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The complicated history of racial representation in Japanese media




Scarlett Johansson has been cast as the character Major Motoko  Kusanagi
Scarlett Johansson has been cast as the character Major Motoko Kusanagi
Courtesy of Paramount

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A debate has broken out over Scarlett Johansson's casting in the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a key character in a live action adaptation of the popular anime series, Ghost in the Shell. 

Fans in the U.S. are upset that a white actress will play the role of character that many see as Japanese.

Problem is, the creators say that Kusanagi  was never meant to be Japanese so they don't understand what all the fuss is about.

For more on the complexities of race and representation in Japanese media, Take Two's A Martinez talks to Emily Yoshida,  entertainment editor for The Verge. 

Yoshida says that there many fans of Ghost in the Shell in Japan had no problem with Johansson's casting. In fact, they saw it as favorable since she better reflected the character's kewpie eyes.

In fact, those eyes are more indicative of a conscious effort on the part of Japanese artists and creators that goes all the way back to post-World War II, when the company was working harder to appeal to Western audiences.

Yoshida wil explain why it may not be easy for Japanese fans to recognize certain Hollywood casting decision and why it's can be hard to pinpoint the race of certain anime characters, especially Major Kusanagi.

To hear the whole interview, click on the player above