But then this new Ghost in the Shell motion picture comes along and casts Scarlett Johansson in the lead role, making Major just like every other white protagonist they've encountered in dominant pop culture.
There's plenty more that's cool, too: the geisha bots (heavily featured in advertisements for the movie and exactly as fun as expected) and the action sequences that blur the line between film and anime and video game. Screenwriters Jamie Moss and William Wheeler likely saw the twist as an opportunity to add a new story to the Ghost in the Shell narrative, as in the original series, Major has a Japanese name, Motoko, but that's just a name given to her.
But, wait... are her memories real or are they implanted by the evil Hanka Robotics Corporation in order to persuade her into becoming a super crime-fighting machine?
"I worked out for so many hours". When Ms Johansson was announced as the Major, the film was condemned online as another example of "white-washing", that is, the Hollywood tendency to take Asian roles and hand them to white actors.
The truly global cast also includes Japanese entertainment legend "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, Danish Borgen star Pilou Asbæk and veteran of French cinema Juliette Binoche. There isn't much subtlety to the debates about human consciousness and artificial intelligence, nor is there much complexity to the gruffly violent characters, but the film has a nightmarish atmosphere all of its own. This manages to make Ghost in the Shell's racial politics even more groanworthy (and, judging from the screening I attended, laughable) than previously imagined. The first is that the film could have been longer.
China to US: Be 'cool-headed' on North Korea
Washington wants China, the North's neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons program. He said he would work with China to "bring North Korea to a different place where we are hopeful we can begin a dialogue".
If you can make it past the humdrum plot and Saturday morning cartoon-like dialogue, Ghost in the Shell does have some fantastic visual effects and cinematography. If you're looking for live action recreations of key scenes from the anime, all the boxes are checked: there's the fight in the pool, a version of the garbage truck chase, the spider tank, and pretty much any other piece of frenetic action that can be lovingly rendered in three dimensions.
Johansson plays Major Mira Killian, the first of her kind: A military-designed robot with a human brain, she's made for killing bad guys - and she does it in a high-tech, skin-colored wetsuit that lets her flicker into invisibility at will. The only biological part of her body is her brain (known as her "ghost"), and the film begins with Major being told that her human body drowned, and her brain was all that could be saved.
When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it.
Despite the nods to various portions of the "Ghost in the Shell" franchise, the movie guts the heart of that as well.