Can Scarlett Johansson pull off the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in the film adaptation of "Ghost in the Shell?" Many have made note of that fact that she's a non-Asian playing an Asian character — but fans of the manga series that inspired the live-action picture can come up with their own answer as the first trailer dropped Sunday.
"Ghost in the Shell," due out March 31, is based on Masamune Shirow's manga series of the same name. It's set in a fictional Japanese city and follows Major and members of a covert task force within the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. The task force, known as Public Security Section 9, takes on cybercriminals in a future where the line between technology and biology is blurred. Major is a member of this crime-fighting brigade but also is a symbol of the biotechnological future, as the character has gone through various mechanical upgrades that endow her with special abilities.
Joining Johansson in the cast are "Beat" Takeshi Kitano ("Battle Royale" series), Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") and Michael Pitt ("Hannibal," "Boardwalk Empire").
The film has been part of the diversity conversation in Hollywood, with some saying it's another example of the industry "whitewashing" roles and stories, in this case opting for a white actress to play an Asian character. (Add to that list Matt Damon saving China in next year's "The Great Wall.")