'Ghost In The Shell' Is Not As Bad As The Internet Says

'Ghost In The Shell' Is Not As Bad As The Internet Says

An honest review.

Anime to live action? Is that something that can be done, right?

This is the age old question that, to die-hard anime fans, will never be a reality. Then again, there are some fans like myself who believe that anime to live action can be done justice if given the right circumstances, which most of the time hasn’t been the case.

I have known and been a fan of Ghost in the Shell for many years now, and I've become a more passionate fan in the past couple of years since I did research on the director of the 1995 anime film who is Mamoru Oshii. To give a brief history of Ghost in the Shell, you should probably go read what I already posted about it late last year so it saves time re-explaining everything. But to sum up, it’s a future where cybernetics are everywhere and for everyone, and it focuses on an organization combating cybernetic crimes.

Ghost in the Shell follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a fully cybernetic being that must take down a hacker threatening powerful people in the government, and she must stop them. The 1995 film adds in elements of action and philosophical ideology on what defines humanity and looking into the future of where technology has taken us today. To older anime fans, Ghost in the Shell is still a staple of a fantastic film, and to newer fans, it is a must-see if they’re to dive deeper into their roots as anime fans. Now 20 years later, it was finally time for this film to be adapted to live action, regardless if people wanted it to be or not.

With the new Ghost in the Shell movie being released, this issue comes up once again about the fandom and moral conflicts of making a highly praised anime film and turning it into live action box office bomb. There seems to be one major issue that is over-arcing all the other issues in the live action film: Twitter won't shut up about Hollywood Whitewashing.

When I first heard that Scarlet Johansson was cast to play the Major in this film, I certainly didn’t see a problem with it. Heck, I thought she would be good for the role. In my mind, she proved herself as a strong female actress that can play the tough girl in action movies. Based on how I saw her handle her character in the Avengers films as Black Widow, I thought she would be a great fit for Major Motoko Kusanagi.

I NEVER saw Johansson for her skin tone as any issue when she was cast for Ghost in the Shell as the main character. My first thought was whether as an actress would she be able to pull the role off or not. I even thought of how her personality and demeanor as a strong female lead would blend with Major Kusanagi, and I thought Johansson would fit the role rather nicely. The criticisms at the time that I remember hearing about was the usual fare of “Why does there has to be a live action Ghost in the Shell?”

I feel that people need to complain about their thoughts on an anime to live action adaptation were warranted because that is the usual fare from the anime community. However, I don’t particularly remember the term “whitewashing” ever being a main issue, or anything related to skin tone. Thanks to the world of Twitter, who take pride in knowing this film is bombing hard, they seem to be up at arms to end racism, by of course bringing up race firsthand.

I can go and say with my head held high, that this isn’t a good movie. It is far from a good film and far from the best adaptation. However, I think the film did its best in what I was expecting from it, which I was content with. I would give this film strong praise if it exceeded my already low expectations going into it as nothing more than a mediocre popcorn action flick, which I knew it was going to meet those expectations.

But to say this is “The Worst Anime to Live Action Adaptation” (or better yet WORST FILM EVER!) is a complete and utter worthless statement. I have seen bad films, and bad anime to live action adaptations, and this to me is far and away from being the worst out there. If you want to talk about worst, come talk to me about my thoughts on Aeon Flux, or better yet, Dragonball Evolution. Oh, did you forget that pile of putrid shit? Well, I’ll be more than glad to remind you of how that went down.

The one thing I will give this film full praise on will be its visuals. The people who worked on the designs for this film wanted to do their best in recreating iconic scenes from the 1995 film, which I felt was fantastic on the work they put into it. The city landscape was a busy, futuristic environment while still trying to maintain the ally’s and streets from the original film, which showcased a futuristic utopia with gritty Hong Kong back ally’s from the original film. The visuals are what I was looking forward too, and I felt that the recreation of those in this film is the strongest points of the live action movie.

The issues I had with the film was already things I wasn’t going to get upset over, and that was bringing in some of the best philosophical ethos of humanity and how cybernetics would impact mankind. Although that is one of the strongest points in the original film, it is also rather confusing when someone was to first watch the original. It was for me when I first saw it at 16, and it will be the same from the average moviegoer seeing this film.

The original film is impressive since you can gain more about what the underlying message is trying to say the more you watch it, whereas in this live action film, the film's ethos is straight forward, and not a lot of mental diving is involved. As much as I wanted the original film's themes to be transitioned to live action, it wasn’t going to happen or be retold accurately, but it’s able to get some viewpoints out there that work on a simple scale.

Not to avoid the 10,000-pound elephant in the room, let's get into that whole issue of whitewashing. The film doesn’t even try and hide that the Major is a white female, but explains why she is, which is pretty much why there is so much fury over this movie. The Ghost in the Shell humanistic message about what truly defines a person is about a person's mind and spirit inside a body that defines them being a human and not so much on what people see them as on the outside.

In the original film, the body (or shell) is defined as a host for the ghost, but one of the moral elements defined by the antagonist in the film is that with the net being vast and infinite, a person can exist on there without a body, and if need be transplanted themselves into another body. Based on that ideology, we can even look at our own bodies as the hosts of our minds and souls, that just so happen to be in whatever color skin you are born into. So if you’re able to leave your body to go into another one, while maintaining your own self in mind and spirit, what value does your current body really hold?

If people agree with that idea, then why is race such an issue? Isn’t a person's self-value defined by their own individual worldview, beliefs, and ideas rather than the color of skin? Wouldn’t it be more important for a person’s existence to be known by others and not by one's skin pigmentation, but by their worth to the world in what they did to make it a better place? These were the ideas I’ve interpreted from the original film in what Mamoru Oshii was trying to question, which I believe a person's lifestyle and actions are what determines their worth, not the color of skin. And if this is a solid belief to follow, then why go after this film for “whitewashing”? If anything, if people really saw the original film, they would know that the characters weren’t Asian looking at all; they all had some very tan and white skin.

I can’t do a whole lot in changing the already perceived mindset on why this film isn’t doing that well, but all I can say is I have no issue defending the criticisms this film is receiving for all the wrong reasons. There are issues with this film that makes this not a great film, but the media doesn’t really care all that much about that. It’s about how white people are evil. Period. If you wanna know what really went wrong, I was talking with a friend of mine who pointed out a solid point that seems NO ONE is addressing, and that is marketing. My friend felt that this film was poorly marketed to the general audience, because how would the general audience know of the source material from something that came out 20 years ago (that was already adapted from another source) that only anime fans knew of?

Ghost in the Shell was a hit in some ways, but not to the general populous at that time. Even bad movies do well at the box office if they are marketed well, just look at those Transformers films. The difference from Transformers and Ghost in the Shell is that Transformers was well marketed at the time it came out (talking about the 1980’s cartoon), which everyone knew more about than Ghost in the Shell. That to me is one of its major flaws.

This is what I wanted to say about Ghost in the Shell. If you’re going to hate the film, hate it for the right reasons, and not based on color.

Cover Image Credit: Inverse

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A Tribute to Stephen Hawking

He was here. We were better for it.

Rest In Peace to one of the greatest minds of our time. Most of us can only hope to contribute even a fraction to our human earth’s identity, knowledge, and culture as this brilliant man. Nobody knows how many almost-known secrets of the universe silently pass with him, and sleep for centuries until another generation rediscovers the paths he started — a legacy the icons of scientific discovery have continuously left before him, and surely will after. Condolences with his family and friends, to whom he was not a great explorer of the unknown or a symbol of resilience and excellence against all odds, but merely a man who they loved.

To the people like me, the bullied childhood nerds relentlessly assaulted with accusations and otherness with their only crime being relentless curiosity, the overambitious kids from less-than-promising backgrounds, the very-flawed very-human questioners restlessly Wondering and wandering and longing to understand Everything, the ones so used to being underestimated they can’t tell which inner voice is self-doubt and which is a memory... people like Hawking have always been bright shining lights in the dark.

I want to ask note, briefly, with respect to my own privacy - as someone like me, who was told at a young age I was going to die, and felt at a young age that my body was trying to, and was surrounded by open-ended evidence that a diagnosis would define me and put a loud limiting countdown on my life, Hawking’s defiance of medical odds mattered. He did it for himself, not for all of us, but it mattered.

And as someone who watched her own mother be diagnosed with a short life expectancy, plagued with excruciating pain, and told to expect decay of quality of life and function for as long as Time was endured... Hawking’s story mattered. He outlived a death sentence with shining colors - how man can say that?

My mom being told over and over she had less than 6 months rings in my ears all the time. The first time was 5 years ago, when I was just 17, and I’ve never stopped feeling lost. I’ve never stopped feeling like another shoe is about to drop. I’ve never stopped feeling like at any minute, I could lose everything. I’ve never stopped feeling on edge. I’ve never stopped having the thought creep in as fall asleep at night, like we are all counting the days of borrowed time. Any missed call freaks me out. Any time away from home freaks me out. Any conversations not spent laughing and distracted freak me out. Silence and stillness and seriousness freaks me out. Doctors, hospitals, sickness, closeness, rain-checks, the list goes on.

But I’ve also understood a lot of things in mortality that you can’t have a theoretical knowledge of. You have to feel it. Optimism. Emptiness. Stillness. Grief. Preparatory grief. Dread. Inevitability. Shutting your mind off consciously just to enjoy a moment. Enjoying the moment. Sunlight on your skin. Hugs you don’t want to let go of. Voices you’re scared to forget. Looking at the world around you to see what is missing in you. What it means to memorize the way an ocean sounds, or what the air feels like. What it means to run. What it means to heal. What it means to need someone, and to need something. To take an internal audit of your own life and know what you’ll sacrifice for what or who, what your life-or-death priorities are. What it means to hope. To seek a purpose. To cling to stories like fables and religious anecdotes. To collect examples of people who have Survived This as proof you can present to the other side of your own mind that’s crippling itself with What Ifs. To see someone do something and start to believe you just might make it.

I don’t remember when I latched onto Hawking’s story, or others like him. (I’m a girl with campaign quotes from Jared Padalecki tattooed on both wrists, so clearly I’ve seen some stuff, and clearly I’ve felt some stuff, and clearly I’m not above or averse to shamelessly finding my own heroes).

I know SH didn’t seem the type to appreciate a certain brand sentimentality, especially the spiritual kind. (If I had ever written a letter, and I didn’t, I wouldn’t have dared mention my private convictions about destiny, unwavering as they’ve been - especially the last decade, and the last 5 years.)

Instead, I’ll say this: he got his diagnosis and his sentence, and he said “not me” and went on to live, ferociously, a full lifetime. And that was enough. And it wasn’t enough. He made a business out of the extraordinary. He went on to change the whole world.

Who laughs now? Who doubts in looking at his legacy, as we all think in eulogies, that he did exactly what he set out to do?

I don’t know if he was happy, if he had regrets, if he was troubled by his quality of life. All I know is what the people said, and his rejection of that, and that he did it on his terms.

And when you’re laughed at, and maybe feeling cursed by whatever idea of God or Universe or random chance you believe in, you feel out of control until you take control. No one gives your life back until you take it back. If you do. He did.

You stare death and agony in the face, and if you beat that - what can stop you? He made the Universe confess to him with a hand and a mind.

Imagine what’s possible when you decide “impossible” can always, always be followed with “until now”.

RIP Mr. Hawking. I didn’t know you. I don’t understand half of your work, though I’ve tried. I don’t know if you would have laughed at me, and my silly ideas about things, and the false equivalencies I draw between our lives under the loose justification of “heroes” and “inspiration.”

I don’t know if you loved having a world of witnesses in your struggle, or if you even packaged fame and life-with-challenges that way in your worldview. But for what you did, what you shared, how you lived, and how you allowed so many eyes on your legacy, I thank you and I honor your memory.

I know that this sounds as if I have made this event somehow about me, which it is not. My intention is rather to say, this is a life he has touched, and utterly unremarkable in an army of admirers but completely remarkable all at once. Like each of us in our momentous insignificance in Sagan’s pale blue dot.

We are better for his presence and lesser for his absence. What more can each of us hope the world will say at the end of our lives?

He was here. We were better for it. May he find peace.

Cover Image Credit: cnn.com

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7 Golden Reasons To Watch 'Tangled: The Series' No Matter How Old You Are

Does a really enticing mystery not already make you want to watch?!

Before I even start, I want to get something out of the way: I am not too old for this show. Literally no one on this good green Earth is too old for this show. No matter your age, gender, or if you're even one of those heathens who didn't like "Tangled," Disney Junior's new show "Tangled: The Series" just finished season one, and I'm constantly googling when season two will hit the TV.

I don't care it's a Disney Junior show! It's well done, has a great cast and a fabulous story line! I love it! Die mad about it! Because there's literally no possible way I won't stand on a soap box and defend my position, here are seven reasons you should catch up on this show before season two comes rolling along.

1. They solved a diversity problem.

One of the few complaints "Tangled" got was their utter lack of diversity. The entire cast was white, with absolutely no people of any other ethnicity or color.

"But wait!" you cry. "Surely there wasn't any other race in this most likely European country at the time?"

Well, my uneducated friend, while Europe was almost entirely white, there were people of color there. We just don't like to talk about it because it was a pretty ugly scene for those unlucky few because you know, racism.

But now we got Lance, a black man who was Eugene's childhood friend and honestly, one of my new favorite characters. And one little thief girl who is Asian and her adopted ginger sister. This sounds bad, but it's actually an adorable episode.

2. The new characters don't suck.

One problem with shows like these is that the introduced characters are often just god-awfully cringe. But not in this case!

There are three new characters that are really important. Cassandra, Rapunzel's lady in waiting/bad-ass warrior woman and the adopted daughter of the Royal Guard captain. (Who quite honestly, is kind of a better girl power model than Rapunzel. Her hair is dark, cut short, often messy, she doesn't have perfect blue eyes, plus she doesn't have a perfect hourglass figure like Rapunzel. Best of all, she doesn't need no man to be happy and a bad-ass.)

Lance, who I discussed before, is Eugene's childhood friend. Though at first annoying and kind of a jerk, Lance becomes endearing and quite hilarious as time goes on.

Finally, there's the 14-year-old alchemist, Varian, who...well, I'll have to explain him somewhere else...

3. The old cast plays the characters.

A problem that often comes up with shows that continue on from movies is casting. However, here it's no issue, because the people who played the original cast return for the show! It's amazing to hear Rapunzel and Eugene back just as they were.

4. Good music

While we of course need our basic cheesy songs, the music of "Tangled: The Series" is actually really, really good!

5. A legitimate, interesting mystery

Those who only see the commercials may wonder "Wait, why is Rapunzel's hair back?"

Well, my friend, that's only a small part of this large, intertwining Gravity Falls-style mystery. Yeah, you heard me. This mystery is comparable to "Gravity Falls."

Who is the secret society bent on finding the Golden Sunflower? Where are these scary black rocks coming from? What is Rapunzel's dad hiding?

Buddy, we're through the first season, and we got way more questions than answers!

6. The show is actually really funny.

What? A Disney Junior show with actual humor?

Yes! I know! There have been several times where I snicker, and as the jokes go along, turns into actual gut-splitting laughter. And let me tell you, TV shows, especially cartoons, have to work hard to make me laugh.

7. Varian

Yep, we're back to the 14-year-old alchemist who gives this show a dark, foreboding feel more reminding of "Gravity Falls" than "Sofia the First."

Without major spoilers, the best I can tell you is that while Varian at first starts as a happy kid who's just eager to meet Rapunzel and her friends, an incident sends him down a dark road to revenge, which spirals quickly into a dark insanity.

Let me tell you: there's actual risk of death by impalement in several scenes. There's even been several implications that not everyone is going to make it out alive.

Despite this, it's impossible to hate Varian. He's just a kid, after all. In the episode "Snow Day," we see his strained relationship with his father and the hole left in the family from his dead mother. And no, we don't know how she dies. But let's just say if you saw the final episode of season one, you might be with me in thinking rumors of her death have been greatly exaggerated...

While many may scoff when they see commercials for "Tangled: The Series" just know that I'm probably the harshest critic of everything I watch. And if I'm bouncing up and down in anticipation...

Well, chances are so will you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedias Common

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