I For One Welcome Our Live Action Anime Overlords
The upcoming Ghost In The Shell live action movie is just the beginning.
Header image via Badcoyotefunky.
Scarlett Johansson is about to usher in an era of live action anime adaptations with Ghost In The Shell and it’s going to change the future of cinema. As someone who recently smashed 366 episodes of a particular anime in five weeks I feel versed enough to discuss what is about to happen and why I’m shaking.
There is such a rich history of anime filled with compelling, tragic and unimaginable worlds. The beauty of it all is that each page and image captures the vast and often twisted imagination of the writer and the imagery doing circles in their head. No flawed acting or expressions, only impossible camera angles with scenarios that were equally impossible to produce in live action format. There is no finer joy in anime-watching life than watching a Cowboy Bebop space battle set to the sounds of jazz contrasting with lasers shooting across the screen.
For these series and movies budget wasn’t a limiting factor in how the story was presented, which allowed anime to remain a considered art form at every level. But this is about to shift. CGI capabilities coupled with monster budgets can now turn even the most abstract of thoughts into a visual reality.
And I'm open to it. There are plenty who fall in the, 'just leave it the way it is' pile, and to them I say: Well, that war has been raging for years between the manga (comic) and anime (cartoon) fans and every site that hosts an opinion will feature dub vs sub arguments. Instead of participating in that conversation, I’m going to compliment sandwich this discussion and hopefully inspire everyone reading to watch both.
Reading the manga and watching the anime version are both enjoyable experiences. Each person’s different input and impact on the story changes something. Seeing versions of characters loved and stories already told in a new way, even if it may miss the mark, is still an enjoyable experience if only for that reason alone. It could also win over some new viewers for the original versions; I would be stoked to have a few more friends to chat about anime with. Plus, the original is always there, it ain’t going anywhere, rinsing the dirt is a simple re-run away.
Big budget, of course, does not mean great quality. Dialogue dryer than your mouth the morning of your worst hangover, plot holes that send even the most stable of cruisers off the track, directors with too much ambition for change, or not enough, or didn’t even understand it to begin with... Look at the most recent run of DC movies - how can a big studio give a sign off on a movie like Suicide Squad? All of these problems are exaggerated by the difficulty of dealing with manga-based content. It asks difficult questions for the viewers to consider in themselves yet would often require super studio style budgets to produce the visuals these themes are often highlighted with.
If they nail the visuals and tone, we are set for some of the best cinema experiences yet to pass. So many films that you love have drawn inspiration from the world of anime, even the one just to be released. The Wachowski siblings paid homage to Ghost In The Shell with many of its scenes and ideas borrowed for The Matrix... Inception borrows concepts and some visual inspirations from the anime Paprika, even Avatar could be connected to Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, and this is just scratching the surface. They are each a good starting point if you want to level up and prepare ahead of Ghost In The Shell in March.
So what’s next on the horizon? Christopher Nolan is apparently tackling Akira, and there is another Death Note on the way. Now that our computers have caught up, there is a category infinitely bigger than the Marvel and DC and universes to explore. One that boasts an untapped variety of content for Hollywood to mine.
The intention of writing this article was to hopefully convince people who have never given anime a shot to do just that - the music, pace, story and themes in most animes are completely worth the time. Start with Ghost In The Shell and then check out the live action theatre release, everyone wins in that scenario. For those already onboard I’m hoping it will encourage you to go into the cinema with an open and excited mind - that’s how I'll be approaching the March arrival of Ghost In The Shell - and I hope just as much as any of you that I don't get burned.
Because you made it to the bottom of the article, here's some trailers to hopefully spurn your excitement/imagination:
BECAUSE YOU MADE IT PAST THOSE TRAILERS HERE IS SOME COWBOY BEPOP GOODNESS: