The original director of the Ghost in The Shell anime has come out in defense of casting Scarlett Johansson as the Major.
Mamoru Oshii spoke to IGN about the controversy surrounding casting a white actress to play a well-known Asian character. Oshii claims the pushback is ridiculous since Major herself is a neutral cyborg.
“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. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply,” he told IGN.
He also pointed out that numerous actors from the past have assumed other ethnic groups that were not their own, citing John Wayne as Genghis Khan and Omar Sharif playing a Slavic character in Doctor Zhivago. “If that’s not allowed, then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either. I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie.”
The director went on to state that artistic freedom should be free from political motivations, which is what he suspects is the influence behind the protests. Additionally, the only aspect of his original film he hopes features in the live-action remake is the message. “To question what sort of society will be born from the close interaction of man and technology, and how that will transform human existence,” he mused.
In this world of copious remakes, the one anime Oshii would like to see recreated as a live action is Patlabor, which he thinks should be set in America and made into a comedy a la Ghostbusters, “ I think that might be interesting,” he said.
Ghost in the Shell opens in theatres on March 31st, but the OG anime is available on Blu-Ray. We suggest brushing up on the incredible 1995 classic before diving into the live action version.
Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.