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Tag Archives: Motoko Kusanagi


Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

tl;dr – a very good retelling of the original

Possible spoilers below. See my previous posts here and here about the film.

Thoughts, in no particular order:

1- Visually and aesthetically impeccable. Director Rupert Sanders did an excellent job of portraying a society figuring out its relationship with acute, mechanical, physical augmentation. He skirts the line between its usefulness and nightmarishness, though with the subject matter and the people involved, we see more of the nightmare aspect.

2- Mostly followed the plot points and thematic elements of the original, though obviously it much more Westernized: there’s less philosophy, more conflict, and a less open-ended resolution. There were times things where characters turned narrator and it kind of broke the spell, particularly the first scene where the setup of the Major’s creation was over-explained by the computer-intercom.

3- Related to #3, as I had predicted, the “I’m going to kill my creator” sentiment is there, a sentiment that is wholly absent from the original. This was to be expected since Western-philosophy based folks have (at least) a mild fear of metaphysical/supernatural phenomena, and it seems that sci-fi, as it is embracing a lot of transhumanism and artificial life-creation scenarios, is being expressed as a kind of wish-fulfillment at being able to “get back” at our creator. Since man can barely rebel against God, much less commit deicide, positing “God” to the natural level, as a literal creator, gives us physical access to Him.

4- Regarding the whitewashing accusations: that Motoko is basically Anglo in appearance is fairly central to the plot; her completely artificial body needed to look different that her original, Japanese one. Progressives don’t need to wring their hands anymore about any of this, and Rupert culturally appropriated Western-style diversity into the cast that wasn’t there in the highly monocultural Japanese version. From what I could see, one or two characters in Section 9 were blackened or feminized. The two antagonists are, thankfully, White Folk, though the Antagonist You Didn’t Expect redeems his/herself nearing the resolution. The Head Evil White is male, as expected.

5- Pure trivia: Togusa, in the original, used a Mateba auto-revolver. In the film, it was an older-style gun compared to the more advanced tech (it was emphasized that he was purely natural/non-enhanced and his handgun reflected that), and in the real world, they are not manufactured anymore. There was a scene in the 2017 version where Togusa very noticeably uses a Chiappa Rhino handgun, which was modeled after after the Mateba design, and share the same designer.

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 20

Shut Up About ‘Whitewashing’ in Ghost in the Shell 2017
Good idea, since “cultural appropriation” is usually a one-way criticism. I didn’t like the idea of Motoko played by an Anglo actress for different reasons, but the narrator makes a decent case against it. A related video.

A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him: February 24th Mass Ritual
Did this do anything?

Ancient Toilet Reveals the Unique Way the Judeans Fought Idol-worship
Wonderfully intolerant and exclusive.

Questioning the “Science Says” Attitude
Someone should write a browser plugin that will replace all the “Science Says” articles with “Survey Says,” and replace any article photos with action shots of Richard Dawson. Speaking of stupid ideas…

STUPID SHIT NO ONE NEEDS & TERRIBLE IDEAS HACKATHON
These are not stupid ideas.

Here Is Why You Should Stop Using PDFs for Your Restaurant Menus
No more PDF pages!

Why You Need to Stop Using PDFs on Your School’s Website. Now.
I said no more!

Underworld Inc: Illegal Hand Made Colt 1911 Pistols Ghost Gun
“I live in a haunted house. How can i get a hold of one of these ‘ghost-guns’? Also, where can i get some ghost-bullets?”

Death metal music attracts sharks, documentary crew finds out
Via Jill.

Boston Dynamics’ New Robot Dog Is Defeated By Banana Peels
Slipping and falling like any ambulatory creature isn’t really being “defeated.” They were probably using the peels to show how it recovers from a fall—which it did successfully. Original video here.

Chris Rock Draws Laughs, Controversy at Salesforce Sales Meeting
If someone gets offended, a comedian did his job right.

They Will Say They Had No Choice
“It will be a rather quiet revolution.”

Official Ghost in the Shell Trailer

I have to admit, it doesn’t look bad at all; they’ve mirrored some iconic scenes from the original. My only qualm is how it seems director Rupert Sanders is treating Motoko’s identity crises, and it’s important because that was the theme of the original film. How can we know ourselves? What separates us from, and connects us to, another? How do we cope with incompleteness? Sanders is framing it as a Bourne-Neo-Wolverine-Robocop “whoever did this to me will pay” revenge story, which definitely deviates from the source material, probably because it’s being marketed to Western audiences. If I can read into it too much, that existential questions are solved primarily by discovering (and likely killing) your creator is a sign of neurosis and not a real desire for self-discovery.

At What Point Does Nancy Drew Become Not Nancy Drew?

There’s a pilot ordered for a Nancy Drew series on CBS:

Described as a contemporary take on the character from the iconic Nancy Drew book series, the CBS project will center around a diverse, 30-something title character. A more mature version than the classic story, Nancy is now detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world.

So…it’s basically another hour-long crime drama, and dare I call this darkwashing? Nancy Drew—yes, I read some of the books when I was younger—went through a lot of changes and iterations since the books started in the 30s, but three things were constant: she was white, suburban, and a girl. This depiction destroys two and a quarte of these things…the “quarter” part comes in because Drew was depicted as a teenager or a college-to-mid-twenties aged person. I don’t remember her being thirty years old at all, and thank God they didn’t make her a man. It’s sillier than making Thor a woman or Dr. Watson a Chinese woman living in America, but not as silly as using a half-Danish, half-Jewish actress portray Motoko Kusanagi from the upcoming Ghost in the Shell live action film. Don Quixote as an Indian auntie? Wonder Woman as a man? When does the Ship of Theseus become another ship?

But there’s degrees to this, and the live action version of Ghost in the Shell compared to its more canon material is a good specimen. Casting Scarlett Johansson as Kusanagi is wrong for fundamental plot/expository reasons: Kusanagi is an ethnic Japanese, a Japanese national, heavily involved with Tokyo politics and white-collar, technological crime. All of her prosthetic bodies are female and Japanese (there’s even an episode where a colleague asks why she chooses the same body type every consciousness transfer). Contrast this with the casting of as her co-protag, Batou. Batou is a French national that got involved with Shell’s Section 9 during a world war. Pilou Asbæk is portraying him in the 2017 film, yet he is half-French and Half-Danish, and a Danish citizen. Not completely off the mark, especially physiognomically, even if Asbæk were a 100% Dane. Batou’s Frenchness could be rewritten since it’s not essential to his character; that he’s not Japanese is, and Asbæk would still fit that bill.