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So recently, the image of Scarlett Johansson as the live-action Ghost in the Shell‘s Major Motoko Kusanagi was released, and the response from fans of the anime/manga worldwide were pretty mixed. Some were just happy to see hints of the live-action version finally being shown, but many have voiced their unhappiness of what is seen as the whitewashing of a beloved Japanese character.

Many contend that there are plenty of Asian actresses that would have fit the bill and the casting of Scarlett Johansson only goes to show that Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity in its cast. We could go on about this issue, but that is another story.

Instead, what we’re going to do is list down a few Asian Actresses that could have been a better alternative for the role of Major Kusanagi in the movie.

1. Rinko Kikuchi

Rinko Kikuchi Pacific Rim
She’s Japanese, has anime experience, can do action and even has the correct hair!

Rinko Kikuchi is a definite, must mention for the role. Aside from the fact that she’s Japanese, she has a couple of other stuff in her CV that would make her great for the role.

She can definitely chop it for the action scenes based on what we’ve seen in Pacific Rim and when it comes to acting, please, she’s a freaking Oscar Nominee. There is also one more thing that would make her a great fit, her experience in anime/manga adaptations.

She’s been in the live-action adaptations for Liar Game 2, Gu-Gu Datte Neko de Aru and Moteki. And if that isn’t enough, she’s also done voice work for Ghost in the Shell anime’s director Mamoruu Oshii’s Sky Crawlers, which will likely make her familiar with the material.

2. Jamie Chung

Dragonball Jamie Chung
Yes, we know the Hollywood Dragon Ball movie was horrible. It did show Jamie Chung’s fighting chops though

Jamie Chung might, for some, be a weird choice for the role of Major Kusanagi but well just hear us out. Since one of the reasons for this “whitewashing” of Asian characters was the need for a more recognisable star, then Jamie Chung would definitely fit the bill.

She has been successful not only on TV but has managed to land some pretty decent roles in movies like Sucker Punch, Big Hero 6 and Sin City: A Dame to Kill for. Many people would also recognise her as Mulan from the hit series Once Upon A Time.

Those roles have shown that she can make it when it comes from an acting point of view and as for the action part, she does have some martial arts training and not to mention that time she played the lead role in this little-known movie called Samurai Girl. 

3. Rila Fukushima

Rila Fukushima Arrow
She has the comic book character approved seal

When it comes to comic book roles, Rila Fukushima has done it in spades. She already played Yukio in the The Wolverine movie and we all loved her when she picked up the sword to play DC hero Katana in the Arrow tv series.

Both roles show that she can easily take on the action and fight scenes that will definitely be in the Ghost in the Shell movie and her portrayal of Tatsu in the Arrow series has shown that she can at take on the more dramatic scenes with ease.

4. Bae Doona

Doona Bae Sense8
She has the attitude, the action chops and the hair for the role

Bae Doona, or Doona Bae might not be in the radar for a few of you here but if you’ve been following Netflix’s sci-fi series Sense8, you’ll recognise her as Sun Bak one of the main characters of the show. That or if you’ve seen the Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas movie.

What makes her appropriate for the role of Major Kusanagi is the level of bad-assery she showed while playing Sun in Sense8. After all, if you could take out a bunch of gun wielding gangsters alone with just a machete, or beat up grown man one-on-one in a kickboxing ring, keeping Japan safe shouldn’t be a problem. And that attitude? Perfect. Also, did we mention she has just the right hairstyle, like Rinko Kikuchi, for the role?

5. Maggie Q

Nikita Maggie Q
Maggie Q is the perfect embodiment of Major Kusanagi (Image taken from the New York Times)

We saved the best for last. Come on, when we know you’re thinking it. When it was first announced that Hollywood was making the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell, many of you would have had her on the top of your mind as Major Kusanagi. And why shouldn’t she be?

While Maggie Q might have started off her career over in Hong Kong, but she’s managed to make quite and impact over at Hollywood as well. Especially since she was cast as the role of Nikita for the second remake of the classic femme fatale movie of the same name.

If you ever watched the Nikita tv series, you know she fits Major Kusanagi to the T. She has the attitude and behaviour covered and as for the action scenes? Like we said, have you seen her in Nikita?

So that’s our choices of Asian actresses who should have played Major Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell live-action movie. Who would have been your choice? Do let us know in the comments below.

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Co-Founder of The Hyped Geek. More than a decade of covering everything in the tech and gadget world has made him quite mad. When he's not tinkering away with any gadgets, he thinks he's piloting a Gundam, fighting in the One Year War... whatever that's supposed to be. Drop him a line at [email protected]
  • Kirsten Corby

    Ming Na. Rinko Kikuchi is too young.

    • King Kakarotto

      are you kidding me? rinko kikuchi is older than scarlett johansson by 3 years.

      • Lynnister

        Asians.

      • Kirsten Corby

        I always thought of Kusanagi as middle-aged. She has the kind of weary toughness that comes from long experience. My choice would be Ming Na.

  • iceblast

    I’m glad they are using SJ for Major. I think she’ll do a good job for GitS. A Anime movie would usually bomb in America, but with a big star like SJ taking the lead, it gives this movie a real chance to be taken seriously.

    Honestly, though. Most the characters in GitS don’t look Asian anyway. Most Anime doesn’t look Asian, it’s more Western, but really not a race that can be found on this planet.

    So, I have no problem with this movie being mostly white, if you look at the characters of this anime, you’ll see, Asian isn’t what jumps to mind. I think the actors actually look a great deal like their counterpart.

    So, I think it comes down to the story, and how well they can make it.

    • Daniel Lee

      Still can’t take Blackwidow seriously.

      A cartoon character with jokes and punny action in a dark sci-fi series?

      hehehe

      • Batman

        Yeah and look at Michael Keaton. A comedian who the played the role of a dark batman film

    • Gato_wiska

      hahaha the movie flopped

      • iceblast

        It’s been out 5 days, and it’s done 58 million already. I wouldn’t call that a flop.

        If it wasn’t for SJ, the movie wouldn’t have even gotten close to that.

        I think this movie will make a lot of money after it hits DVD’s and such, as well.

        • Gato_wiska

          it is a flop, paramount already announced it as one. stop making excuses for this critically panned racist white washing crap.

          • iceblast

            Hard to believe Paramount came out and say that, 5 days after release, doesn’t sound like a smart move.

            Even the creator said that Major had a Caucasian body, and a Asian brain. There are multiple characters in the anime that clearly look to be Caucasian. If the creator was fine with SJ being Major, everyone else should have just shut up. Why do people have to make everything about race.

            I think most any anime to live action would have failed in America. SJ was the only reason this movie got any attention at all.

  • mitotsu

    Bae Doona and Ming Na Wen gets my vote!

  • UkiyaSeed

    Rinko Kikuchi and Rila Fukushima are great choices. The rest, yeah, good choices, but you’ll end up offending the Japanese. Plus, Motoko’s a cyborg. Her looks don’t matter at all because the body she is using is just a “shell” of her soul or should I say, “ghost”.

  • 業凱羅

    Maggie Q!!!

  • shooter_mcgavin

    Jamie Chung doesn’t look Japanese

  • iCeQubeTomato

    Apart from Bae, none of them can act.

  • Steven Guy

    Only two of them are Japanese. Maggie Q is good in action roles, but she’s not Japanese. Casting Japanese in Japanese roles IS important to Japanese people, that’s why Memoirs of a Geisha tanked in Japan.

  • Steven Guy

    Meisa Kuroki would be great.

  • Ryu B

    Bah. Nope. I’m okay with JChung and MaggieQ, they’re not Japanese though. The rest are also no-go. Better J-Actresses that would fit if only they did action :

    Satomi Ishihara (not sure if SNK counts)

    Ai Hashimoto (looks and everything, not sure if she can pull off action)

    Yukie Nakama (just BAM, I have no idea why I’d cast horror girl as motoko)

    Ko Shibasaki (has done Hollywood, kinda)

    Kiko Mizuhara (perfect height, not sure about acting but could work just as well)

    —————————-
    Also other non-J that would be awesome as Motoko:

    CLAUDIA KIM (How could you not cast her? She can move, like seriously, watch Marco Polo for proof)
    Jun Ji Hyun (She did great in that movie Blood something)

    —————————-

    You can’t tell people that the looks won’t matter on the cybernetic body! If its artificial, people would obviously make it in a way that suits the taste of the majority (easier in manufacturing, anyways). It might not be the intention of the manufacturer to make pretty robot parts, but its harder to make one that looks as flawed as an actual human than making one that looks sculpted (inside their universe, it should be much more economically efficient to sculpt Flesh Dolls compared to human replicas) So in our universe, it would make sense to cast someone that looks closest to a doll or a reconstructed person, at least.

  • Ryu B

    Bah. Nope. I’m okay with JChung and MaggieQ, they’re not Japanese though. The rest are also no-go. Better J-Actresses that would fit if only they did action :

    Satomi Ishihara (not sure if SNK counts)

    Ai Hashimoto (looks and everything, not sure if she can pull off action)

    Yukie Nakama (just BAM, I have no idea why I’d cast horror girl as motoko)

    Ko Shibasaki (has done Hollywood, kinda)

    Kiko Mizuhara (perfect height, not sure about acting but could work just as well)

    Meisa Kuroki (from CrowZero, not sure if she does action but she did Lupin, so…)

    —————————-

    Also other non-J that would be awesome as Motoko:

    CLAUDIA KIM (How could you not cast her? She can move, like seriously, watch Marco Polo for proof)

    Jun Ji Hyun (She did great in that movie Blood something)

    —————————-

    You can’t tell people that the looks won’t matter on the cybernetic body! If its artificial, people would obviously make it in a way that suits the taste of the majority (easier in manufacturing, anyways). It might not be the intention of the manufacturer to make pretty robot parts, but its harder to make one that looks as flawed as an actual human than making one that looks sculpted (inside their universe, it should be much more economically efficient to sculpt Flesh Dolls compared to human replicas) So in our universe, it would make sense to cast someone that looks closest to a doll or a reconstructed person, at least.

  • Mijie Redz

    Maria ozawaaa

  • Not only does Major not LOOK Japanese, in any way, but her CYBORG body was meant to be Caucasian, on purpose no less! If you’ve watched ANY of the GitS movie, manga, anime or OVA that would be apparent… The creator of GitS agreed with ScarJo, Japanese were interviewed and agreed with the choice of SJ, and if you pulled some barely known Japanese actress people who are not fans, who have no clue was GitS is, wouldn’t even bother to watch it. It’d bomb and they’d drop it like a hot potato. Please stop with the angry SJW nonsense. Go read the damn manga and step away from the computer…

    • Richard Fitzwell

      Agreed.

  • Richard Tucker

    Maggie Q is THE ONLY OPTION within your list that makes any sense AAANNNNDDDD that’s based off looks alone. I agree, she would have been great as Major. However, she’s half-Vietnamese…and American. Though “Asian” in descent, your whole BS argument that casting should have been more culturally significant is pure hogwash since Maggie Q isn’t even Japanese. By your argument alone, any “Asian-looking” person should have been casted over Scarjo.

    Now, I admit Scarjo was a horrid pick – and blatantly selected purely for marketing purposes – but in defense of GITS and any future casting reboots, Kusanagi was designed by Shirow to be a mass production model of Caucasian origin (as a cloned secret police officer, they wanted her to appear socially inconspicuous)- which, is why Motoko’s appearance is (forgive me) less Asian than her counterparts in both the manga prints and movies.

    To put it simply, GITS is Japanese, but Major is modeled to be more white than asian in the GITS series because it just makes more sense. Factoring in Motoko’s origin story in second season (and the fact that she was voiced by a white woman) casting Scarjo was TECHNICALLY more on-point than casting someone like Maggie Q.

    Yes, the series is Japanese in origin, set in a futuristic Japanese city, sprinkled with Eastern philosophy, and created by a brilliant man who happens to be Japanese – all this BS that spurred up about whitewashing is ridiculous. Motoko is white. To cast her otherwise just b/c the storyline originates from Japan is pure crap. Whitewashing is a problem…I completely agree. But in this movie, the so-called white-washing was actually a legitimate casting call. People hop on self-righteous bandwagon too much these days.