitano who will be playing Aramaki, and the director Rupert Sanders. Rupert says that any time you cast someone, people are critical of your decision, stating that there are also fans who support him.

While an Asian lead in such a huge film would have sent a message to Hollywood, I don’t think it’s going to hurt the film at all. I’m a little upset, but I’ll still watch it in theatres, with Scarlett’s face being a constant reminder that she’s NOT EVEN ASIAN! Okay, I can totally see the other side, it’s easy to be indifferent or think in a global community that things like this shouldn’t matter so much. Besides Major Kusanagi doesn’t really look Asian to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be racist, instead I am sick the business and creative sides of Hollywood thinking that an Asian lead would alienate their audience or hurt their box-office earnings. But granted, you need to pick your battles wisely, and this is something I can live with. That’s it. I hope you can at least see where the other side is coming from.

Finally, here is a rundown of the setting and characters of Ghost in the Shell from Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer.  She does a pretty great job:

So what do you think?
Are you excited for the film?
Still hurt over the casting of Motoko Kusanagi?
Are you going to watch it?

何を思いますか?
映画を楽しみにですか?
モトコでうれしいですか?
見たいですか?

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