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According to Indiewire, the director of "Ghost in the Shell", Rupert Sanders has opened up about the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming movie (which will adapt the 1995 Japanese animation movie into a live-action film), defending his decision of choosing her over an actress of Asian origins. The Hollywood production has been quite controversial even in its early stages, as many fans of the original Japanese manga have accused the producers of trying to “whitewash” the movie.

A beloved anime classic

"Ghost in the Shell" was originally a science fiction manga (Japanese comic book) series created by Masamune Shirow, telling the story of Motoko Kusanagi, a female human cyborg working for a counter-cyberterrorist organization in 21st century Japan.

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The manga series has proved to be popular both in Japan and overseas, where it enjoys a cult following, thanks also in part to the 1995 anime adaptation, "Ghost in the Shell."

"Ghost in the Shell" is considered to be one of the best science fiction anime Movies of all time. It’s philosophical themes, regarding the topic of self-identity in a technological world where the borders between biological and cybernetic are becoming more unclear each day, have been widely praised by fans and critics.

A controversial adaptation

Hollywood has tried for many years to bring "Ghost in the Shell" to a much more mainstream audience.

Paramount Pictures is handling the development of the film, which is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017. But even though the movie is still months away from its premiere, it has already garnered its fair share of controversies.

Most of these have to do with the fact that Scarlett Johansson will play the lead role in the movie, which many people said should have been offered to an Asian actress, given that it takes place in a futuristic Japan. In the Japanese manga and anime, the character is named Motoko Kusanagi, while in the film the character is only addressed by her rank, Major.

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This has caused a backlash, as some fans have accused Hollywood of trying to “whitewash” the character, thus denying an Asian actress a chance for a role, given that the movie is set in Japan.

However, in a recent interview, the director of the film, Rupert Sanders, has defended his decision of casting Johansson in the lead role. His motivation for this was that the actress, who’s career spans more than 20 years, has played edgy roles in her movies, which make her the perfect candidate for portraying the Major.

Sanders also said that she has a certain aesthetic that makes her ideal for cyberpunk roles. He ended by declaring that he stands by his decision, even if this will ultimately end up disappointing the purists.

While many fans in the West have expressed disdain over this adaptation, fans in Japan have reacted with surprise at the news of the controversy. Many of them didn’t see an issue in casting a Western actress to play the role of an originally Asian character, saying that Scarlett Johansson resembles Motoko Kusanagi, that she looks good in the role, and that the philosophical themes of the story are much more important than the ethnicity of the lead actress.

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Regardless of the casting controversy, it will be interesting to see how Paramount will handle the movie, as anime fans are usually skeptical when it comes to live-action adaptations of their favorite series.