Paramount’s adaptation of Ghost in the Shell caught flack when Scarlett Johansson was cast as the live-action adaptation’s lead character, a robot named Motoko Kusanagi. Now, Mamoru Oshii, the director of the original anime adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, said that he has no problem with Johansson playing a role many have understood to be an Asian woman. His reasoning? Ghost in the Shell’s main character is a cyborg with no fixed form or race, he explained to IGN, so he doesn’t consider Johansson’s casting as Hollywood whitewashing. “What issue could there possibly be with casting her? The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her,” he told IGN via email. “Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.” Instead, Oshii says he’s satisfied with Johansson’s casting, and that he would prefer the live-action adaptation offer a new perspective on Masamune Shirow’s original Ghost in the Shell manga.
Scarlett Johansson. Photo: Paramount Pictures