April 15, 2008

Just 15 months after Kodansha and Production I.G. kissed and made up over optioning Ghost in the Shell, they've found a taker: DreamWorks, who released Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence in North American cinemas under their GoFish banner in 2005, has acquired the rights to make a live-action, 3D version of the property.

While I think Ghost in the Shell is a great selection for a 3D film, I can't say I'm particularly enthusiastic about the news. I'm generally not a fan of live-action remakes of animated shows or comics; overall, there have been more misses than hits. More to the point, the recent spate of rights acquisitions for anime (or anime-like)-to-Hollywood live-action adaptations (Robotech, Akira, Avatar: The Last Airbender—have I missed anything?) reminds me of the old maxim that in Hollywood no one wants to be first, but everyone wants to be second. Speed Racer is due to hit cinemas in just a few weeks, and I've long had the sense that these acquisitions are a means of lining things up to ride an anticipated wave of anime-inspired movies, in the same way Spider-Man and X-Men helped launch a wave of comic-inspired movies.

One thing I won't do, however, is claim that Spielberg (or any of the other directors/producers working on adapted anime works) will somehow "ruin" the original. Gimme a break—that's like saying a bad date will ruin your memory of your first kiss.

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Hmm... manga turned anime turned live action.

I don't think it's a bad choice per say, but I have this feeling it will suffer the same fate as Peter Chung's Aeon Flux...
I used to have a list of "live-action anime" that were in production... I wish I knew what I did with it. In any case, Astroy Boy, Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm), Gatchaman, The Witchblade (if you really want to count it, you can) and some others were on that list. (There are other titles that have been or are going to be made into live-action films in Japan... but those are too many to note.)

As for my opinion on this GHOST project; it sounds interesting, but I'm just not really all that interested. I don't have anything against Spielberg for wanting to engrave in everyone's skull that he's the king of sci-fi film production; and as much as I sort of resent Katzenberg for talking about motion-capture like it's the Second Coming, my disinterest simply stems from my greater interest in seeing the dangerously majestic Major Makoto Kusanagi in animation and nothing else. (What would the Major look like in mo-cap?)

Masamune's original manga was spectacular, no doubt. But it was in the animated media that she really transcended her role as a confident soldier and into something much more meaningful.

I'm not saying that it shouldn't be made into a live-action film simply because "it's animated" -- I'm only saying that if I had a choice between seeing Kusanagi live and seeing her animated, I'd definitely prefer animated.
I don't know... as a GitS fan I welcome new material, but the thought of a live action movie makes me wince in advance.

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