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Despite the white-washing controversy, criticism about changes in the storyline and a slew of other complaints, the Ghost in the Shell trailer has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from Japanese fans of the original manga and anime.
The Japanese-subtitled version of the trailer, released at an event party on Sunday in Tokyo, has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times on YouTube, with the “likes” outnumbering the “dislikes” by about ten to one.
While some people have complained about the casting of a white actress in the main role, the majority of comments about star Scarlett Johansson are positive, as are comments about the look of the film. Japanese fans were largely unbothered about Johansson playing the lead role, having expected a white actress to star in the Hollywood film. There were more sarcastic comments about the casting of Takeshi Kitano, whom many said always reminded them of a yakuza gangster because he had played so many in his career.
“Wow! I wasn’t expecting anything from this live-action version, but I’ll watch this, I really want to see it. Paramount and Dream Works, this is more than enough to convince me! And Scarlett has just the right feel for it! I take back what I said about this turning out to be a piece of crap,” wrote Afro na Samurai.
Many commenters were full of praise for the striking visuals in the trailer, pointing out that the production values are much higher than they likely would have been for a Japanese film, which are generally made on much lower budgets.
“This looks 100 times better than a Japanese live-action movie would have been…though I’m not saying it’s a good idea to have done a live-action version,” commented Takahiro Watanabe
“What a difference it makes if you have money. This is a completely different level to Japanese live-action films,” wrote uramasago@K4.
According to many commenters, expectations were low for the film, but what they have seen so far of Rupert Sanders’ reimagining of the story appears to have exceeded them.
“Well, we won’t know until we can see the whole thing, but looks like we can have higher hopes for this than Dragon Ball,” wrote tutona8, referring to the ill-fated 2009 Dragonball Evolution, an example of a failed Hollywood manga adaptation.
Mamoru Oshii, director of the seminal 1995 anime version of the story, has come out in support of the new film, but the author of the original manga Masamune Shirow has yet to comment, which some are suggesting may be a warning sign for the film. But Shirow, 54, is known to be reclusive and rarely talks to the media, spending most of his time these days drawing erotic manga.
“It has been a very long project, discussions began nine years ago. I believe Shirow gave his opinion in the early stages of the process,” said Sam Yoshiba, head of the international business division at Kodansha, the publisher of the original manga and rights’ holder, at the time the remake was finalized.
“He hasn’t made any comment recently, but he’s not someone who speaks in public these days,” Yoshiba told The Hollywood Reporter.
Two Japanese long-time fans of the franchise said they were impressed by the trailer, had no issue with Johansson’s casting and will see the film when it is released in Japan in April.
“It looks incredible. They’ve recreated some of the scenes directly from the anime and really captured it,” Koki Kikuchi, 23, told The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought it might end up looking like the kind of crappy version of Tokyo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but I’m looking forward to seeing this.”
“Scarlett Johansson is really good casting, and anyway, I can’t think of any Japanese actress who can do action well,” said Teppe Machida, 33. “The trailer looks really cool, I’m definitely going to watch it.”
The U.S. release is set for March 31.
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