This will come both as good and bad news for many anime fans: Variety reports that Scarlett Johansson has signed on for the lead role in the Dreamwork's live-action adaptation of the classic science fiction anime Ghost in the Shell.
The film is not yet greenlit, but with Johansson on board chances are looking good. Ghost in the Shell revolves around a cyborg character named Motoko Kusanagi, who is a member of a Japanese anti-terrorism taskforce that fights cybercrime in the future. Margie Robbie was rumored to be sought after for the film but decided to step out of negotiations to focus on her role as Harley Quinn in the upcoming Suicide Squad film.
It's good news to have such a high quality (and badass) actress playing Kusanagi in the film. Johansson has proved she is a bankable action star in recent years with her performances as Black Widow in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Coupled with her other recent film work, including Lucy, Her and Under the Skin, Johansson is no stranger to science fiction and she seems the perfect person to bring the cybernetic Kusanagi to life on screen.
The bad news for some anime fans is that, as is readily apparent, Johansson is not Japanese. Some held out hope that Hollywood would cast an Asian woman in the lead role for the film. With Johansson's casting it seems safe to assume Kusanagi's character will be modified somewhat. At the very least her Japanese name is likely to be changed into something more easily digestible for western audiences, and it remains to be seen if the film will take place in a futuristic Tokyo.
Regardless, the casting could have gone much worse. Attached to direct the picture is Rupert Sanders, who last worked on Snow White and the Huntsman starring Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart. The choice of director is likely to make some groan, but Sanders if nothing else does have an eye for great visuals. Here's to hoping the brilliance of the original anime film isn't lost in translation.