While Scarlett Johansson’s casting as Japanese cyborg Motoko Kusanagi has been controversial in the West, the original Tokyo-based publisher of the Ghost in the Shell manga seems totally cool with it.
Kodansha, one of Japan’s largest publishers, first put out the manga in 1989, and as AnimeNewsNetwork reports, began reprinting the manga after Production I.G successfully pitched the project to Hollywood on its behalf.
[Full disclosure: The now-defunct Kodansha International previously published two of my books.]
“Looking at her career so far, I think Scarlett Johansson is well-cast,” Sam Yoshiba, director of the international business division at Kodansha’s headquarters in Tokyo, told The Hollywood Reporter (via AnimeNewsNetwork and RocketNews). “She has the cyberpunk feel. And we never imagined it would be a Japanese actress in the first place.”
“This is a chance for a Japanese property to be seen around the world,” said Yoshiba.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, this comes after Yoshiba recently came back from the movie’s New Zealand set and said, as The Hollywood Reporter writes, “he was impressed by the respect being shown for the source material.”
Well, save for the bit about the main character being white and all.
While the manga’s publisher might have never imagined a Japanese actress, there was a recent report that stated the filmmakers ran tests to see if Johansson could look Asian through CG.
In Japan, however, many people online don’t seem too upset or even surprised about the casting. Some said they didn’t care because they had no plans to see the film anyway.