Why I’m excited for Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is a fantastic, Japanese animated film that came out in 1995. After its extensive success, Rupert Sanders has decided to take on the film and recreate it, but this time in live-action. The new adaptation is set to come out on March 31st of 2017 and stars Scarlett Johansson as the main character.

When the film was first announced and the cast list came out, people were blown away with rage over the fact Scarlett Johansson would be playing Motoko Kusanagi, the kickass half-human, half-robot that dominates in Ghost in the Shell.

The big question is, why is it that people are mad? Even though some may be opposed to Scarlett Johansson, I’m going to explain why I personally believe she’s a perfect fit. Let’s look a little deeper as to why that is!

1. Being drawn by a Japanese person doesn’t make her Japanese

First things first, friends. You must remember that just because the anime is written and drawn by a Japanese studio, does NOT make the character in the anime itself, Japanese.

It’s easy to assume that, but let me reassure you of something. Have you seen Titan A.E? The main girl in the film is specifically MENTIONED that she is half Asian. It is a vital part of the storyline that she is Asian, because she’s supposed to be the only one left. She is DRAWN to be Asian, so obviously it would be completely ridiculous to have someone who isn’t Asian play her character in a live action, right?

Akima - TITAN AE

Here’s another example. In Attack on Titan, a very popular anime we all know about. The only character that’s ACTUALLY Asian in the entire anime is Mikasa! It is specifically mentioned that all the characters are German, as the story is assumed to take place in Germany; or at least somewhere in Europe.

AoT Germany

The anime was drawn by a Japanese studio, and the movie was produced by one as well. All the characters in the live-action movie are Japanese, which is extremely false and misrepresents every single character in the film. Not only are they not German, they’re not even anything close related to. Where were all the complaints then?

So why are people so upset over the fact that Scarlett Johansson is playing a character that is not once mentioned of Asian descent? As seen in the original movie as well as the remake, Motoko has purple hair and red eyes. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but that’s not a typical look for those who are Asian! Or anyone, really. And let’s not forget, she’s a cyborg.

The name Motoko Kusanagi, I understand, is Japanese. This is most likely only because it was a film written by someone who primarily spoke the Japanese language, which doesn’t really have anything to do with how the character looks or is represented. Masamune Shirow never made Kusanagi out to be Japanese, so it was left open for interpretation. Meaning Rupert Sanders had full creative control to showcase what he thought the original was and turn it into what he thought. Just like Shirow wrote Ghost in the Shell as something he sees in his mind. It’s all about perspective. If you want her to be Asian, you have my permission to direct your own film starring an all Asian cast! That’s 100% okay. Just remember that not everyone may feel the same way. I, for one, do not view her as any specific race, and I’m assuming Sanders felt the same way. 

2. Scarlett looks really similar to the character

Scarlett is probably the best person they could’ve picked to play Kusanagi. Number one, just look at this side by side.

Motoko / Ghost in the Shell

Motoko irl / Ghost in the Shell

They look so ridiculously similar.

On top of that, Scarlett Johansson has proved to us, plenty of times, that she is made to make action films. She is the one and only Black Widow in The Avengers, and she plays Lucy in the hit action film called Lucy. She knows her stuff when it comes to action films, and casting her as a character that is a badass half-human, half-robot is something that would be cool for everyone to get on board with. She is perfect as Kusanagi, showcasing her full potential. Not to mention the fact she probably sped up the overall production of the movie because she already knew how to get the work done.

3. Casting a non-Asian actor doesn’t make the director hate Asian people

A white director, or any other race besides an Asian director, who casts someone in his film who ISN’T Asian, doesn’t mean they’re against it. It just means that they didn’t see their movie with an Asian star, and that’s okay. That has to go with any race as well, not just Asian. You can’t blame a director, a creator if you will, for not wanting to cast someone is African-American because they don’t want to. You can be upset when a director wants someone who is Russian to play their character because when they read the script, they saw it that way.

That’s the whole point of being a director; you have creative control to use whatever film it is as an outlet to express yourself. You know when you’re reading a book, and you envision a character as this specific actor or someone you know? Directors can do that too! Like I said before, you have everyone’s permission to make a film the way you see it. But if it’s not your film, you should always remember to keep an open mind and give the director a chance to showcase how they saw it.

I completely understand that if it was historically inaccurate, how it could be awfully annoying. But considering the fact Ghost in the Shell is a science fiction film, left open for many alternatives and perspectives, there’s no reason why any of this should be argued against.

4. Hollywood works for money, we should all know that

Hollywood needs to make certain quotas and meet certain standards to make a successful film. This is going to determine how everyone looks at the director, and in general, basically determines a director’s career. Directors all go through this scare when making a film; although some honestly could care less what anyone thinks.

Anyway, Hollywood sets rules and regulations regarding film funding, etc. In order to pull money in and be successful, it is so much easier to pick an actor that is guaranteed to make money than one who is not; to guarantee success as well as your career.

Scarlett Johansson is an actor that can pull in an entire audience just based on the fact that she’s the star. It has nothing to do with the movie or storyline, Johansson can fill an entire theater just because she’s in it. To me, that’s enough reason to cast her! 

5. Scarlett Johansson is a draw – meaning a lot of non-anime fans will be drawn to the movie

We know Scarlett as a few main characters in films. Like I mentioned before, she’s Black Widow in The Avengers, Lucy in Lucy, Charlotte in Lost in Translation, and: So. Much. More. So much! She’s an A-list actress. Who doesn’t recognize her?

Because of this, Johansson will be able to pull in a much more general audience and not just anime fans. This is especially important because it makes the film a lot more widely popular, and opens up the door for more people to become interested in anime. Whether or not you like that, that’s so important to studios who create anime. Even so, this will benefit the director of Ghost in the Shell, Rupert Sanders, because it will contribute to the funds. And, if successful, will lead him to a pathway of other potential movies to direct and be funded. Again, that is so important in someone’s career.

Ghost in the Shell looks like such a fantastic movie. Once you realize that characters in anything can be fit to someone’s specific creative mind, it leaves you open with possibility more or less; it gives you a new perspective. And once you establish that Kusanagi isn’t specifically made to be one specific race, it makes a lot more sense why she isn’t Japanese. Also, seeing that directors need to make money and pull in a wide audience to further their career and be successful, it’ll help you to understand how important it was for Scarlett Johansson to star in it. Lastly, once you see that she is a great candidate for a super cool cyborg and have a look at her extensive resume, you will see how you couldn’t possibly cast anyone else as Motoko!

I am so ridiculously excited for this film, and I know that Scarlett Johansson will absolutely slay in it. I hope March 31st comes quick!

About author

Amber Karpaty
Amber Karpaty 215 posts

You may or may not have seen me dancing around on our YouTube channel. I really love psychology and dissecting shows/film. Also your token anime nerd.

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