Another trailer and we’ve got a clearer idea of what the film is going to try and do. Rather than going for say, The Laughing Man storyline from the anime, or looking into the original manga for some good storylines, it seems like a straight up remake of the amazing original film. That could be a problem- because its setting itself against an impossibly high bar. The film was groundbraking in its use of animation, and it was a film that was subtley harrowing, a film you felt rather than saw. I think that this version is going to be very Hollywood and lose its depth.
First off, the Americanism really, really shows. We’ve got a clearly Japanese setting, full of Japanese cyberpunk visuals (more reminiscent of Western works like Bladerunner or Neuromancer than anything from Japan), and yet we have a white woman running around speaking in an American accent, a bunch of white and black people with Japanese names blasting things in the most Hollywood style possible. The Japanese visuals they do show- the Geisha and the Carp- seem pulled out of Japanese culture rather haphazardly with little thought to their meaning or context aside from ‘ooh, this looks cool and Asian’. While the original Anime subtly emanated Japanese culture through its world (or Hong Kong in the case of the original movie), this feels more like a Tourist Shop vision of Japan. Beautiful, but ultimately lacking meaning behind the Geishas and kimonos.
Second, it looks like we’re getting a more emotional- and very human, very feminine-Major. Part of the conflict of Ghost In The Shell was that with all that remained of her human biology being a few brain cells, was she even still human or had she become more machine. A very cold, detached Major was more profound because it really made her question of whether her humanity was lost in all the wires, all the shells, all the more real. As for gender, Major Kusanagi, a female in the highly male dominated Japanese police force, was the most powerful and the most traditionally masculine one there; it asked questions like ‘was Major always a woman, or did she have the brain of a man?’ ‘Without hormones or a male and female body, which you could chose at whim, what did gender even mean anymore?’
A more emotional, vulnerable Major is perhaps more human and easier to emphasise with and more accessible to a mainstream audience, but it loses so much of the point and the conflict of The Major’s character.
All in all, it is still just a trailer and I will reserve judgement on the film, but so far it looks like it will be a very cool Hollywood film that copies the look of the original, but doesn’t quite capture what made it more than just another sci fi action.