2017 saw the cinematic release of “Ghost in the Shell,” a movie that was centered around a very popular anime one that spawned multiple animated movies itself and an animated series beforehand.
Growing up, I watched one of the anime adaptations, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.”
As a teenager, I enjoyed the series, it was never my favorite show, but I took enjoyed watching it well enough.
When I heard of the 2017 cinematic movie, I was more intrigued than excited. After watching the trailer and reading the synopsis, I dismissed it entirely.
I wasn’t interested in the transformation of a strong female lead into the pale Hollywood version the movie had.
In the anime, I enjoyed the female lead, Major. She was often a cold character and the fact she was literally downloaded into a completely artificial body made many around question if she was literally a ghost in the shell. Hence the name. Major herself was never a vulnerable character, and if she did question her own humanity, it was very much left to the viewer to guess if she ever had an issue with it.
The movie did not go this route. The marketing for the cinematic release showed a character that was on a journey to discover how she was created (in the show I watched, she always knew how she was created and who she was), and the movie looked like your traditional “who am I” storyline that has been overdone to death.
Because of this, I never bothered to watch the cinematic release, and I highly doubt I ever will.
Still, I never pondered whether the movie would be a success. I simply shrugged and moved on with my day. Then I heard about Netflix’s adaptation of the anime, “Death Note,” and it piqued my interest — this adaptation I did watch. The Netflix series wasn’t great by any means, but if I ignored any connection to the source material I found, I could enjoy it. Just like “Ghost in the Shell,” I moved on after watching it and never thought twice about it again.
But maybe I should have.
The world of anime and the fandom that watches it has always been viewed in a very narrow way in my experience. Much like comic lovers, those who watch it are often assumed to be somewhat social outcasts. My favorite example, or rather the example that I loathe the most, would be the portrayal of the character, Sheldon, from the popular show, “The Big Bang Theory.”
Sheldon is, for all intents and purposes, supposed to be “weird,” and his character is imprinted on many people's minds of what to expect from someone who watches anime or reads comics.
Sheldon is awkward, often obnoxious and doesn’t seem to understand how to actually exist in society. His portrayal had always been how I felt many viewed those who liked anime, comics or any other fandoms that were less than mainstream.
And I believe it was at least for some time before that changed.
Often as a teenager and an adult, the most common response I received from someone, including one of my closest friends, to finding I enjoyed anime was shock and a whole lot of confusion mixed with strange looks.
But I’m starting to think this response may not be the common one anymore.
In recent years, there has been an increase in anime’s popularity and I find myself continuing to enjoy a culture that may no longer be considered a niche market. Animes such as “Death Note” and “Attack on Titan” have grown a large fan base, creating a stronger acceptance of anime.
Serious cinematic adaptations such as “Ghost in the Shell” and it’s Netflix equivalent, “Death Note,” may not be true to their source materials, but they open up a larger audience to that source material.
Back when the cinematic adaptation of the anime, “Dragon Ball,” titled “Dragonball Evolution” came to the big screen in 2009, I doubt any anime lover would have thought that future anime adaptations would star actors, such as Scarlett Johansson and Willem Dafoe.
I’m not sure where this trend began. I highly suspect it began with the popularity of comic book movies, but how that translated into the acceptance of anime I am unsure.
All I know is the idea of my favorite animes such as “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood” and “Baccano” making it to the cinematic big screen or into a mini series doesn’t seem so far away. And when they do come to the big screen, I don’t think other anime fans will be the only one’s excited to see them either.
Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1. The views presented in this column are her own.