JAPAN: Is the ‘Western Viewpoint’ of Japanese Film, Kimi no Nawa, white-washing?

CONOR FAIRTLOUGH WRITES — You’ve probably never seen the Japanese animation “Kimi no Nawa” (Your Name), but if you are a film critic, chances are you haven’t stopped hearing about it.

The 2016 feature, directed by Makoto Shinkai, is not only currently the highest grossing anime and Japanese film, but the 11th highest grossing non-English film of all time. So what’s new? Director J.J. Abrams (known for Star Trek and Star Wars reboots), confirmed that he is working on a live-action remake of “Your Name.”

Poster for Kimi no Nawa

Abrams recently divulged that his adaptation will be live action and will take place in America.

This announcement follows criticism of,  and comparisons to, another adaptation of an acclaimed anime, “Ghost in the Shell (2017).”The film was panned by critics and fans for white-washing lead Major Motoko Kusanagi, who was played by Scarlett Johansson. Many people were angered by that film’s presentation and are wary that it might happen again.

Director J.J. Abrams


Toho, the production company that created “Your Name,” has displayed immense support for Abrams’ creative vision. Eric Heisserer, a writer for the upcoming remake said, “[Toho] stated if they wanted a Japanese live-action version, they would just do it themselves. But they want to see it through the lens of a Western viewpoint.”

Heisserer and Abrams have tried to speak out against the rising discontent by working directly with Toho. Despite the original creators’ attention to the American creative process,  some fans wonder what a “Western viewpoint” actually means, and are skeptical.

To quell concerns, Heisserer said,  “I can say that [my script] was not a Ghost in the Shelllike version.

For the sake of that film ’s fans, let ’s hope he’s right.

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