Oh boy does Ghost in the Shell look like it’s going to be the latest in comic book adaptations that misses the point at every level. Aside from the obvious issues with white washing the protagonist and relocating from a fictional city to a real one (seriously, just make a new story) we now have, well their approach to whether or not to sexualize the protagonist.
The original 1995 anime movie adaptation made a few changes to the protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, she was shifted from being a young woman who performed frequent fan service and was very emotionally expressive to a sterner woman who might be in her forties with on brief periods of non-sexual nudity. Unsurprisingly, given the tone and weight of the subject matter, it went over really well with audiences.
Based off the recent collection of images, the makers of the latest adaptation are trying to have their cake and eat it too.
Which is ridiculous given that the original movie was massively successful in its own right, massively influential on media in Japan and the rest of the world without trying to rely on white “star power” or pandering.
An article relevant to the rhetoric we’re often met with in response to our posts – that we’re against anything remotely sexy, or that we’re conflating sexyness with sexualization (even if the author is weirdly fixated on alleged inherent problems with anime culture).
Sexiness without objectification is not some hypothetical or abstract concept […] “Sex sells!” commenters squawk every time this comes up, as if this voyeuristic collage of disembodied lady parts is the only way to make non-erotic programming commercially viable.
Back to clearing up the confusion, important thing to remember is that here at BABD we usually use word “sexy” (as well as “empowered”) in a tongue-in-cheek manner, unless stated otherwise. For example – in the Overwatch slot machine“sexy” is a shorthand for “objectified and attractive according to conventional Western beauty standards” and replacing it with “beefy” and “curvy” for Zarya and Mei does not mean the two aren’t sexy characters. It means that (slightly) different body type/beauty standard than generic hotness was a priority in their design.
We’ll always firmly stand by the assessment that sexyness is perfectly fine thing to portray in media – the key is to remember there’s time and place for anything, even fanservice – and (in our blog’s case) portrayal of female warriors ain’t that time.
It’s worth bringing up that while the vast majority of content we cover is direct comparisons of depictions of cis women to cis men, and the main reason for this is frankly it’s very rare for popular media to create engaging characters that aren’t cis and/or don’t conform to the gender binary.
The complexities of gender along with the complexities of trying to incorporate signifiers in your designs are perhaps yet another great reason to instead focus on other aspects in armor/costume design. Concepts like:
Practicalities and priorities in combat/adventuring
Personality traits and personal histories of characters
Unique or special traits of the world in which the character exists
Basically all the stuff that often gets considered with cis male characters design processes in most media. Then we can have all kinds of characters created with the same sort of depth and respect.
During the interview Harada claims that Tekken contains a character (Ganryu) who is a sumo – and that people might think that he was just an inappropriately dressed man if they didn’t understand Japanese culture.
To understand how hilarious this is, we first need to recognize a few facts:
The mawashi is an item of sport attire that has remained in use for literally centuries
Sumo is an exceptionally widely known sport, as is that it originates from Japan
With all that we’ve just considered, let’s briefly remember that the most immediate Tekken scandal was a swimsuit pack, that Harada seems to be unsure about himself and can’t seem to link to Japanese culture in any way, shape or form.
Since Harada wouldn’t elaborate more on how it’s cultural other than to rant about “SJWs”, let’s look at a previous Tekken 7 scandal (from 2014) and that involved a distinctly Japanese character that was poorly received by many people assumed to be “uninformed critics”:
It’s important to remember: Lucky Chloe did make it into the release of Tekken 7, but despite the name drop in the interview Ganryu didn’t! At least not to date, the game still hasn’t had it’s really-final-for-sure release, but Harada’s latest comment on his beloved sumo character?
It’s almost what he’s really upset about is that he’s not receiving unconditional praise for making something (that’s supposed to be a widely distributed commercial piece of media) just for himself at the expense of others…