Ghost in the Shell - Kusanagi

The casting of Scarlett Johansson as the main character of the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie has been controversial to say the least. Hollywood has a nasty history of whitewashing roles which could often be played by less represented groups. This isn’t even the first time it’s happened with anime adaptations. Speed Racer and Dragon Ball: Evolution both had primarily white casts. (Though Speed Racer at least is actually a pretty awesome movie) For many, this is another point in that trend, forsaking the roots and culture of the material.

Regardless of the outcry of fans and advocates for diverse representation, it seems like the film is moving forward. Scarlett Johansson said, “It’s happening. It will be shooting the beginning of next year, so I think we start production January or February and it’s me and Rupert [Sanders], and that’s all I know.”

The film has been in the works for six years but this seems to confirm that the film is going to go into production with a white woman in the lead role of the character named Motoko Kusanagi, unless the internet petitions change the producer’s minds.

Personally speaking, I’ve been a big fan of Ghost in the Shell since it began airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. As a fan, I’d love to see the franchise receive wider western exposure. However, if the trade-off is a film that ignores the heritage of its creators and has to change its main character to appease some audience that would be frightened off by any protagonist that wasn’t lily white, I can’t see this movie exposing people to the manga and anime that I grew to love.


Jerry Hrechka
Jerry Hrechka is a writer and journalist. He was born in the Catskill mountains and now resides in Georgia, still trying to work out how exactly that happened. His work can also be found on as well as on his horror podcast 1001 Frights.