Long awaited cyberpunk anime staple Ghost in the Shell is finally coming to theaters as a live-action movie, but not without its fair share of off-screen drama. After taking a lot of heat under the battle cry of “whitewashing” from the internet about casting actress Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi – according to the latest teaser, it’s not Motoko at all.
Listen closely – that’s not Motoko they’re talking to. Clearly addressed as “Mira” and being the “first of her kind” – that is a huge deviation from what fans expected as a new twist on the dystopian adventure with the iconic Major.
This comes as a shock to fans – especially considering the director of the original Ghost in the Shell anime, Mamoru Oshii, gave his blessing to the new live-action and is quoted in the behind-the-scenes featurette as asserting Johansson was playing Motoko:
“Scarlett Johansson, playing Motoko from beginning to end, has gone above and beyond my expectations for the role,” he said. “I’m sure this will be the most gorgeous film in the series so far.” Oshii further asserted Ghost in the Shell remains “very true to the anime.”
While still retaining the title of “Major” – it’s clear this is not our beloved Motoko, at least in name. Are we getting a secret prequel to the already established Ghost in the Shell media already out there? Who is Mira? Will they give her a surname starting with a “K”? Are they changing her name to make it a more “international” story – the reason producer Steven Paul told Buzzfeed that the casting choice was sound?
“I don’t think it was just a Japanese story,” he said. “Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world. That’s why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it.”
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