Enlarge / Major in the American film and the Japanese anime. This analysis contains spoilers for the new Ghost in the Shell movie. Proceed with caution!

Over the weekend, I dragged my best friend–a biracial Japanese dude I’ve known for over a decade–to watch the new Ghost in the Shell movie. Like Ars Technica’s Sam Machkovech, we weren’t impressed.

To my surprise, though, I didn’t actually hate Scarlett Johansson’s role in the movie.
Her casting as the Major has been controversial, in part due to concerns about “whitewashing” (using white actors to play non-white characters). Yet Mamoru Oshii, director of the original 1995 anime, was unexpectedly supportive of the decision. Maybe that’s because Johansson doesn’t pretend to be Motoko Kusanagi, the boisterous lead character from the original. Johansson’s new character, Mira Killian, comes across as pure automaton, a blank slate devoid of emotional ties.
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