Ghost in the Shell the Live: Our Fancasting

Ghost in the Shell theatrical poster, Production IG, 1995, Mamoru Oshii & Masamune Shirow

I hate the idea of a liveaction Ghost in the Shell! It has no business being live or using human actors; it’s about augmented bodies of the future. They don’t exist yet, so they can’t be filmed — and if they did the concept art would have to push things further. It’s science fiction.

Centre of my problem, obviously: the Major’s body is synthetically idealised. I don’t want that concept applied to human women.

But it looks like this film might be a project that’s happening. Worse, it’s happening in America. America — put that down. This thing is not yours.

Since it is happening, though, and since it seems a white woman has been cast as the Japanese-raised, Yamato born, Japanese-created Major… here’s a fan casting. Did you know that Japan actually has quite a lot of professional actors? Woah.

Let’s start with Her Major-sty. Wendy, your pick?

Kou ShibasakiWendy

Just saw 47 Ronin, so I will vote for Kou Shibasaki for the major.

But I will patiently wait for Hollywood to mess that up and give us a Chinese actress because lol who’s gonna know the difference amirite?


Anna Tsuchiya would be good as well (she played Ichigo Shirayuri in Kamikaze Girls/Shimotsuma StoryYankee Girl & Lolita Girl). Generally known for being a badass.

Pacific Rim - European Premiere - Red Carpet ArrivalsArdo

Oh Hollywood. You keep doing the whitewashing thing…

I’m going to go with my girl Rinko Kikuchi.


My picks are either Minami Tsukui — actress and suit actress (i.e. stunts), able to do intensity, silence and energetics, looks good with short hair — or Mikie Hara, whose turn in Cutie Honey the Live was basically spot-on Shirow-Major.




Tsuchiya Anna would be great! Kuroki Meisa might also be a good fit.

Mika NakashimaKelly G

Going for all-Japanese characters here, because I dislike the practice of inserting Caucasian actors into foreign stories unless the whole plot is transplanted to America.  Which would be inappropriate anyway; part of the sequences of the GiTS films focus on the beauty of Japan and Tokyo itself. The floating parades in the second animated film are a gorgeous intermission, a sort of thoughtful eye-candy with a clash of traditional and modern. 

Taking all of that out, moving to America, and inserting a cast that is not Japanese would take away from the story and culture that helps to support GiTS in the first place.  Might as well just do a reboot of Blade Runner.

Mika NakashimaProved she could handle tough-as-nails characters with NaNa.  Her voice is also a natural Alto (and she sings that way, too).

For Batou: Hiroyuki Sanada. Of Last Samaurai, Twilight Samurai and Ringyu fame. Handsome and rugged male lead for the Major.

Alternate Batou: Ken Wantanabe. Handsome, awesome actor, and he plays the sax so Batou would approve…

Triple HClaire

A+ point about the sax (and Sanada is So Good in Twilight Samurai), but I don’t know — it may depend on which version of the title we’re working from, but Batou has, at some point, held American citizenship. His ethnicity’s not a matter of public record. The members of Section 9 have served in wars the world over, and picked up connections with each other internationally; for me that’s one of the cool things about their little group. They’re Japanese, but not necessarily by default. So I don’t feel like I’m being untrue to the source material with my personal pick: WWE Superstar Triple H. He’s basically a tracing of Batou, as well as being somebody who came by at least some of his looks through use of steroids. Which is thematic, right? And wouldn’t you know, I just happened to have the above-left image lying around.

Section 9, Ghost in the Shell: Stand ALone Complex, 2nd Gig, Production IG, 2004

Takeshi MatsuyamaKelly

Saito: Takashi Matsuyama. He didn’t have many lines in the more famous Grudge film, but he did hold his own and almost stole the show at the end. I could see him filling Saito’s part pretty well.

Takeshi KaneshiroTogusa: Takeshi Kaneshiro. Old enough to play Togusa, but still has a youthful face. Great actor.

Takeshi KitanoDaisuke Aramaki: Takeshi Kitano. Seasoned actor who deserves more exposure. You will remember him as the coach from Battle Royale.

That’s all I got!


Kelly wins my heart with this list. Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada are my crushes (along with Carey Hiroyuki-Tagawa). And Mika looks amazing.

Kenji MatsudaClaire

Kenji Matsuda for Paz, y’all. It’d be a tragic waste of a full-speed actor, but casting anyone with less vim would just… like, why bother? An asshole like Paz should go hard or go home. Background acting, you know? (He’s older now but that’s the Paz-est picture google would give me)

Jun KanameI dig Kaneshiro for Togusa! But I’ll put forward Jun Kaname as a second option. He plays “straight-laced policeman out of his depth with augmented radicals” well in Kamen Rider Agito, where he also shows off some pretty terrible hair. Togusa in spades! And he’s thirty three by now. Everything falls into place.


I second Kou Shibasaki. No! I think I’m changing my vote to Rinko Kikuchi for the Major.

Is Hiroyuki Sanada too old to be Batou? If not then yesssssss. And omg Takeshi Kitano as Aramaki is brilliant!

Reader! Are we right? Hideously wrong? I know we missed Ishikawa and Boma, but come on! Lend a hand! Give us your picks!

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money

2 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell the Live: Our Fancasting

  1. I wonder, have these people read the manga at all? It’s made clear in the manga and the original movie that Motoko doesn’t necessarily look Asian, in fact, the body used by the puppet master is obviously caucasian, and it happens to be the same mass produced face/body model of Motoko (which, by the way, isn’t even her actual name, but a code name).

    1. “Doesn’t necessarily” =/= “definitely doesn’t,” chum. An adaptation of an adaptation (which chooses to set itself as an alternate version of said manga) is not required to give any shrift to hazy edge details of the original (linking us to panels from your source containing the alleged facts you rely on is helpful, when making flustered scolds like yours), and real living people are more than welcome to object to whitewashing and orientalist cabaret, as they have been since… probably long before Madam Butterfly was shamefacedly hidden from Asian residents of Britain. Certainly before Bruce Lee walked out of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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