"I haven't worked on it for about a year ... We were going to adapt the whole six-episode graphic novel" says Whitta.
He adds that he got notes from Otomo while working on the script, but his work "was very, very preliminary. We did a couple of drafts of the script but, when I was there at least, it never got wrapped up to the point where I think he would get really hands on."
Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby now have scripting duties on the project...
A big part of what made the original work was its origins, setting and milieu — what it evoked, and where it evoked it from. You can't just move that arbitrarily to "New New York" or something of that ilk without losing a lot. Maybe their idea was to have a kind of post-9/11 NYC vibe as a substitute for the neo-Hiroshima disaster in the original story, but the two aren't interchangeable.
I'm in the middle of reading the newly-republished edition of the original manga — look for a full writeup on that soon-ish. Rereading it reminded me of just how jaundiced a view the story has of humanity — that no species so preoccupied with status, petty territorial disputes and other egomania deserves to evolve into anything better. Which, now that I think about it, isn't all that outlandish.