As a fan of the original Japanese animation film of the same name, I am pretty stoked to see that Hollywood is making a live-action version of The Ghost in the Shell (despite the obvious whitewashing of its characters).

While the movie appeals to me on a personal level, now I have a good “professional” excuse to see the film when it screens, thanks to Honda. This is because Scarlett Johansson’s character, “The Major” (again, more whitewashing), will be riding a modified Honda NM4 motorcycle around New Port City.

Yes, Honda’s strange creation – which itself is sometimes referred to as “the Akira bike” or “Batcycle” – seems perfect for a life on the big screen. It might be the first product placement for a motorcycle that actually makes sense to us.

Source: Honda

  • Superlight

    That Honda is perfect for the film, but one of the ugliest motorcycles ever. So you actually like these Transformers designs, Jensen? I guess I’m getting too old, either that or I still have good taste in design.

  • Christopher Horrell

    Also a HUGE fan, but even more so of the SAC universe. I also plan on seeing the movie and as much as I do like to watch Scarlett Johansson, I too would prefer to see an equally qualified actress of Japanese decent play Motoko.

  • Elton Alwine

    This thing is damn cool. Looking forward to watching this film

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    I think that sometimes ‘fun’ or ‘interesting’ trumps ‘good design’. I dig the NM4 although I’d never buy one myself.

  • Superlight

    Nor, I suspect, will many others…


    I REALLY hope this movie doesn’t suck.

  • Dustin Nisbet-Jones

    I’ve seen one in the wild! Just one, mind you.

  • MrDefo

    I owned one, and had fun cruising around until the fiancée dropped it. That in and of itself was a problem with the bike – it’s awesome looks made for expensive repairs. All it took to total the bike was one of the saddle bags being knocked off. Otherwise I mean, it was a wild looking scooter, the fulfillment of Suzuki’s G-Strider concept. I liked it, but it had its downsides.

  • MrDefo

    Of all the examples of whitewashing, this one actually makes sense. The anime characters look caucasian.

  • Jack Meoph

    I don’t have a problem with ScarJo as “the Major”, because she always looked Caucasian to me in the anime. Now if they have some white guy play Sato when they do a live action ver. of Ajin, then I’ll cry foul, or maybe just cry. Motorcycle in film is always good, and the NM4 is pretty cool for a scooter.

  • Word.

  • You know, they’re actually a pretty nice bike to ride. I feel dirty saying that, but it’s true.

  • Quentin and I had a big convo about it today. I get why you pick ScarJo, and I actually think she looks pretty similar to the character in the anime. It kinda gets a pass from me, though I can understand why others would be ruffled.

    Matt Damon in The Great Wall though…GTFO.

  • Christopher Horrell

    There are a lot of anime characters that look caucasian but are written Japanese. Granted this particular character is cybernetic body and ScarJo is likely one of the few females on earth that can even come close to looking like she does in the anime.

  • Christopher Horrell

    For me as well. There are not to many female actors who can even come close to looking like Motoko’s cyber body. And who knows, the creator of the character maybe meant for her to have both Japanese and caucasian features.

    Matt Damon in The Great Wall is one of those WTF moments when I saw the trailer.

  • MTCZ

    You understand Design but not that taste cannot be argued?

  • Ulysses Araujo

    That’s a “sugomi” done right. I actually like the original design but I have no love for the feet forward position, this one or the original NC 700X ergos would be much better. Dawn this bike is nice!

  • Superlight

    Of course design is subjective, but IMO the Japanese have gone overboard on the Transformer look, which is exemplified by this Vultus. Hey, if you like it, buy it. Interestingly, I pay a lot of attention to motorcycles and have never seen one of these on the road.

  • MrDefo

    Like many things I think it requires a bit of thought and nuance to the question. I have no problem with Heimdall being black in the Thor movies, possibly because he isn’t the main character? But say, having Tom Cruise as “The LAST Samurai” seems silly and kind of offensive.

    Looking outside of the films, yes there’s a cultural and political element, but just on face value I think it depends on the role and the film.

  • Eric

    As a designer myself, albeit in a different discipline, I’d argue that for it to be a good Design, it would need to be able to avoid being totaled in a tipover. Otherwise, it’s just a Styling exercise. An essential distinction that is often overlooked. The key difference is that design isn’t purely subjective; it must also address functional concerns. The better it “functions beautifully,” the better the design.

  • Westward

    Its very disingenuous to argue white-washing in anime based features, when 97% of the main characters, all look like western Europeans, with Japanese and Chinese names.

    Besides, the Ghost in the Shell protagonist is called “The Major”, not translated, actually called The Major…

    As for Matt Damon in the The Great Wall, if you have not seen it, then that’s not fair either, His character is specially western European as were two other main characters as, as they were in search of black powder to bring back to Europe. As in before guns period in time. Think more Marco Polo..

  • Westward

    Samurai is the singular as well as the plural word for the military nobility of medieval Japan. Similar to words like; Fish or Ninja, there are no fishes or ninjas, nor samurais.

    A Samurai
    A couple of Samurai
    A few Samurai
    Many Samurai
    Hundreds of Samurai
    etc. etc. etc.

    As for the movie, The Last Samurai, was about the last community of Samurai. Which the Tom Cruise character was indoctrinated into.

  • Westward

    “Like many things I think it requires a bit of thought and nuance to the question.”

  • MrDefo

    I saw the movie.

  • MrDefo

    And I get what you’re saying. He was at least respectful of their traditions.

  • I’d be more lenient in that case, except Marco Polo was about 300 years later in the timeline… :-/

  • Andre Capitao Melo

    Her name is Motoko Kusanagi.

  • Andre Capitao Melo

    Yes, only your taste is the right one…

  • Superlight

    I thought I just said design is subjective. My opinions are mine alone.

  • paulus

    The concept version… yummy. The NM4, it’s not so nice.

  • PHP Moz

    NM4, really does need to try to stop looking like a cruiser. Cruiser riders will never accept the design, ever. The concept bike as a futuristic “sport” model is pretty amazing.

  • paulus

    Keanu in 47 Ronin… WTF
    Even though he is a biker… I can’t forgive this one.

  • paulus

    Not many female Caucasian actors… Asia is stuffed full of women who have this exact body type.
    praise Jebus!

  • Phil Klostermen

    Oh the Whitewashing. 🛠⛏🔧

  • TacoTheTerrible

    Jensen: I love the site (it’s my home page, after all) I have to take issue with you on the idea that the character is whitewashed.

    The Manga’s creator is on board with Johansson’s role in the movie and the bottom line is that the character is a cyborg, with nothing left of her own body but a brain and spinal cord. Everything else is manufactured. If the character in the manga has no ethnicity or nationality (or even SKIN), can it truly be called whitewashing just because a white actress is in the role? Just because the original story came from Japan does not mean that the characters in it need to be Japanese. That, in and of itself is another form of racism, though a subtle and slight one.

    I have a similar complaint with those who call Netflix’s ‘Iron Fist’ whitewashed. The original character was white in the comics. Saying that he should be Asian, or that we failed to diversify when we had the opportunity is a bit silly. Just because the character uses martial arts doesn’t mean that he has to be Asian. That would be conforming to stereotypes.

    I understand that whitewashing happens in Hollywood, but I think it’s just become trendy to call everything whitewashed.