“Will one Japanese guy shut you guys up?”
Well, if it’s Takeshi Kitano, that’s a good start.
Sure enough, the BROTHER/ZATOICHI star/writer/director is starring in GHOST IN THE SHELL, returning to the cyberpunk genre for the first(?) time since JOHNNY MNEMONIC 20+ years ago. He’ll be playing Daisuke Aramaki, the head of Section 9 where Scarlett Johansson’s pseudo-Motoko Kusanagi works.
Kitano, even in English-language productions like MNEMONIC and BROTHER, tends to speak only in Japanese (though he broke out some of the Queen’s in MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE), so I’m wondering if there isn’t some sort of trans-national thing going on in this incarnation of Section 9. That would sidestep at least some of the cultural discrepancies caused by transplanting the other characters to the American actors now playing them. Either way, I hope it’s a Japanese-only role, if only because I love the way his voice sounds when barking in his native tongue.
As a major Kitano fan (who is already wondering whether they’ll credit him as “Beat Takeshi,” “Takeshi Kitano,” or simply “Takeshi” like in MNEMONIC), it’s awesome to think that he’ll be featured prominently in a U.S. tentpole, presumably in a role larger than some kinda Stan Lee cameo. Even though he’s dipped his toe into American films, he’s mostly been content to knock out his own projects in Japan, and many U.S. filmgoers have had little to no exposure to his work (though BATTLE ROYALE remains a reliable reference point). Hopefully, his appearance here will be significant enough either in size or impact that Kitano noobs will be inclined to go check out his earlier masterpieces, like SONATINE or FIREWORKS or VIOLENT COP.
Rupert Sanders’ take on GITS was already getting the whitewashing accusations that fly so frequently these days (whether that’s justified or not), so getting such a prominent Japanese performer is a great way to assuage some of that concern. Would still love to hear what they’re calling ScarJo’s character in this though…
GHOST IN THE SHELL better not call Kitano’s character a “fucking Jap” on March 31st, 2017.