Paramount’s upcoming live-action version of Ghost in the Shell has been the subject of controversy for months now, with the studio fielding accusations of whitewashing the source material. Granted, taking one of the most beloved stories in the history of manga – as well as a pretty solid anime film – and then adapting it for American audiences was probably a bad idea to begin with. But retaining the original Japanese setting and aesthetic, casting Scarlett Johansson in the leading role of a character originally named Kusanagi and not expecting a fair bit of outrage seems like willful ignorance. And that was before those rumors of visual effects artists running tests to make the film’s white actors appear to be of Asian descent.
But now, the studio has deemed fit to actually cast an Asian actress in the big-budget remake, with THR reporting that Rila Fukushima has landed an unspecified role. Best known for portraying Katana on The CW’s Arrow, as well as appearing with Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine, Fukushima will be joining a cast that includes non-Asians Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche and Pilou Asbæk.
But lest you think the Ghost in the Shell cast is entirely composed of white people, that’s not the case – it’s just that the white actors announced up to this point all seem to have larger roles than their Asian counterparts. Veteran Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano might be the exception to that rule, however – he’s set to portray Daisuke Aramaki, the Section 9 chief that Johansson’s character will take orders from.
Ghost in the Shell is currently in production with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders at the helm, working from a script by Jonathan Herman and Jamie Moss. The film is currently scheduled to hit theaters on March 31, 2017.
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