I don’t understand where people get the idea that Motoko Kusanagi looks like or is “typically Japanese”, I wonder if the people being outraged at the moment regarding the casting choices of the upcoming live action movie even read the Manga which the movies and series are loosely based on. Here is a pretty typical cover from the manga just to illustrate my point. And if you are in any way familiar with the art of Masmune Shirow, his ideal of feminine beauty incorporates “typically” European, Japanese, Chinese, and Latina features. This is true for most of his character including: Deunan in Appleseed and Leana in Dominion as well as Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell.
Given that all we know about Motoko Kusanagi’s origins in the Manga and the Anime was that she was orphaned in a plane crash before the age of six and received a full-body cybernetic replacement, she could be anyone, of any original race or nationality or even an AI. Her self-identity issues are a major theme in the Manga and Anime. She herself doesn’t even remember her original name. Scarlett Johansson looks a great deal like the character, both in her body type and her facial features. I think she is a good choice for the role. Considering the very nature of the mythos of the Ghost in the Shell franchise where the “Ghost” can be transplanted into any cybernetic body.
I won’t be surprised if this was addressed and explained to some kind of satisfactory conclusion. When you are dealing with a franchise like Ghost in the Shell where gender and race and even spirituality are considered more fluid, because of the advancements in cyborg technology. Then some allowances must be considered in casting but only to a point and not at cost of story. Scarlett Johansson is a fine actress and a socially conscious person and no doubt if issues like this were raised in her mind, I suspect she might have had second thoughts about accepting the role. If the scriptwriters know the source material enough I am sure the fans will forgive the casting choice.
These days it seems we constantly speak about casting choices based on their ethnicity and not talent. Scarlett Johansson has proven she can carry a leading role of this significance all on her own. I would rather they gamble on a renowned actress, which I will be confident will knock it out of the park versus a potential unknown. That the problem today people overly-judge studios for not being multicultural perhaps that true in some cases but there first priority is get the big name actors signed up, because that is what fills up the movies theaters and gets the money rolling in. Hollywood is a business, they make casting choices based on the amount of money they will make off a certain movie.
That is why so many A list stars are extremely attractive white people, that is what sells, and unfortunately that is the truth and some people cannot seem to accept that. Do the people who complain and scream on social media expect Hollywood to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for a movie with actors that no one has ever heard of just because the original story “might” have Japanese people in it? They are adapting Ghost in the Shell for an worldwide audience in case you haven’t noticed. And this adaptation will be no different than the remakes of Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, Infernal Affairs, The Departed, Oldboy etc. But you did not hear these people complain about those movies casting choices.
Majority of the people complaining are the narrow minded fan-boys and Social Justice Warriors. It makes me a little crazy when people assume that because it is a Japanese Anime/Manga, all the characters must be Japanese. I would argue that Motoko Kusanagi is somewhat race-less, and that she could therefore be played by any actress with something of a physical resemblance. Give her a purple wig, and I am pretty sure that the physical resemblance will be actually quite striking. Scarlett Johansson is one of the biggest female stars of the moment, and adding her name to a movie guarantees a certain draw. Bigger names mean bigger audiences, which means bigger box office figures simple as that.
It is not Hollywood’s fault that Asian actors and actresses don’t draw money in, it’s the consumers. Ghost in the Shell is going to be a big budget production, and that justifies the casting of a major star known to a global audiences. The goal in adapting existing properties is to expand the audience, beyond the niche market that Ghost in the Shell currently occupies. And just for the record I am a massive Ghost in the Shell fan, and I seriously don’t mind the role being played by Scarlett Johansson as long as she delivers the performance. We know she can act, she can do action, and Hollywood knows she has the star power to fill the movie theater seats.
And I for one am sick and tired of this Social Justice Warrior double standard racial crap, which gets thrown around these days. I have no racial selectivity based-bias. I could care less if they have Scarlett Johansson, Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, or Shailene Woodley to play the role of the Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell. Talent trumps ethnicity any day in my books when it comes to movies. While I do have some issues regarding the casting choices so far, I am much more concerned that Hollywood will come up with a half arsed plot which will be disservices to the series and its philosophical views on race and spirituality.