Observations from live action “Ghost in the Shell”:
Drew heavily from other science fiction films, video games and anime:
A.I Artificial Intelligence, Blade Runner, Appleseed, GATTACA, The Matrix, Cyborg 009, Batman – Nolan series, Independence Day (ID4), I-Robot, Mass Effect, Star Wars, The 5th Element, etc.
The film relied too heavily on previous media that the overall look and feel came across as the film being too insecure in its own identity, showing the general insecurity and fears that Hollywood has over anything that is not “white”, or is “untested” (Hollywood’s over-reliance on already books, comics, video games, franchises, reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels and already established actors, director and production crews in general).
I think that’s why they relied too heavily on other works visually.
I don’t think they’ve realized that what is actually killing the industry is not taking any real risks with original/new content and talent for as long as they have and it has caused things to stagnate. Also ignoring that audiences are “genre weary”, can’t commit to so many “tent pole” dependent franchises each summer and are wary of anything that’s been hyped.
It also “dumbed”, nearly everything down, leaving out important moments from the original anime film (such as the conversation between Motoko and Batou after diving). The symbolism of the lighting, shapes and outright stating the themes of the original film and manga, no attempts to be creative with it. Came across like they just wanted to get the core concepts out of the way, like tokens, and just wanted to cater to the action (which wasn’t engaging either). The whole film felt thrown together and lazy to the point that it was disrespectful.
Wished they’d branched out from the original 1995 movie more and included elements from the anime series, like the spider tanks used by Section 9. I think it would have helped expand on the concept of consciousness (and robots don’t have to be “robotic”). The spider tanks could have added the same element of cute/humor that BB-8 did for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
I also think the “Laughing Man” storyline would have been more relevant to today’s more immediate issues with cyber security and privacy, and would have been easier to connect to a larger audience without having to “dumb” anything down and still include GitS core subject matter.
Also it would have given an opportunity to include Kanno Yōko’s incredibly diverse work as a composer (as she did the theme for GitS: Stand Alone Complex and it’s sequel).
She was the first Asian composer I was introduced to shortly after I finished Eureka Seven and starting watching more anime through recommendations from the group I hung out with in high school at the college via Running Start. They had suggested “Cowboy Bebop” and “Ghost in the Shell”.
Overall they did a good job picking out anime and manga that were not reflective of the otaku stereotypes at that time and also had decent dubs until I was more comfortable with subs. They also gave me heads up on some of the more, interesting anime, such as “FLCL”, and took me to my first convention, Sakuracon, which was an overall Japanese culture convention, not just otaku culture.
I think they as self-identifying, stateside otaku were well aware of the general image that society and the media presented and wanted to debunk those negative stereotypes to a newcomer, (most of the time at least. They were high school and college aged students after all, so immaturity naturally played its part now and then).
But I think that it demonstrates that the issue with bringing Asian and Asian-American media stateside and into the mainstream isn’t that it won’t be liked or understood by Western audiences.
I think it’s that Hollywood refuses to rethink and acknowledge that they have presented Asian and Asian-American culture incorrectly on the big screen, continue to refuse to acknowledge their mistake and instead blame it on the source material and/or the audience. The same cycle of Western society refusing to take responsibility for their mistakes botching and butchering up other peoples and cultures, while profiting from it, before they try to outcast it from Western society.
Also interesting to note that there is a “Blade Runner” anime short called “Blade Runner Blackout 2022”, to explain the events leading into “Blade Runner 2049”, which is live action like the original “Blade Runner”.
I watched it and it’s short, using CG cellshade based anime styled animation. I need to watch it again for content, but I really enjoyed seeing something that was live action, be turned into animation.
Normally this happens to live action shows in the form of a comic book to continue or expand the story, not something animated and I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that was Western and live action that was turned into an anime previously.