Paramount Pictures has recently released several short clips from the upcoming live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. The film, starring Scarlett Johansson as the cybernetic human and field commander of Public Security Section 9, Motoko Kusanagi, delves into a world where man and machine are practically indistinguishable. None of the clips are particularly long -- no more than fifteen seconds -- but they all have an air of mystery and pose more questions than answers.
Both clips above hearken back to scenes that any fan will quickly recognize. Kusanagi waking up with the city skyline visible her window mirrors one of the early shots from the 1995 movie. The android walking down a hall, dressed as a stylized geisha, calls back to the dolls in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.
It is unclear who the woman Kusanagi is talking to or what their relationship is. The question she asks Kusanagi, “what are you?”, is one of the overarching questions of the first movie. In a world of body doubles and rewritable memories, discovering yourself and your own agency is not as clear-cut as it is today.
This is our first shot of Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki, the chief of Section 9. The chief is not usually one for action, and, most of the time, he is issuing commands to Section 9 personnel. Seeing him firing a weapon at an unknown target is unexpected.
Kusanagi’s character displaying hesitation is new. In the 1995 movie, Kusanagi did not reveal her emotions but, instead, showed the depth of her convictions through her actions. She stumbles across a circle of cybernetic bodies, assumed to be victims of ghosthacking or empty androids without ghosts. This scene in particular is unclear, as it seems to be entirely new, hinting that the new movie will have its own story and not be a total remake of the original.
This film has already attracted a fair amount of controversy, where many fans have been angered over the whitewashing of the main cast -- Kusanagi, in particular. The manga, written by Masamune Shirow, debuted in 1989, when Japan was the global leader in technology. Completely disarmed after WWII, Japan was focused on rebuilding its economy and developing innovative technology, resulting in a unique relationship between man and machine. The entirety of the Ghost in the Shell franchise is based on that relationship, setting it apart from most futuristic sci-fi thrillers. It is hard to tell whether this western remake will retain the same spirit of the original or if it is merely trying to depict that futuristic world. Fans are hoping that it will be the former since, without this backstory, the story would cease to be Ghost in the Shell. The film is set to be released on March 31, 2017.