Scarlett Johansson in 'Ghost in the Shell': No Asian actors available?

Scarlett Johansson was cast to play Commander Motoko Kusanagi in 'Ghost in the Shell."  Fans on Twitter wonder why an Asian actor wasn't chosen for the part. 

(Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Scarlett Johansson attends the Champions of Rockaway Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser at Hudson Terrace on Nov. 18, 2014, in New York.

Media reports that Scarlett Johansson has officially signed on to star in Dreamwork’s live-action adaptation of the Japanese animated film "Ghost in the Shell" already has some fans upset that an Asian star wasn't cast in the role. 

Few would argue against Ms. Johansson as a powerful box office draw and veteran action hero.

 However, Shirow Masamune’s cyberpunk manga is another glaring example of an American star set to fill a quintessentially Asian role for what appear to be the sake of getting a studio green-light.

According to Variety, “Dreamworks head Steven Spielberg, said to be huge fan of the original film, is hoping that Johansson’s star power will help put those gears in motion.”

Ghost in the Shell could have been a great vehicle for any number of Asian celebrities.

On Twitter, fans of the manga were quick to react, offering a variety of alternatives – the fan frontrunner being Pacific Rim star, Rinko Kikuchi.

Ghost in the Shell was originally a Japanese manga, a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels aimed at adults as well as children. It was later adapted to anime or cartoon version of anime.

The storyline focuses on Section 9, a branch of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission which combats cybercrime and cyberterrorism under the command of purple-haired, bi-sexual cyborg Commander Motoko Kusanagi.

Section 9 is populated by crime fighters with cybernetic implants while Kusanagi has entirely replaced her human body with one that is fully artificial.

So, yes, fans of Johansson as "Lucy" and as Marvel Studio’s "Black Widow" can probably look forward to her in some epic cyber smack-downs in cyborg on-robot action scenes.

But hardcore fans of any print series are bound to complain that their beloved material has lost something in the translation. Understandably, since all too often Asian characters are edited out in an American adaptation.

For example, the first Chinese American movie star, Anna May Wong, was told that she wouldn't even be considered for the role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the 1935 adaptation of Pearl S. Buck's "The Good Earth." Instead, the role went to German actress Luise Rainer. 

More recently, when the book "Bringing Down the House" about was made into the film, "21," most of the Asian-American characters were played by American caucasians. 

In the case of "Ghost", perhaps Asian actors Ms. Kikuchi, Doona BaeMaggie QZiyi Zhang and Ming-Na Wen were all booked solid and unable to take the role?

Still, since the Johansson was reportedly second in line to the very Nordic-looking Australian actress Margot Robbie, it could appear to some fans that an Asian lead was never in the mind of "Snow White and the Huntsman" director Rupert Sanders, who has signed on to direct Ghost in the Shell.

[Editor's note: The original post incorrectly stated that "The Last Airbender" came from manga.]

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