The first trailer for the anticipated — and controversial — Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson made its global debut at a fan event in Tokyo. Johansson, as well as Japanese co-star Beat Takeshi and director Rupert Sanders, were on hand to premiere the trailer to the world.
Fans of the popular series will notice the familiar iconography of the manga and anime, with certain scenes — like the iconic conversation between Major (Johansson) and her right hand man Batou (Pilou Asbæk) on a boat — seemingly ripped from Mamoru Oshii's 1995 animated classic. Though, Sanders made it clear that Ghost in the Shell isn't a remake of Oshii's genre-defining work; it's a reimagining. The trailer also clarifies that this film is a "coming of age story" of sorts for Major, an elite government agent with a human mind (ghost) inside of a synthetic body (shell).
From the very first sequence, which features the animatronic Blue Geisha, to the neon kanji signs throughout the futuristic cityscape, Ghost in the Shell is awash in Japanese imagery. (The film was shot in New Zealand and Hong Kong.) However, the decision to cast Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi — now known solely as Major — as a character who is so culturally significant to Japanese people still weighs heavily on the film. When asked about Johansson's casting at the fan event, Sanders said, "I think whenever you cast someone, someone's going to be critical of it. To me, I stand by my decision. She's the best actress of her generation, and I was flattered and honored that she would be in this film."
That being said, the film does seem to capture the philosophical sentiment of its complex source material with the long-awaited introduction of Michael Pitt's cyber terrorist Kuze. The only thing missing is sadly composer Kenji Kawai's original score. Although, fans were treated to a look at the film's opening shelling sequence — which mirrors that of the 1995 anime's opening — and Kawai himself was at the drums to help ring in this new era of Ghost in the Shell. (At this time, Sanders has no idea if Kawai's music will make it into the final film, as he hasn't finished it yet.)
Ghost in the Shell hits theaters March 31, 2017.