Casting of Scarlett Johansson in anime adaptation called 'whitewashing'

The studio behind the live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell released the first image of star Scarlett Johansson in the role of Maj. Motoko Kusanagi, leading to a new wave of accusations of "whitewashing" the Asian character.

Ghost in the Shell follows cyborg counter-terrorism operatives around futuristic Japanese city

The studio behind the live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell released the first image of star Scarlett Johansson in the role of Maj. MotokoKusanagi, leading to a new wave of accusations of "whitewashing" the Asian character. 

Ghost in the Shell is a dystopian crime story set in 21st-century Japan, in which Maj. Kusanagi is a cybernetically enhanced counter-terrorist operative hunting a dangerous hacker. 

But despite the setting and the provenance of the story, most of the roles in Dreamworks' adaptation were given to non-Asian actors. 

Ming-Na Wen — who, like Johansson, plays a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — was one of the most prominent voices speaking out against the casting, which was originally announced in January 2015.  

Nina Mohan, a writer at BuzzFeed, wryly referenced another movie, Aloha, recently criticized for casting a white actor, Emma Stone, in an Asian role, Allison Ng. 

Asian actors, filmmakers particularly stung by the casting

The Asian lead in Pacific Rim was played by Rinko Kikuchi, whom many named as their preference to play Maj. Kusanagi. 

There were some who didn't see an issue with casting a white actor in a Japanese role, with this person pointing out that Kusanagi as drawn in the manga and anime doesn't look particularly Asian. 

But this observation ignores the historical influence of Western animation, particularly of Walt Disney, on Asian illustrators and animators. 

The movie is scheduled for release on March 31, 2017. 

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