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'Ghost In The Shell' Trailer Shows Cyberpunk Neo-Tokyo (Video)

Paramount Pictures teased audiences with the first official trailer for "Ghost In The Shell," and the upcoming movie looks like it's honoring its manga roots right on down to scenes taken panel-by-panel from its source material (video below).

"Ghost In The Shell," called "Mobile Riot Police" in Japan, is a seminal Japanese franchise based on a fictional counterterrorist task force in near-future Tokyo.

Its protagonist, Maj. Motoko Kusanagi, is a cyborg wearing a "full body prosthesis" -- in other words, her body is entirely synthetic and is built around her brain, the only surviving part of her original organic self.

American actress Scarlett Johansson, who plays Maj. Kusanagi in the film, introduced the trailer by saying the production crew has been "hard at work" bringing the series to life.

"We are finally ready to give you a look at it," Johansson said. "I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to play the major, and I am so excited to be able to show you a glimpse into her world."

The trailer opens with a robotic geisha walking slowly down a corridor before cutting to a rooftop view of 2029 Tokyo awash in neon, a visual hallmark of the cyberpunk genre. There's a brief clip of a gathering in one of the city's high rises, interrupted by Japanese gangsters who storm in with submachineguns blasting.

"I'm going in," Kusanagi intones, before dropping from atop a skyscraper and crashing through the windows to stop the gangsters' attack. The brief clip shows her character performing a wall run while firing a handgun at the gangsters, reminiscent of 1999's "The Matrix."

The trailer had more than 820,000 views within a day of its posting. The highly anticipated movie has a release date of March 2017.

First released as a manga -- Japanese comic book -- series in 1989, "Ghost In The Shell" advanced and pioneered some early concepts involving technology, biomechanics, hacking and networks.

Its visual style is heavily influenced by cyberpunk pioneers, including 1988's "Akira" and William Gibson's "Neuromancer."

But Johansson's casting has been controversial. On social media, the film's producers have been accused of "whitewashing" the film by casting white actors with European features for characters who were Japanese in the original manga.

Director Rupert Sanders defended his decision to cast Johansson, telling reporters at a Tokyo press event that the film features "an amazing international cast of people that I’ve always really wanted to work with."

“I stand by my decision -- she’s the best actress of her generation," Sanders said, reports Newsweek. "I was flattered and honored that she would be in this film. I think, certainly people who were around the original anime, have been vehemently in support of her because she’s incredible and there are very few like her."

Sources: Paramount Pictures/YouTube, Newsweek / Photo credit: Paramount Pictures/YouTube

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