If it's crap ... We'll tell you
In Defense of Ghost in the Shell: Arise
The announcement of Ghost in the Shell: Arise might've slipped under the radar of most mainstream media outlets, but it sure hasn't escaped the attention of the Ghost in the Shell franchise's steadfast fanbase, splitting it into two groups: those who view Ghost in the Shell: Arise as a welcomed fresh addition to the hitherto immaculate sci-fi franchise and those who've already renounced it as an unimaginative cash-grab purely because the series is said to be a prequel to both the original Mamoru Oshii film and the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series, or at least take place in an earlier time frame than any previous incarnation of the story.
Now, allow me to preface what I'm about to say in this article by asserting that, like many of you, I have my own reservations when it comes to prequels. More often than not a prequel to pretty much any story turns out to be nothing more than a hackneyed rehash of the same events that transpired in the original, with only minor deviations such as the time frame, the setting or a new cast of characters who aren't nearly as likable as their successors. Having said that, however, in the case of Ghost in the Shell: Arise I'm more than willing to repudiate my usual prejudices and even play devil's advocate because here's the thing: there is literally no reason to hit the panic button yet.
First of all, there is still a good half-year before Ghost in the Shell: Arise is released in theaters in Japan, so until then anything anyone says in relation to Ghost in the Shell: Arise is based purely on their preexisting biases or expectations, and thus can't be perceived as a valid estimation of its actual contents or quality. Second, a nearly ubiquitous complaint among the opponents of the new series seems to be the fact that Ghost in the Shell: Arise intends to bring Motoko Kusanagi's mysterious past to the forefront, thus dispelling the character's main allure. Now, I will concur that the Major has always been an enigmatic figure, regardless of which incarnation you prefer best. But is it really her indistinct past that makes her such a fascinating character? Maybe to some, yes. But personally I was always more interested in the Major's inner world than anything else. Just what goes through this woman's mind as she intrepidly leaps into action putting her and her teammates' lives at risk for her country? Is she content with being an inexorable killing machine at the mercy of unseen powers much bigger than her should they deem her a threat to their shady manipulations or does she secretly yearn for a different, less hazardous life? It's not so much about what happens to the Major, you see, but rather about how she feels about the transpiring events, how she reacts to them, what decisions she makes. I mean, not to say that Motoko Kusanagi isn't a total badass and one of the few examples of strong female characters in Japanese animation, but come on now, people. There's more to the character than just that!
And this is where I believe Ghost in the Shell: Arise has a chance to excel. A young, inexperienced and possibly even rebellious Motoko Kusanagi coming to terms with her new life as a cyborg, tasked to assemble and lead Section 9 to combat a whole new type of criminals? I don't know about you, but I see lots of potential in such a premise.