J.J. Abrams targeted over fear that Japanese hit Your Name will be whitewashed

Ben Arnold
·Contributor

News that J.J. Abrams is to oversee a remake the Japanese anime hit ‘Your Name’ has been followed by uproar that the movie will now be ‘white-washed’ once it hits Hollywood.

The manga, which Abrams’ Bad Robot company will turn into a live-action adaptation, is based on a novel of the same name in which a teenage girl from rural Japan and a high school boy in Tokyo begin magically switching bodies.

So far, it’s made more at the box office than any other animated movie in Japanese film history – hauling in over $355 million worldwide.

And as such, it’s caught the eye of Hollywood, with Abrams now in place to remake it with the Paramount studio and Toho, the film’s Japanese distributor.

However, the main question being asked by fans of the original appears to be ‘but why?’

Many have taken to Japan Today’s website and Facebook page, one joking ‘I’m excited for Scarlett Johansson’s next big film’, a reference to ‘Ghost In The Shell’, which was remade this year in Hollywood and lambasted for making its hero a white western woman.

Another said: “I get mad every time I read news like this. Stop remaking someone else’s art and appreciate the original.”

Added another: “It’s essentially the same thing as when the dumb kid in class copies another student’s homework.”

Said another, rather more pointedly: “I will definitely NOT be watching any white washed crap that comes out of Hollywood. Tired of watching uninspiring remakes.”

Twitter, of course, had something to say about it too…

Hollywood appropriating subject matter from Asia and the Far East is a contentious subject at present, making the decision to remake ‘Your Name’ at all something of a puzzling one.

The reaction to it surely cannot have come as a surprise, particularly following the ‘Ghost In The Shell’ debacle, during which it was heavily criticised, mauled by critics and then bombed at the box office – it too was based on a popular manga series.

But for his part, the anime’s original director Makoto Shinkai seems quite up for it.

“When such a work is imbued with Hollywood filmmaking, we may see new possibilities that we had been completely unaware of,” he said.

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