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Japanese Public Weighs In On Hollywood White-Washing of Ghost in the Shell


Many anime fans and also many who are not that have taken to the web to complain and feign surprise that Hollywood have cast a white actress in a role of a Japanese character. Said actress is Scarlett Johansson and said role is Motoko Kusanagi the lead in iconic anime film Ghost in the Shell.

Personally I think that the people complaining about white-washing simply don’t know how Hollywood works or that quite obviously this isn’t a literal adaptation in the sense they clearly presume it is. Scarlett Johansson will not be a character named Motoko Kusanagi, lets just get that straight to begin with, nor will it likely be set in Japan. If that is a deal breaker for you in an American film then you probably don’t watch many Hollywood movies.

That said, the general opinion of these detractors is that this is a case of racism in Hollywood which has a history of white-washing and yellow face. I won’t deny Hollywood’s dark past but if you watch the video below a Japanese youtuber by the name of Yuta interviewed Japanese people on the street as to what they thought of Scarlett Johansson playing this role in Ghost in the Shell.

Let’s just say they don’t quite see what all the fuss is about. Heck some even claim that they should be white because anime characters look white. Looks like ScarJo has the tick of approval.


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  1. * says

    The second paragraph is ridiculous. We do know how Hollywood works, and that’s exactly why people are complaining. Asian-Americans and Asians in general hardly ever get to star in movies, let alone in leading roles. If Asians can’t play as an Asian character and they choose someone white instead while more than plenty capable Asian actresses are available, it’s not right. Japanese people in Japan feel different about it, and that’s absolutely fine, but that doesn’t negate the way Asian-Americans feel about this. It doesn’t make it okay.

  2. Miranda says

    Scarlett DID play a character named Motoko Kusanagi, btw. And people who complain about whitewashing, well, it’s quite honestly rude to make such a sweeping statement and dismiss everyone as “not knowing how Hollywood works.” It’s just arrogant.

    I’m not upset over Major being played by Scarlett, she did an amazing job. However, the Japanese commenting on an issue dealing with American politics and that has roots in American film industry doesn’t really fit, unless they understand the intricacies of how racism occurs in America and how it is perpetuated today not only in casting, but also in the fact that there is a sheer lack of people of color among the A list actors/actresses, especially any Japanese women.

    That being said, GitS was phenomenal. This is one of the first Hollywood anime adaptions here in America, and I am thrilled, because there is a much bigger problem going on, and that is how Hollywood has ripped concepts and ideas and even plotlines from the Japanese animation industry for decades. Inception, Requiem for a Dream, the Matrix, etc. Not all of these are cases of cold-blooded theft, and some are honest inspiration, but in my opinion the anime industry doesn’t get the recognition it deserves at all, especially with how influential movies like Akira (1988) have been in the west.

    • Miranda says

      also to clarify my statement in the middle: the Japanese living and who have lived in Japan most or all of their lives do, certainly, have an say in whitewashing of their own race in films; however, you do have to consider that in a rather homogeneous society as they have (compared to America), they might not be as aware of the racism or bias that Japanese-Americans (and other people of color) still face today.

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