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Netflix unveils first photo for new Ghost in the Shell anime series

One of Netflix's most anticipated projects is breaking out of its shell.

At the Annecy International Animation Festival in Annecy, France on Tuesday, June 11, Netflix presented its hotly anticipated panel Netflix Original Anime: A Celebration of Anime and a Look Ahead. There, the streaming site's executives revealed the first photo from the new Ghost in the Shell anime series Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Courtesy of Variety, the snap shows nothing more than the face of the rebooted anime's protagonist: the cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi. Her gray eyes look directly at the observer, the gun in her hand pointed at them as well. Russian artist Ilya Kuvshinov, who has amassed a sizable online following with her captivating artwork, draws Major in a distinct visual style. Her eyes are wide, her lashes long, and her skin as glossy as ever. Major as drawn for Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is definitely a Kuvshinov creation, and she looks incredibly badass, if we do say so ourselves. 

Ultraman directors Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama, the minds behind Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, confirmed during Netflix's anime panel that Kuvshinov will serve as the lead character designer on the series. Though the Ghost in the Shell property, created by writer and illustrator by Masamune Shirow, has been adapted for several animated series and movies plus a live-action film, it has never before been rendered in 3DCG format. This will change with Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: Production I.G. and the Japanese 3DCG experts at Sola Digital Arts will bring Kuvshinov's character designs to life.

Hopefully a fresh new look for Ghost in the Shell will be enough to lure viewers in for SAC_2045. It won't be a task easily achieved, given we're living in a post-Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell world. That film came ripping through the sky, tumbling down even before it arrived in theaters, and crash-landed at the box office. Critics slammed the Johansson-led Ghost in the Shell for whitewashing Major Motoko Kusanagi, and argued that the film had nothing else going for it apart from its gorgeous visuals. Bleeding Cool's Kaitlyn Booth offered a harsh (but largely true) summary about the 2017 live-action adaptation: "Ghost in the Shell is a movie that falls apart in a truly spectacular way by the middle and fans of the source material are likely going to walk away mad. As for people who aren't familiar with the original, unfortunately they are likely going to wonder why this franchise is an iconic as it is."

Everyone at Camp Netflix and countless fans at home probably have their fingers crossed that Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 winds up a smashing success brilliant enough to clear our minds of the flick from 2017. If the series sadly suffers the same fate as that movie, at least SAC_2045 will be a sight to behold. 

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is expected to launch on Netflix sometime in 2020.