Normals, don't read this…
A new trailer for Ghost In the Shell, the upcoming live-action adaptation of Mamoru Oshii's towering 1995 anime film based on Shirow Masamune's cyberpunk manga, is out. That means it's time to analyze it, shot-by-shot, to see how it stacks up to the source material because this is important, okay?
Now, the upcoming movie has faced criticism for the decision to cast notable white woman Scarlett Johansson as the originally Japanese cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi. As someone who admires the original manga and film's treatment of ideas about embodiment and sexuality—where race is key—there's no real way to redeem or justify this decision from where I'm sitting.
Regardless, there's a new entry into the Ghost In the Shell series which means we have to pay attention to it. After reviewing the new trailer it looks like the film will, surprisingly, pay homage to the anime film in greater detail than we previously thought and could potentially take some plot points from the manga that were left out of the 1995 movie.
From the trailer, it looks like the film will include a shot-by-shot remake of the opening scene of the 1995 anime. In this scene, Kusanagi tears off her clothing to reveal her cyborg body and jumps off a building before doing some serious murdering. The first of many instances of robotic nudity in the anime, it both dares the viewer to sexualize Kusanagi and confronts them with the reality that her body is a terrifying weapon, a tool. After her assassination spree, Kusanagi does another swan-dive and disappears before the eyes of her shocked pursuers thanks to something called "thermoptic camouflage."
This got me really excited, because one of the greatest fight scenes in any medium is finally getting the live-action treatment. Thermoptic camouflage makes a return here as Kusanagi and her team chase a madman being controlled by a cybernetic terrorist through a bustling cityscape. During the final confrontation, Kusanagi uses her own thermoptic camouflage to kick his ass while invisible. She throws him around like a ragdoll and breaks his limbs with unsettling ease, and you don't even see her.
Yes, fellow obsessives, it looks like the robot spider-tank that appeared during the final battle in the 1995 anime is making a comeback. This one is sort of an educated guess because every scene in which the behemoth appears is quite dark, but the twin cannons and headlights are a dead giveaway. The car in the trailer scene threw me off initially before I realized that it also appears in the anime. Now that's dedication.
These two shots may appear unconnected, but together they suggest that the upcoming film may touch on plot points from the manga that didn't make it into the 1995 anime. In the trailer, it appears as though a robot designed to serve—notably, the robot is wearing traditional geisha garb—goes berserk and attacks. There's no comparable scene in the 1995 anime, but something similar happens in a subplot in the manga. In this subplot, robots are attacking their masters and while some of the attacks are explained by intentional espionage, others might be the result of a genuine robot revolt. "It's especially bad with the love-bot and industrial models," one character explains. The trailer suggests that the geisha robot was under the control of a terrorist, but who knows?
There's several other remade shots in the trailer for Ghost In the Shell, but they don't lend hints to the plot so much as just display a keen attention to detail. Regardless, here's all the ones I noticed, because they rock:
Also, Batou, Major Kusanagi's partner, looks exactly like he does in both the anime and the manga which is extremely awesome.
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Update: Eagle-eyed Twitter user @Nitroid noticed that the geisha attack in the trailer is likely a reference to a similar scene in an episode of the animated series, "Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex." While it's more likely that the film will reference the animated series over my interpretation of the manga, one can dream!