Ghost In The Shell: GITS ScarJo
“Animated texts can represent to viewers not some stylized fantasy world, but reveal something about the world of actuality. The animated worlds depicted are, actually, part and parcel of our world”- Paul Ward (Animated Interactions: Animation Aesthetics and the World of the ‘Interactive’ , 2006
Too many times movies, comics, manga, and animation become part of our lives as memories we don’t want disrupted. Sacred. Immutable. However, the way Motoko Kusanagi was previously depicted is now being changed because the role will be played by Scarlett Johansson. I understand the early uproar about it and the complaint, “Oh no! An American actress playing a Japanese character. Impossible!” but it happens in most adaptations or remakes. This complaint is the same as someone having a problem with Hugh Jackman, an Australian, playing the Wolverine, a Canadian.
Ghost in the Shell we have many reflective moments of ‘stillness’ that draw attention to the Major’s preoccupation with self, the body and what it means to be human or not, in essence her ‘life’, soul or ‘ghost’. Her issues with who she is are made apparent with sequences where the Major is inanimate, and some of these sequences last for several frames drawing attention to her psychological state of mind. Ghost in the Shell’s preoccupation with identity and gender identity issues, as well as the use of reflective surfaces and images to depict fragmentary identity, is perhaps suggestive of the cross over of narrative theme and stylistics between cinema globally, but perhaps more importantly also the cross over of theme and narrative between anime and live-action which is arguably linked to generic traits- Caroline Ruddell – Breaking Boundaries: The Representation of Split Identity in Anime.
Take a look at the picture. Does she strike you as Japanese? The heart of the character really means anyone can play the role. She is manufactured, made to order just like a Realdoll™. Of course when the news broke of the casting, the internet started demanding a recast. Yet, I believe Scarlett will do an awesome job, just look at her previous films. More than that, she brings a recognizable name and established fan base to the movie.
Next, we come to the westernization of many anime characters, specifically women. How many large busted, tiny waisted Asians are out there? How many blondes? While talking to a friend about this, he mentioned how in anime the popular girl normally looks American while the “friend” looks more traditionally Japanese.
Despite all the complaints about the casting we know how it will turn out – the people that took to the internet to vent their frustrations will still be the first in line. Meanwhile, I will continue to say that Scarlett will do a good job in the role.