I’m a huge anime fan. Many people are, and for good reason. Anime has a way of telling awesome stories in ways that are unique. Anime has a way of influencing a person in ways that you would never consider. One of the anime that I would consider a classic and a must watch is Ghost in the Shell. This is a classic manga series that eventually got turned into a classic anime (television series), and it’s about the futuristic crime fighting division called Public Security Section 9, whose job it is to deal with cyber terrorism in a society that’s not unlike our own. If you’re a person that knows about Ghost in the Shell, you’d know that it actually speaks to the time we’re living in now. That’s why the new live-action version of Ghost in the Shell that’s coming out could not be coming at a better time.
Even though we’re excited about this upcoming film, anyone who’s seen a film based on an anime knows that we have reasons to be a little worried. After all, not too many live action adaptations of anime franchises have stood the test of time. That being said, this Ghost in the Shell movie has a lot of potential, and I for one am really excited about it. If you’re reading this, you probably are too. If you’re new to the franchise, I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will tell you some things about Ghost in the Shell that you might not know. Here are 15 things that you might not know about Ghost in the Shell, and the upcoming movie.
15. All The Versions
There are a ton of different versions of this franchise that you can take in. Sure, there’s the manga, the anime, and the live action film, but there are a ton of other things that you can watch. Ghost in the Shell has existed in a bunch of different ways since its creation as a long-running manga series that ran from 1989 to 2007. That was popular enough, but the anime took the series into the mainstream. There was a sequel, the reboot, the movies, and a direct to video series. That direct to video series was actually a reboot that put the characters into a totally different setting. Needless to say, this movie is not going to have any trouble with the source material to draw upon.
14. This Is Not The First Live Action Anime Film Ever Made
Anyone who loves anime knows that for as long as the medium has existed, people have tried to make live action adaptations of it. There was a point in the 1990s and 2000s where everyone was trying to make a motion picture based on an anime or manga series. Unfortunately, those movies have been very, very hit or miss. To be honest, that’s putting it kindly: a lot of anime live action movies have been real stinkers. One good example of a real stinker of a movie was the live action Dragonball Z movie. Not even Fiona from Shameless could save that one (and I say this as a huge fan of her work, too). Naruto and Bleach have also had their turn, as has the Wachowski sisters movie Speed Racer. Some of these movies were passable, but others were real stinkers. Hopefully, Ghost in the Shell gives us something more to look forward to.
13. This Isn’t Even The First Live Action Ghost in the Shell Movie Ever Made
While we’ve talked about different anime franchises that have been made into live action movies, we’ve totally neglected the fact that this live action Ghost in the Shell is not the first one. People have been trying to make a big movie of this for years now, ever since DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg secured the rights in 2008. Over the last nine years, multiple producers, writers, and actors have come into and out of the project, and the studio hasn’t really gotten the chance to make the movie, in large part thanks to how badly live action adaptations tend to do in the theaters. However, before this movie was made, a smaller group called Project 2501 managed to put together their own showing. It’s not the Hollywood version, but it’s definitely an awesome labor of love that’s totally worth watching. You can tell that it was made with love for the franchise in mind rather than for a profit, which is a really good thing and kind of refreshing in the movie business.
12. But It Was The First To Be Released In Japan, Britain, and America At The Same Time
Ghost in the Shell was the very first anime film to get released at the same time in different places other than Japan. There are a lot of movies that ended up getting an American or British release after their Japanese release, but none had gotten that release at the same time until this movie. The goal of doing that was to try and bring this movie to a more mainstream audience, most notably an international audience. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t end up getting the success it deserved when it was out in theaters. On the upside, it ended up becoming a DVD sleeper hit, making it quite the cult classic.
11. The Whitewashing Debate
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, not because of the content, but because of the casting. While Scarlett Johansson is a perfectly fine actress who’s done really well with movies like this, there’s been an ongoing debate on whether she was an appropriate choice to play Major Mokoto Kusanagi. For one, her personality is different in every iteration of Ghost in the Shell. For another, Kusanagi is very clearly Japanese, and Johannson is very much not Japanese. Ethnicity can be a little vague in anime and manga at times, but this is a story set in Japan and is always done by Japanese creators, so it stands to reason that the character is Japanese. Remember The Last Airbender? When a character isn’t white, you should go out of your way to not cast them as white.
10. There’s A Lot Of Nudity
There is almost an aggressive amount of nudity in this franchise. That’s probably why Scarlett Johansson got cast in the first place. The nudity is written into the series, so thankfully, it’s not like they’re just shoehorning in lots of nudity for no reason. The Internet was totally freaking out about the casting, and they were even more excited when Margot Robbie of Suicide Squad fame was in talks to take the role herself. While the nudity is canonical and written into the story well, it’s really easy to get desensitized to it and wonder why it has to be so gratuitous. Some people are probably going to be really underwhelmed by that decision, especially considering the debate about excessive nudity basically everywhere nowadays. However, since the nudity is canonical, it’s not like we’re dealing with nudity for nudity’s sake, at least in relation to the story.
9. The Nudity Comes From A Real Place
There’s a reason why the Major is clad in so little clothing throughout the story canonically: she’s a robot person. Because she’s a robot person, she simply doesn’t care about being naked and doesn’t have the same hangups about it. While she might not care about being naked all the time, the Internet certainly does, and chances are Hollywood’s going to take that freewheeling spirit and run with it. Some people are probably going to be really underwhelmed by that decision, especially considering the debate about excessive nudity basically everywhere nowadays. That being said, Scarlett Johannson does a good job with badass female characters who aren’t sexualized, so it would be a little disappointing to see the character disappear behind her own nudity on the big screen.
8. The Creator Is Kind Of Pervy
When I say that Mamoru Oshii is “kind of pervy” I mean that he’s really pervy. There’s a reason why there’s so much nudity in the show that has nothing to do with the canonical reasons for it. In the time between the original and the sequel, Oshii was taking the time to do these weird fetish illustrations. Needless to say, the man enjoys his fair share of nudity and threw as much of it as he could in Ghost in the Shell. He did the world a favor by cutting down on the sheer scale of nudity in his film because there’s just so much in the original material. There are even threesome scenes that didn’t make it into the English version. While there’s a reason for all the nudity in the canon, if we’re being totally honest, there’s no real reason for all of that happening all the time. I’m not here to kink shame or anything, but it’s not like we need all of that nudity, and hopefully we don’t have quite that much.
7. Basset Hounds Are Everywhere
Mamoru Oshii doesn’t just like excessive nudity, he likes basset hounds, too. He puts basset hounds in basically all of his works and has owned a lot of them over the years. The best example of basset hounds showing up everywhere is his film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. The basset hound is actually important symbolism in that one. Consider this quote: “This body you see before you is an empty shell. The dog represents my body. Human beings can be free only if they free themselves from their bodies. When I am playing around with my dog, I forget that I am a human being, and it’s only then that I feel free.” The quote is self-explanatory, and I can promise you that this movie will have some basset hounds in it. Either that, or it’s not a complete adaptation.
6. It’s Philosophical
That quote about dogs from before might have tipped you off, but Ghost in the Shell isn’t your ordinary anime about robots. While this franchise has a ton of action and fanservice, the thing that makes it special is the philosophy behind everything. Ghost in the Shell focuses on issues of consciousness, the concept of body and soul, and what happens when machines achieve sentience. These are interesting things to talk about, especially now. We live in the world of smartphones, social media and sex robots, so these themes are very important to think about. Sure, they also tackle modern issues of the internet and virtual reality, but it’s those concepts that really stick with you when you watch the series.
5. It Got Here First
Hollywood has been mining the themes in Ghost in the Shell for years now, and you can argue that Ghost in the Shell is the inspiration for a lot of things that you wouldn’t necessarily think borrowed from it. Remember Avatar from James Cameron? That movie shares themes with this franchise. AI: Artificial Intelligence from Steven Spielberg does too. While those movies are pretty noteworthy from borrowing from this anime, the biggest borrowers are the Wachowski sisters with the Matrix. While they borrowed from a lot of things, they borrowed from Ghost in the Shell the most. This just goes to show that most ideas out there right now aren’t original, and this isn’t a bad thing.
4. No, Seriously, The Matrix Borrows Off Of This Franchise A Lot
No one had seen anything like the Matrix when it came out, except for fans of Ghost in the Shell. The Matrix borrows from martial arts movies, philosophers, and Philip K. Dick stories, but they mainly took their inspiration from the series. We touched on that a bit, but we need to get into it just a little more. The main story of The Matrix involves people hijacking reality and navigating life in a computer simulation, and the philosophical struggles of a subjective reality. That’s basically what we’re dealing with in this series. Actually, when the Wachowskis pitched the film to Joel Silver, the producer, they did it by including a copy of Ghost in the Shell and said outright that they were trying to make their series like that.
3. They Quote The Bible
Ghost in the Shell doesn’t just take inspiration from philosophers and technology. They’ve been known to take quotes straight out of the Bible. A lot of works get inspiration from the Bible in some way, but not many directly quote the Bible the way Ghost in the Shell did. This dialogue from the film is lifted right out of 1 Corinthians 13: “When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways. What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face.”
2. Robot Feminism
One of the side characters in Ghost in the Shell was based on a real professor. Forensic analyst Ms. Haraway was based on a real person named Donna Haraway. She believed that in order for women to truly be equal and free from the domination of men, they had to become cyborgs. According to her, women need to get more familiar with technology and less familiar with what defines a female. She’s actually gone on record as saying that anything that purports to define what being a woman is shouldn’t exist. One of her more famous quotes has her saying that she’d prefer to be a cyborg than a goddess. Those are some pretty strong words. She’s got a lot of ideas about how the key to empowerment for women is robots, so if you’re interested, look her up!
1. It Has The Potential To Be Awesome… But Will It?
Ghost in the Shell has the potential to be really great. The source material is solid, there’s a lot to unpack thematically, and there’s a ton of fanservice of both the sexy and the violent variety. It’s inventive, original, and has stood the test of time for decades now. There’s no reason why this movie shouldn’t be awesome. Unfortunately, our past experience with live action anime adaptations tells us that even the most awesome source material can get bastardized into a truly terrible movie. There’s also the issue of the casting controversy and the fact that the director is the guy behind Snow White and the Huntsman, a decidedly middling movie. This is also the inspiration for a lot of very good movies, and there’s a distinct possibility that people might just dismiss this because “they’ve seen it all before,” not realizing that this franchise helped make those possible. Only time will tell where the chips fall with this one.