A test-screening of the Japanese-dubbed Ghost in the Shell live-action movie was held on 4 April 2017 at Kaguraza, Kadokawa Fujimi Building, Tokyo. Prior to the screening, a fan meeting event with Atsuko Tanaka, the Japanese voice of Major (played by Scarlett Johansson in the movie), took place to commemorate its completion.
The movie, based on a manga of the same title created by Masamune Shirow, is a sci-fi action directed by Rupert Sanders. Its plot is set in the near future and revolves around Major, a cyborg, and a member of an anti-terrorist group. Despite her surviving an appalling cyber terrorist attack, her whole body, save for her brain, was augmented with cybernetics. She leads the anti-terrorist bureau Section 9 and fights against a mysterious cyber-terrorist who can hack into the human brain.
The manga was adapted into a theater anime movie directed by Mamoru Oshii in 1995. The anime became widely known in the US as its video disks and cassettes (we are talking about the 90s here) topped the weekly Billboard charts.
Major, known as Motoko Kusanagi in Japan, was originally voiced by Atsuko Tanaka, who returned to dub the same character in the live-action remake.
When Atsuko appeared on stage, she greeted the fans with ‘tadaima’, a greeting in Japan said by family members when they return home, telling her fans she has returned as Major.
‘Hollywood has done such a brilliant job with this story,’ said Atsuko, confessing her first impressions of the movie. She said she firmly felt Rupert’s love towards Ghost in the Shell and the director of the anime, Oshii, as well as his respect towards the anime adaptation. Fans of the anime would be delighted to find the cast members of the 1995 anime gathered to voice the movie’s dubbed version. Apart from Tanaka, Akio Ootsuka who voiced Batou, Koichi Yamadera as Togusa, and Yutaka Nakano as Ishikawa were back to play each character. ‘I feel very honored and appreciative that they let us dub this live-action movie,’ she said. The four original cast members spent a full day together in a recording studio. The studio recording had us picturing scenes from the anime in our mind, and we felt as if we were back to the studio where we first recorded 22 years ago.’
The cast members’ objective during dubbing was to please the fans. Therefore, although the sound effect director was different from the anime, they were actively involved in the role-making processes which subsequently influenced the scenario.
Tanaka assessed the Major, aka Motoko Kusanagi: ‘The most distanced and, in the meantime, the closest existence to me.’ She confessed, ‘The Major has a tough and strong personality, which is a stark contrast to mine. I always admired her and wanted to become like her. I think my admiration for her is reflected in my lines.’ Although there have been a number of auditions for Major’s voice acting role in the past, Tanaka always gets the role. ‘I feel as if Motoko has chosen me,’ she said. Her affection towards the character was evident.
‘The Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell has recreated the world of the story in an amazing way. I’m truly honored to have been the dubbing voice of the movie with the original cast members of Section 9 from the 1995 anime. The dubbed version of the movie, which we created with our full heart, would entertain both the anime fans and those new to the franchise. Please enjoy the live-action movie thoroughly and intensely until the very end.’
The live-action movie Ghost in the Shell will be released in Japan on 7 April 2017.