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Tuesday, October 04, 2016 

Even live action manga adaptations suffer from political correctness

Following on the heels of many recent cases of US superhero comics changing the racial background and gender of various protagonists, the Japan Times reveals that even manga and anime adapted into live action suffer a similar problem. Case in point here is a planned adaptation of Ghost in the Shell:
Earlier this year, a major Hollywood studio announced that it was planning to produce a live-action remake of the Japanese manga and anime “Ghost in the Shell.” The backlash from cultural critics in the United States and Europe was swift. They deemed that casting Scarlett Johansson in the role of cyborg policewoman Major Motoko Kusanagi was a form of “whitewashing” — where white actors are cast in non-white roles to appease Western audiences. What’s more, her character’s original Japanese name has been removed from the script; she will only be referred to only as “the Major.”
Now this is an interesting argument, based on the fact that the original material did star an Asian protagonist, and if it isn't right to change the racial background or gender of a Hulk or a Thor for the sake of "diversity", then surely it's not right to do it with foreign material either at all costs, and I'm certain the US filmmakers could find plenty of Asian performers to fill the main parts at ease. I faintly remember seeing the 1995 anime film several years ago, and while it was an English-dubbed edition, they did keep the Japanese name intact.

But there's one little problem bugging me here: who are the cultural critics backlashing against the casting of Johansson in an Americanized adaptation? Are they folks who recognize why diversity-pandering at the expense of the established white protagonists is ludicrous and insulting...or, are they Social Justice Warriors who won't defend famous American creations as they allegedly will foreign ones? If it's the latter, I don't see what business they have complaining here, unless it's just to cause trouble of the "damned if you do and don't" variety.

Protesting contrived diversity is fine so long as it's a two way street, and if SJWs are the ones criticizing the casting (something this article doesn't even explore), then their argument doesn't even exist and wasn't even launched altruistically. Besides, as the following informs us:
From a Japanese perspective, then, what happens when a Caucasian female is cast as Japanese character?

“Nothing,” according to Suzuki. “Japan, in general, thinks it’s cool that Hollywood is making a movie out of a popular anime.”
So clearly, the Japanese crowd isn't bothered, and I won't be either, so long as it doesn't lead to forced changes in the anime and manga series themselves. Indeed, now that I think of it, so long as this isn't the manga we're talking about, it should be okay enough, but, were the manga corporate owned and the publishers decided out of the blue to take the same path Marvel and DC have with their superhero lines, then I'd frown. The approach used by the Big Two is a very poor storytelling and business model, and Japanese manga publishers, both independent and corporate, would be smart to avoid following their current example.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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