When Paramount announced that Scarlett Johansson was cast to play the Major in their Ghost in the Shell adaptation, they were met with less than enthusiastic reactions. Accusations of white washing and cultural hijacking came pouring in from every corner of the internet. After having seen the trailer, I think that the conversation about Ghost in the Shell needs to change from “ScarJo isn’t even Japanese” to “HOLY SMOKES THIS MOVIE LOOKS AMAZING!” because holy smokes, this movies looks amazing.
From the start, we’re shown that Johansson’s Kusanagi is a force to be reckoned with, and that this is a world that, though familiar (think Minority Report and Robocop), we’ve never really seen before at the movies. Johansson is cool, calculated, mechanical, yet inquisitive; robotic, with just a hint of humanity. The set design is clever, and its Asian influences are countered by the industrial feel of Niihama’s (the movie’s central location) hyper-urban sprawl. We’re given glimpses of the anime’s influence on the film in the form of robot geishas, the Major’s thermoptic suit (fan service and function, all in one), and the garbageman action sequence from the first Ghost in the Shell animated film. Also making appearances in the trailer are Pilous Asbæk as Batou, Kusanagi’s second in command, and Takeshi “Beat” Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki, chief of Section 9.
The colors are vibrant, the character designs are unique, and the story promises not just action, but intrigue, mystery, and discovery. It really does feel like an anime brought to life, a feat that I think only one other movie has achieved – the Wachowski’s fun and vibrant Speed Racer. With Hollywood riding the American superhero wave at the box office, it’s time that producers start taking chances on foreign properties. Ghost in the Shell, with it’s budget, cast, and clout, represents what could be the first in a big wave of live action anime adaptations to come to the American cinema. In a world of serious, uniform, and sometimes drab looking superhero films, I think we’re due for something more vibrant, fringe, and fun.
Tell us what you think! Does the trailer change your opinion of the film? Do you think that Hollywood is going to start buying options to adapt more anime to the big screen? Which anime would you most like to see as a live action movie? Join us in the conversation below and let us know what you think! Ghost in the Shell premieres on March 31, 2017.