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So the Ghost in the Shell live-action trailer has hit, and as with all trailers most of the internet has already decided how good the movie is. This one’s pretty split, but, as you’d expect, it’s the hardcore anime fans who’ve decided it sucks, and that’s who I’m writing to so let’s just say the movie sucks. Hooray!

Seriously, this is great! It thrills me that this movie will be is terrible! And I’m a fan of Ghost in the Shell. The original movie is probably my favourite film ever. The sequel is great. Stand Alone Complex and Second GIG are both top tier anime in their own right. I enjoyed the manga when it wasn’t boring me to sleep. I love Ghost in the Shell.

Or perhaps I should say, I have loved most everything Ghost in the Shell has been up to this point. See, while I love GitS‘s particular sci-fi world, most of it I’ve already adapted into my own work anyway, and there’s no reason to rely on only GitS to deliver on it. Hell, The Matrix already took GitS elements, and presumably some actually good movies could do the same. There’s no reason to rely on this franchise alone to deliver on its science-fiction ideas.

So what about the characters and story? Well, the franchise doesn’t actually deliver on those, at least not in a consistent fashion. The movies, though based on plot lines from Masamune Shirow’s original work, are non-canonical to the manga. The TV series is non-canonical to the movies. Arise is yet another canon. And each one has a different imagining of the characters. I mean, Major Kusanagi has been an erotic, lesbian, hacking goddess; an ex-military badass; and the closest human interpretation of a piece of wood.

So I just don’t see the point of new Ghost in the Shell material at this point. I do see a purpose for more great, intellectual, philosophical sci-fi, and if creators want to make it the same vein and name of GitS, I guess that’s fine. I mean Arise’s acceptable.

But I don’t want this franchise to continue and grow just for the sake of itself. Frankly, even Arise is unnecessary, treading much of the same thematic ground as previous iterations. If a new piece of work doesn’t have something to add, it’s just baggage for us completionsts. It’s just a commercial product, which for a long time is not something you could say about GitS. The original film was, and still is, high art and a masterpiece in filmmaking.

So I don’t think this live-action movie needs to exist. But why am I actively happy that it sucks, is bound to be recognized as closer to the MatrixRobocop crossover that it’s trying to be than as a real Ghost in the Shell film, and will be panned by hollywood and anime critics alike? Because it’s a nice little case study of anime’s legitimacy.

Usually, getting a big Hollywood movie is supposed to be a sign of legitimacy. A badge that says, “Hey, this thing is worth a big budget live-action film.” But Ghost in the Shell already has deep-rooted legitimacy. The original film is a masterpiece. This isn’t an anime critic opinion; this is pretty much universal opinion. In 1995 it was released to international praise. Hell, Roger Ebert wrote a review saying he enjoyed the visuals, soundtrack, and ideas.

So rather than this new bound-to-fail movie being a disappointing missed opportunity at legitimization, it will serve a very different purpose. A relative delegitimization of Hollywood. It’ll be a work that takes a Japanese anime masterpiece, turns it into a generic American action movie, and the overwhelming opinion from even the “serious” critics will be “The cartoon did it better.” I so fucking look forward to that.

Don’t Lose Your Way