Tuesday, April 19, 2016

[Music and Opinion] Ghost in the Shell – Some Theme Songs

Posters for Ghost in the Shell

Scarlett Johansson vs. Motoko Kusanagi


1. A headline in today's BBC News app grasps my attention (BBC News 2016):

"Scarlett Johansson's casting sparks 'whitewashing debate' "

"Scarlett Johansson's latest role has caused a stir because she plays an Asian character."

"Johansson has been cast in the Hollywood remake of the Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell. It's led to a row about 'whitewashing'. "

2. ("Ghost in the Shell", Wikipedia):

"Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊 Kōkaku Kidōtai?, literally "Mobile Armored Riot Police") is a Japanese media franchise originally published as a seinen manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. The manga, first serialized in 1989 under the subtitle of The Ghost in the Shell, and later published as its own tankōbon volumes by Kodansha, told the story of the fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9, led by protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, in the mid 21st century of Japan."

3. I have been a fan of the Ghost in the Shell anime franchise for a long time.

I watched Season 1 of the TV Series when it was first broadcasted on Canada's YTV channel in 2005.

I must have watched Season 1 of the anime, called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, at least 5 times; also more than once of Season 2, the 4 anime movies, and the third TV series Ghost in the Shell: Arise.

In terms of the storyline, Ghost in the Shell: Arise is the prequel for the series.

There are some original video animations that have not been subbed or dubbed into English and I have not watch them.

4. A listing of the Ghost in the Shell anime TV series and anime films ("Ghost in the Shell", Wikipedia):

(a) Anime TV:

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002 - 2003) (26 episodes)

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG (2004 - 2005) (26 episodes)

Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2015) (10 episodes)

(b) Anime Films:

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (2006)

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)

5. Ghost in the Shell (2017 film) starring Scarlett Johansson will be the first non-anime film in the franchise and irony of ironies, it will be a Hollywood production.

There is a controversy about the casting because Scarlett Johansson, a white person, is casted as Major Motoko Kusanagi, a very Japanese character and this leads to the controversy of "whitewashing".

What is also surprising is that the controversy is mainly a western affairs while the Japanese fans themselves seems more or less ok with it (Blair 2016).

Kwame Opam has a thoughtful discussion of the issues in (Opam 2016).

6. I find all the anime of the franchise to be very thoughtful.

Many themes are explored in the anime and they are wide ranging and some are in depth.

I will just mention one minor theme -- the Japanese animators' impression of the Chinese people.

(Since the anime franchise is spread over many years with many different animators, by "Japanese animators" I mean only a generalized group of Japanese people.)

(a) The Japanese animators’ impression of Hong Kong is one of exotic curiosities.

In the anime movie Ghost in the Shell (1995), there are two sequences that recognizably use Hong Kong as their backdrop: one is of Yau Me Tei District on the Kowloon peninsula and the other is of Causeway Bay District on Hong Kong Island.

The Causeway Bay sequence is obviously viewing Hong Kong while riding the tram line.

(b) The Japanese animators have a low opinion of the quality of mainland Chinese.

Season 1, Episode 14 of the TV Series is called "SA: Automated Capitalism – ¥€$" (Zenjidō Shihonshugi ¥€$" (全自動資本主義 ¥€$)).

("List of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episodes", Wikipedia):

"Acting on a tip, Section 9 breaks up a cabal of thieves planning to rob a Japanese financial institution. Shortly after the raid, a Chinese intelligence official contacts Section 9 and informs them of suspicious activity that he believes may indicate an assassination attempt by Chinese Socialists on Kanemoto Yokose, a prominent, yet reclusive, Japanese billionaire."

The Chinese intelligence official talked with the head of Public Security Section 9, Aramaki, through video conferencing.

In the video conference, instead of the actual person, an avatar of the person speaking was displayed to the other side.

But the Japanese animators showed that the Chinese intelligence official was actually clipping his toenails while talking with section Chief Aramaki.

Not complimentary at all.

(c) The Japanese animators' impression of Taiwan is one of familiarity.

The backdrop for Season 2, Episode 17 of the TV Series, called "DI: Mother and Child – RED DATA" (Shūkō Boshi RED DATA" (修好母子 RED DATA)), is Taiwan.

Although the animators tried to depict some local distinctives of Taiwan, but the Taiwan in this episode seems like just another Japanese city.

Maybe this is due to Taiwan being a former Japanese colony?

7. The opening theme song of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is "Inner Universe":






8. The closing theme song of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is "Lithium Flower":




9. The opening theme song of Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG is "Rise":






10. The closing theme song of Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG is "Living Inside the Shell":




11. "I Do" -- A tribute to and lament for the love between Motoko Kusanagi and Hideo Kuze that was not meant to be:







12. Added: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When introducing the songs of Ghost in the Shell, how can I forget the hauntingly beautiful introductory song for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004):







Ashcraft, Brian. 2016. "The Japanese Internet Reacts to Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell". Kotaku, April 18.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

BBC News. 2016. "Is Scarlett Johansson casting Hollywood 'whitewashing'?". BBC News, April 19.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Blair, Gavin J. 2016. "Scarlett Johansson in 'Ghost in the Shell': Japanese Industry, Fans Surprised by 'Whitewashing' Outrage". The Hollywood Reporter, April 19.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Chan, Melissa. 2016. "Photo of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell Reignites ‘Whitewashing’ Controversy". TIME, April 18.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Child, Ben. 2016a. "‘Whitewashing’ row over Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell role reignites". The Guardian, April 15.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Child, Ben. 2016b. "Why Max Landis is wrong about Scarlett Johansson's 'whitewashed' Ghost in the Shell remake". The Guardian, April 18.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Han, Angie. 2016. "Why Hollywood’s Whitewashing of ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Is So Frustrating." Film - Blogging the Reel World, April 18.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Opam, Kwame. 2016. "Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell casting is even worse than it seems". The Verge, April 18.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Romano, Nick. 2016. "Max Landis on Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell casting". Entertainment, April 16.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

Sampson, Mike. 2016. "Exclusive: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Producers Reportedly Tested Visual Effects That Would Make White Actors Appear Asian". Screen Crush, April 15.
(accessed 2014-04-19).

"Ghost in the Shell", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2014-04-19).

"List of Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG episodes", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2014-04-19).

"List of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episodes", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2014-04-19).

"Music of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
(accessed 2014-04-19).