Ever since Scarlett Johansson was first cast as Major in the film version of the manga Ghost in the Shell, there have been shouts of white-washing. To make matters worse, there were rumors that CGI was texted to make Johansson appear Asian. Many fans of the source material also say that the issue is that the story is inherently Japanese, but for the first time, someone involved in the Ghost in the Shell production is speaking out against all of these claims.
Buzzfeed caught up with producer Steven Paul, who recently announced his plans to develop another manga series to film, Lone Wolf and Cub, as we reported a few days ago. In the interview, Paul suggests that Ghost in the Shell is not a Japanese-specific story so much as an international one.
“I don’t think it was just a Japanese story. 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.”
In the upcoming movie,
“There [are] all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell,” he said of the cast, which also includes Pilou Asbaek, Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Kaori Momoi, and Chin Han. “We’re utilizing people from all over the world. … There’s Japanese in it. There’s Chinese in it. There’s English in it. There’s Americans in it.””
Paul also clarified that Johansson’s character will be called “the Major” rather than Major Kusanagi.
“I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it. They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed […] I think we’ve done the manga comic great honor. As I said, the fans will be very happy, because there’s a great respect that’s been paid to the manga. We’ve been very, very careful. Obviously, there’s some new imagination, as well. I mean, like anything, when you’re making a movie, you’ve gotta bring your own.”
Still, it feels like Paul may be moving away from this kind of controversy for his next project, which he says will feature a mostly Japanese cast. Take from that what you will!
Here’s the official synopsis for Ghost in the Shell:
Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” follows the Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.