Ghost in the Shell (GitS) is one of the most cherished anime movies of all time. Standing with the likes of Otomo's classic Akira and Miyazaki's best works, GitS is one of the films that brought the genre into the spotlight. With it's futuristic, but not too outlandish plot, it was only a matter of time until it was remade for western audiences.
Fast forward to 2017 and we have the new film looming on the horizon. Produced by Dreamworks / Paramount and starring Scarlett Johansson, it's certainly looking like an impressive big-budget adaption, but I can't help but feel it's going to be a little different from the classic film and series. With that in mind, I think it's time to take a look at some of the things that probably aren't going to make it to the big screen version of Ghost in the Shell.
If you've watched the Stand Alone Complex series, then you're familiar with these cute little machines of war. They are agile spider-like tanks about the size of a car with a number of physical and cyber weapons. In the series, they are used as combat support for Section 9 and can be piloted by a human or by their onboard AI.
It's the AI that have made the Tachikoma a fan favorite. In the series, they are represented as being almost childlike. They are curious, friendly and even have young sounding voices. Despite being purely synthetic it's hard not to warm to them like you would any other beloved character.
At present, there is no sign of them in the trailers for the movie. While it's possible they might show up, it's likely their lightheartedness might be at odds with the movie's gritty tones.
2, The Laughing Man
The main antagonist from the first season of Stand Alone Complex. The Laughing Man was a gifted hacker who committed crimes and got away with them thanks to his supreme hacking skills. In the cyber enhanced world of GitS, this allowed him to hack peoples cybernetic eyes or hijack people's upgraded brains.
The main bad guy for the movie has been confirmed as Kuze (played by Michael Pitt), a member of the Season 2 SaC bad guys, the Individual Eleven. However, it may not be as simple as we think. As at times, it's been hinted that Pitt's character may call himself the Laughing Man.
Until the film is released we won't know for sure, but it's likely the Kuze of the movie will be an amalgamation of Kuze, the Laughing Man and maybe even...
3, The Puppet Master.
As with the Laughing Man, this is another antagonist that won't be showing up like they originally did. The Puppet Master was the primary bad guy in both the original film and the original manga. A cunning villain who could effectively hijack a cyber-enhanced person's body without their knowledge.
While this is possibly the enemy most people know, the studio has decided to go with what seems to be a more easily understood threat. Kuze has ties to The Major's past and will work better with people who are not familiar with the GitS universe. On the other hand, the Puppet Master is altogether more enigmatic and may be a lot for most audiences to get their heads around. Although in the end, film Kuze may incorporate elements of the Puppet master, the Laughing man and anime Kuze into one package.
4, Hardcore lesbian cyber sex
Yep, you read that right, while I haven't seen the film, I think that a few scenes from the manga won't make it onto the screen. In both manga and anime, the Major is shown to have relationships with both men and women. Indeed in the original print edition, there is at least one splash page depicting a pretty graphic lesbian three way involving The Major.
The teasers we have seen hint that some element of that still exists, at least with the major kissing a female, but it's unlikely they will go as far as they do in the manga.
5, Japanese actors in a starring role.
This has been the controversy since the movie, and it's star, we're announced. A film, based on a Japanese story, set in Japan and using characters who were originally Japanese, does not have a Japanese main star. The highest billed Japanese actor is the always awesome Takeshi Kitano, but in what is, at best, a supporting role.
I'm not going to wade into the argument on either side. I respect Scarlett as a great actress and understand the need for international appeal. I also feel that this a Japanese story and should have gone to one of the many great and talented actors from that country. Whatever you feel, it's a fact that the main character is now American and (according to IMDB) is simply called "The Major" and not Motoko Kusanagi.