I COULD TELL YOU WHY GHOST IN THE SHELL ISN’T DOING SO WELL, AND ITS NOT JUST WHITE WASHING

1. THE NUDE SUIT MAKES WOMEN GO ‘NO THANKS’

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It used to be common wisdom that marketing to women was financial suicide, and that if you had two women passing the Betchdel then the testes of all the men in the audience would shrivel and die as they wept in the corner, disgusted and horrified by the revelation that women might be people.

But who knew? Apparently men (well the majority, anyway) aren’t crazed mysogynists,  and appealing to the other 50% of the population is profitable. Look at the explosive success of both Frozen and Beauty and The Beast. It should have been obvious that if you’ve got a female lead film with a popular actress, then female audiences should be part of your target demographic. But they alienated them with that stupid naked, fetishistic suit which made no sense whatsoever.

The original Ghost In The Shell movies is a classic, but that naked suit was ridiculous then and the one thing that SHOULD have been thrown to the wayside.

2. IT FORGOT TO TELL A COMPELLING STORY

I’ve read a lot of reviews for this film.While there are plenty of fans upset by the arse f@cking alterisations this classic recieved, and plenty of others upset by the white washing, there are lots of new viewers who care about neither issue that were just bored.

If you a film’s got an inheritely crowd pleasing idea like sexy vampires or superheroes pummeling each other, then it can get away with lackluster storytelling with the right marketing. GITS didn’t have that luxury, so bottom line is that  it needed to be a good movie to make an impression, and this just didn’t cut it.

3. IT KICKED FANS OF THE ORIGINAL IN THE FACE

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This was a big problem. It transformed a thoughtful, philosophical sci fi film which asked a lot of deep questions about identity, what makes a person ‘them’, or even ‘male’ or ‘female’ if the physical form is easily discarded- into a generic revenge flick against a Big Mean corporation. It bears more in common with Neuromancer and its heroine Molly Millions than it did to GITS and the goddamned Major.

The only things thing they did to make it connect to the franchise is to include a few cyberpunk elements, recreate a few scenes devoid of the meaning or context of the original, and kept the stupid naked suit. It bore so little resemblence to the spirit of the original, that there was no reason to even make it part of the franchise in the first place.

4. IT MARKED A CYBERPUNK FILM IN 2016

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This would have done well during Disney’s Renaissance, but the audience has moved on

Yeah, timeliness and marketing are everything. Look at Princess and The Frog for instance. Although it had a good story (albeit not an excellent one), it didn’t do as well because it was released at a time when computer animation was in and handrawn animation was being relegated to the small screen. Sure, it cashed in on nostalgia for older viewers, but a nostalgic Disney film isn’t going to appeal to the kids.

This film makes the same error; it looks and feels like Blade Runner. But cyberpunk is a very 90s genre, when we still had no clue what cyberspace was or what the internet were going to turn out like. Giving a film an aesthetic that had its heydey decades ago while bringing nothing new to the table is not a good marketing move.

5. DID YOU NOT SEE THE #OSCARSSOWHITE?

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Look, whitewashing has been an extremely contentious issue recently. While most audiences genuinely don’t care that much about whitewashing, the fact is that it is a big hot button issue. So of course, when media outlets that would usually provide free publicity ask questions, they’re all going to centre around that issue . As a result, the only thing people were hearing about the film was its white washing, and that certainly isn’t endearing.

Writers, if you REALLY believed that a non white actress doesn’t hold ‘mass market appeal’, then you could have avoided all this by just creating your own robot film– or derived it from a Western franchise like The Bionic Woman or Terminator.If you did that you could even pretend to be progressive without putting in any work. You’d already get points for having a female action lead.

All you’d need to do from there is include a token Asian and have someone like your now Not!Batou  make a very ambiguous statement about his sexuality and voila! You’re now progressive! (actually, he’s tool masculine, that tends to upset people because there has never been a manly gay man ever. Make that Not!Togusa)

But speaking of existing franchises, we also have this problem.

6. PEOPLE ARE GETTING EXHAUSTED WITH ENDLESS SEQUELS AND REBOOTS

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Creativity, creativity, why have you forsaken thee

Disney are getting away with it (for now) because their reboots are a visually interesting and manage to at least be passable. But overall, the audience is getting tired of reboots. So releasing a film that is (a) mediocre in terms of storytelling (b) unfaithful to the spirit of the source material (c) manages to repel women in spite of being female lead and (d) has a controversy that dominates the talk of the film… you’ve got a box office bomb on your hands.

And that, my friends, is why GITS tanked.

FIRST LOOK: Full Metal Alchemist The Movie (2017)

It’s a great year for anime adaptions. Ghost in the Shell is getting a movie, there’s another Death Note film being made in the USA, where hopefully the monsters will look less like they came from a low budget PS2 game. Now, Full Metal Alchemist– the series that spawned two of the most beloved shounen anime of all time- is getting a live action film.

I like the look of Edward Elric, who has hair of a true anime hero which must take hours each day to do; however, I am suspicious why we didn’t see him use his Alchemy and just got a load of cutting from Edward to the alchemy symbol. The huge cast of fleshed out characters and the nuanced portrayal of conflict where even the big bads seemed somewhat humanized, can’t make a mark in just an hour- but they could at least make with the cool battles we loved to watch? This better not be like ATLA where it was just a bunch of guys fusing their mind powers to fling rocks around which made you wonder why they didn’t just throw the things. Hopefully its budget will be better than this trailer suggests, so I shall move forward sceptical but not without hope

Also, is it somewhat weird that Attack On Titan and Full Metal Alchemist were set in Europe (or vague European land) and its made by and filled with a load of Japanese people (though this is accurate for Mikasa), while Ghost In The Shell and Death Note  are Japanese but filled with white people?

 

FIRST LOOK: Ghost In The Shell Full Trailer

 

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.

 

REVIEW: MANGA SHAKESPEARE, A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTS DREAM- illustrated by Kate Brown

Shakespeare’s enduring characters are set adrift in present-day Athens, but a present with a massive difference – an alternative history. Rigid class systems and `god given’ monarchies of the past have not been lost. Modern technologies meet ancient tradition; and the citizens of Athens are frustrated by continuing restrictions and hierarchies. Only the forest, home to the fairies and fey spirits can offer the illicit lovers what they seek.

You would never think that ‘manga’ and ‘Shakespeare’ would go together hand in glove; however, Brown’s work on A Midsummer’s Night Dream demonstrates why manga is the the perfect medium for studying the work of the Immortal Bard. It allows you to read all the dialogue of the play and also gives it accompanying visual imagery. Unlike with the theatre of movie versions, the manga incarnation allows you to take it in at your own pace and to flip back to previous pages at your leisure. Continue reading REVIEW: MANGA SHAKESPEARE, A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTS DREAM- illustrated by Kate Brown

BOOK REVIEW : THE CRANE LADY by Warabe Wakabayashi

crane ladyThis kindle exclusive is a simple version of a popular Japanese fairy tale aimed at young children. The original fairy tale itself is popular in Japan for good reason, as it has all the storytelling ingredients we expect from a good fairy tale; we have the protagonist rewarded for an act of kindness; the mystery and magic; the hero being warned never to do something, which you know they will do in the end, and the tension throughout the story of waiting for the inevitable to happen.

As far as this retelling goes, however, the writing quality is extremely uneven. It is sadly apparent that English is not the writer’s first language, and in spite of the simplicity of the sentence structures, it did feel like I was reading subtitles, littered with awkward phrasing throughout like:

The old man went to the town to sell the woods.”

or

“He helped Crane from the trap.”

If you want a book for your kids to read to improve their reading ability, this is not one you should give them. But this book was never about the writing quality; the writing’s just a framework to allow Wakabayashi to tell the story through the art.

Warabe Wakabayashi is a Japanese manga artist and she is clearly very talented. You can see from the front cover what the quality of the artwork is like and it’s consistently good throughout the story. The Crane lady herself is breath taking in every picture she appears in, with the vivid colours and textures on the fabrics masterfully drawn. Its unique, beautiful, and wonderful to look at.

The artwork is worth the price of admission and overlooking the awkward phrasing. The beautiful pictures of the magnificent crane lady, and all the vivid patterns and colours that bring to life her beautiful outfits, is definitely something that will appeal to young girls.

RATING:

2.5 warnings to ‘never look in there’ out of 5

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