Based on the hugely popular Japanese manga series created by Masamune Shirow, DreamWorks’ live-action feature Ghost in the Shell will follow the story of Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson), a cyborg belonging to an elite cybercrime-fighting task force known as Section 9, a team who are devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists. Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) will direct the feature from a script written by Jonathan Herman (Straight Outta Compton) and Jamie Moss (Street Kings).
Scarlett Johansson, who is headlining the film, is being joined by a cast that includes Beat Takeshi Kitano (Battle Royale) as Daisuke Aramaki and Kaori Momoi (Memoirs of a Geisha) – in a role that has yet to be disclosed – as well as Chin Han (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Danusia Samal (Tyrant), Lasarus Ratuere (Terra Nova), Yutaka Izumihara (The Wolverine) and Tuwanda Manyimo (The Rover) as members of Section 9. In addition, Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria) will be playing Dr. Ouelet, while Michael Pitt (Hannibal) has been cast as Kuze and Pilou Asbæk (Lucy) is portraying the character Batou.
Now THR has revealed that Rila Fukushima has joined the ever-growing cast in a currently unspecified role. The Tokyo-born actress is known for playing the female ninja Yukio in the 2013 superhero film The Wolverine, opposite Hugh Jackman and her Ghost in the Shell co-star Izumihara. Keeping within a similar genre, she also starred in the role of the samurai-wielding Katana on The CW’s Arrow. Her other TV show appearances include a recurring role in The Long Goodbye and a small part in an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones as a Red Priestess in Volantis.
The big screen adaptation of Ghost in the Shell has been surrounded by controversy, especially in relation to Johansson being cast in the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, which led some fans of the original Japanese franchise to accuse the production of “whitewashing.” The backlash only increased when it was reported that Paramount and DreamWorks had commissioned digital-effects tests to allegedly make the white actors' ethnicity appear “more Asian” in post-production.
Even though the film has cast a number of Asian actors, they have all been largely relegated to supporting roles so far, causing some fans to claim the casting choice as a symptom of a bigger issue within modern Hollywood cinema. However, a representative of the original manga publisher recently joined the debate, voting in favor of Johansson’s casting, considering the actress' impressive career so far. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, we can probably all agree that it would be a shame to see Fukushima’s talents go to waste, so let's hope she's landed a significant role.
Ghost in the Shell will open in U.S. theaters on March 31st, 2017.