If you felt uncomfortable with Scarlett Johansson’s controversial casting in the live-action adaptation of the “Ghost in the Shell,” we have good news: The original Japanese anime film is returning to the big screen for a limited time!
Lionsgate and Funimation Films announced this week that Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 “Ghost in the Shell” will play at 110 theaters across the U.S. for two days only, on Feb. 7 and 8.
Oshii’s original animated film is based on a manga series of the same name that Masamune Shirow created. It follows government agent Major Motoko Kusanagi, a human-cyborg hybrid, as she chases down a mysterious computer hacker known as The Puppet Master.
Fans of the original series were furious that Johansson was cast as Major Matoko Kusangi in the live-action version, produced by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks. It’s a blatant example of Hollywood whitewashing (yet again) a traditionally Japanese role, they said.
Critics became even more frustrated when reports surfaced that the film’s producers were testing visual effects to make Johansson appear more Asian. Paramount admitted to the tests, but denied that any visual effects were used to alter Johansson’s appearance.
Asian-American actresses, including “Fresh off the Boat” star Constance Wu, spoke out against the controversial casting and critics launched a petition demanding the film’s producers to consider an Asian actress for the role.
Showings of the original “Ghost in the Shell” film will play more than a month ahead of the live-action film, which debuts in the U.S. on March 31. But its resurrection doesn’t seem to be in response to the backlash against the live-action film.
When Lionsgate and Funimation announced the original film’s return to theaters, they also detailed plans to release a Blu-Ray collector’s edition of the anime film to the market on March 7.
“‘Ghost in the Shell’ is truly a seminal work in anime cinema and it helped firmly establish a market for the genre with U.S. movie audiences,” Fumination founder and chief executive Gen Fukunaga said in a press release Monday. “We’re excited to be partnering with Lionsgate to bring the original ‘Ghost in the Shell’ movie back to U.S. theaters.”
The original Japanese “Ghost in the Shell” film will air in theaters with English subtitles on Feb. 7, while the English-dubbed version of the anime film will play in theaters on Feb. 8. You can find a list of theaters featuring the film here.
Below, watch a side-by-side comparison of “Ghost in the Shell’s” original 1995 anime film and the upcoming 2017 live-action version.