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If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s a complex one spread over three volumes and numerous anime, telling the story of cyberpunk near future where most humans have cyberbrains, able to interface with various computer networks, though in some cases, people can actually have entirely synthetic brains and even prosthetic bodies, which makes them the equivalent of cyborgs. Lead character Major Motoko Kusanagi is such a person, a member of the Mobile Armored Riot Police working for the counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9. She is investigating the Puppeteer, a cyber-criminal who is hacking into cyberbrains, though she soon discovers a secret that changes everything.
An animated full-feature film was released in 1995 (read our review here) to high acclaim, and now the live-action version is in full swing. Based on the manga series, Spielberg has since mostly stepped away, though his DreamWorks production company is producing and now Rupert Sanders is in the director’s chair, most known for Snow White and the Huntsman. Jonathon Herman, who was recently nominated for best screenplay for Straight Outta Compton is the lead writer. Last year, Margot Robbie was initially cast as Kusanagi, though dropped out due to her commitments to Suicide Squad and in her place, Scarlett Johansson stepped in, no stranger to comic book characters on film. Still, neither of these actresses are Japanese, so fans may wince as the story will obviously be altered to change either the setting or the characters background. That alone is enough to merit some worry as there are certainly plenty of a well-established Japanese actresses who could really make this something special (our pick being Aoi Miyazaki). Shifting the classic story to an homogenized Hollywood sci-fi production could spell potential worry, too, in toning this down to a generic adventure.
That said, further cast news has been released, with Michael Pitt tapped as the film’s villain, named the Laughing Man, originally rumored to be Sam Riley. Considered a secondary, though no less intimidating bad guy in the series, the Laughing Man is an expert hacker named after a J. D. Salinger short story, a writer the villain is obsessed with. He is best know for his ability to conceal his face in network feeds and video footage by superimposing a special logo over his face. Pilou Asbæk, who worked with Johansson in Luc Besson‘s Lucy, will play along side her here as Batou, second in command under Kusanagi.
It will be interesting to see how the producers of the live-action film will tackle the violence and sexuality that made Masamune Shirow‘s manga so impactful. Manga series have not always had much success making the transition from page to screen (Dragonball Z is considered the worst), though the influence of Ghost in the Shell is still as strong as it was on its release. Given that the film is not set for release until spring of 2017, we still have a long time to stay curious, but surely details will be made available as filming continues. No story information is known at this time.
So what do you think? Are you a fan of the series? Are you looking forward to a live-action adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.