In the year 2029, advances in Cybernetics allow people to replace nearly all of their body parts and organs with robotics. Through these prosthetics, the weak are made strong, and the dying are given new life. Public Security Section 9 of Niihama City (a fictional setting inspired by Hong Kong), a diverse team of AI, cyborgs and unmodified humans, must investigate cases of corruption and terrorism. Major Motoko Kusanagi has full-body prosthetics, owing to a childhood accident. She, her second in command Batou and information specialist Ishikawa have been assigned an important task: to investigate a hacker known only as "The Puppetmaster." But as Motoko and her team discover, things are never so simple.
Ghost in the Shell is a futuristic thriller with intense action scenes mixed with slower artistic sequences and many philosophical questions about one's soul, gender and human identity in such an advanced age of technology.
Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell was the first film to adapt Masumane Shirow's manga of the same name. It heavily condenses the original storyline, reducing the original material's comic relief and sexual content in favor of a more serious tone and changing the setting from Japan to a city modelled after Hong Kong. The artwork within the animated film was produced using an innovative mix of cel animation and digital effects. Ghost in the Shell is one of the world's most famous Japanese animated films, being the first to reach #1 on Billboard magazine's video best-seller list, and also served as a major inspiration for the Wachowskis in their creation of the Matrix movies. A special edition titled Ghost in the Shell: 2.0 was released in 2008, which features scenes reanimated with additional CGI to match the style of the 2004's sequel, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence.
I just want to start off by saying that "Ghost In The Shell" loves to asks it's audience questions. What is it that makes us human? Is it the soul (refered to as 'ghosts' in this film)? Or is it flesh and bone? What happens when your memories can be erased and replaced like music on your iPod? If your body is entirely mechanical, can you still call yourself human? If your consciousness is active, yet your body is nowhere to be found, do you still exist?
Okay, I'm giving myself a headache. Let's get to the review.
Cyborg cops battle an anonymous super-hacker who takes control of people's computerized brains and forces them to do his bidding. It's a wicked sci-fi thriller, yet it's also so much more. Not only is it a refreshingly original take on the standard Cops vs Criminals plot, but it manages to do it in such an intelligent manner. At it's core, the movie asks the audience "What is it that makes us Human?" Although it never truly finds an answer (can anyone?), it gets closer to it than any other film has yet dared to go. The best part is, with all the philosphical, existentialist and technical chatter, it never really tries to beat the audience over the head with it. Many of the "big questions" are handled in subtle ways that keep the pace of the film going, while still making the audience think. "Ghost In The Shell" is cyberpunk at it's best.
GitS came out in 1995 and still the visuals can compete with current animation standards. This film has aged extremely well. The action is wicked, every scene is full of atmosphere thanks to well detailed backgrounds, and the limited CGI is well integrated, even in such an early stage of CG animation. Yet the most astonishing part of the art is not the quality of the animation, or the artwork. It's the level of thought and polish that went into creating the look and feel of this film. As an exemple: There is a scene where the heroine, Motoko, is fighting a criminal while wearing a suit that makes her invisible. Even though she is invisble, we can still see her shadow. This is because her invisbility is only an optical illusion. There is still a solid mass blocking the light. It's little details like this one that make the visuals so incredible and, more importantly, believable.
The sounds of the film remain on the same high level as the art. Gunfire, ricochets, explosions, and even all the little computer noises are crisp and well implemented. The music is also quite fitting and original ('Making of a Cyborg', played during the opening credits, is one example). My only gripe is the voice actors are not at their best in this film (of course I mean the english cast). I greatly dislike Motoko's voice (Mimi Woods) and would much prefer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who voiced her in pretty much every other GitS project. The rest of the cast is the same as it is in current GitS projects, but you can tell they weren't as skilled as they are today. Still, they are quite good and it by no means ruins the film.
Though all the characters had aspects that made them interesting, Motoko is really the star of the show here and is the only character who developped over the course of the film. Of course, the direction in which her character went more than makes up for this fact. Throughout the whole film she is struggling with the thought of losing her humanity due to being a cyborg, and it all leads up to an incredible finale that just leaves you in awe.
Now, I'm giving it a 10 for enjoyment, but with an asterix. I personally loved this movie to death due to just how intelligent it is. Unfortunately, it is not an easy film to get into. Very little time is taken to explain how the GitS universe works. For example: The opening scene has Motoko speaking telepathically with Batou, who's nowhere to be scene. The film never really takes the time to explain how this is done, but you do manage to draw your own conclusions once you get your first glimpse of a cyberbrain. Unfortunately, much of the film relies on just how quickly the audience can put together the little details of the world and storyline. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can make things needlessly complicated and actually alienate viewers who may not have the patience to put together the pieces of this techno-puzzle. Luckily, the principle story is simple enough, and the action is good enough so that viewers can still have fun with it. Basically, it can leave you feeling pretty stupid, but you still pat yourself on the back for seeing it through to the end. And don't be surprised if you want to watch it a second time.
With great action and an intelligent narative, "Ghost In The Shell" is a classic. It inspired "The Matrix", and anyone who has seen that film will know how great of a compliment that is. If you're into philosophical discussions about the soul and the consequences of technological evolution, see this film. If you just want to see a bunch of cyborg cops shooting stuff up, see this film. You will not be disapointed.read more
I didnt read any manga or anything about the Ghost in the Shell world prior to watching, so that may have influenced my enjoyment. Im aware of the fact that this is an intellectual and philosophical movie, and not one that focuses on bombastic explosions and violence.
However this movie did not provoke thinking or cause me to question my existence or my self worth as a human being, it just wasnt complex or deep enough to change my views on humanity, and instead the topics it brought up seemed obvious to me. It shouldnt be too hard to understand that our "humanity" is made up of nothing more than complex programming. Our precious thoughts, experiences, emotions, relationships are all composed of nothing but numbers. Our technology just hasnt evolved to the point that we can start harnessing things like our memories and our own genetic code or successfully synthesizing a sentient living creature out of scratch.
What truly scares me, would be if humans will be responsible enough to guide us on the correct path of evolution once we become powerful enough to control it ourselves. Will society be destroyed by the folly of man when we obtain the power of "god"? Or will we evolve into a more advanced species? Will humanity be willing to throw away the primitive identity of what makes us human for the sake of transcending into a higher organism? How will society compete in a world where cybernetic parts are far superior to the organic ones we are born with? How can we trust anyone or anything, how would we know what is real and what is not once our memories and senses can be completely replaced?
This movie sort of touches a serious topic, when hackers steal the memories of others for personal gain. But besides this the movie doesnt touch any remotely serious topic at all, and focuses more on a rather pointless existential crisis sort of thing. Because the movie ignored addressing actually important and very real issues future technology will impose on humanity, the movie simply fell flat to me. The setting was immersive and well made, and the story had potential to go a different and much more interesting route. But instead, I only experienced a lackluster, philosophically pretentious story.
The setting and atmosphere of the world, as well as the artwork of the city were very beautiful and interesting. The music was very fitting as well. But besides that I did not find anything I enjoyed.read more
Ah...Ghost In The Shell. I'm writing this JUST after finishing it. If you watched the original Matrix and went "Holy Jesus this is the most amazing movie i've ever seen IN MY LIFE" then Ghost in the Shell will dropkick you in the face. Seriously.
Story: This is the kind of stuff that university essay could be written about. I'm going to have to watch this again just to completely understand everything about this movie. Now, just so you understand, the storyline isn't amazing. But the science and the mythology this anime is based on is so incredible. I believe, according to a few sources, that if you took all the footnotes in the manga they total to over 30 pages. Or was it 200? The point is that the science that's used in this movie is absolutely amazing.
Art: The art is old. The art is...Akira old. It's very old, but the details that are in it are incredibly amazing. The art is old but it doesn't seem stale. It's that good kind of old....classic. They used some really cool effects in here...especially when some people turned invisible. Oh..major plot hole if anyone notices...there's a guy who turns invisible...with all of his clothes on. Whereas the girl....needs to strip naked...which she does QUITE often. The nudity in this is tastefully done...it's not like Elfen Lied (no offense) where Nyu shows her boobs every couple of scenes.
Character: There is major character development for two characters. Batou and the Major. No one else really gets developed too much. Sometimes they'd show you a character who did one thing and then you'd never see them again ever. I'm not complaining too much, it never bugged me at all. But you do get a real sense of humanity from these characters...that's a funny thing to say though, if you watch the anime you'll figure out why.
Enjoyment: I guarantee that almost anyone who enjoys anime will also enjoy this. Anyone who liked the Matrix will enjoy this. It's an incredibly amazing anime, it's deep, it's slightly frightening. The single thing that this anime does not have is comic relief...never once did I laugh. Never once did I actually want to laugh. This movie is so serious that if any attempt was made at making it slightly funny the attempt would surely fail.
Seriously, go...watch this anime right now, and I promise...that you will not be disappointed.read more
Puppet Master: ‘’And can you offer me proof of your existence? How can you, when neither modern science nor philosophy can explain what life is?’’
The story and themes present in Ghost in the Shell (GitS) are both striking and very relevant. GitS takes place in a more than possible future world where cybernetics and AI have become a social norm. The amazing detail given to the universe and the true to life reflection of today’s society makes the themes in question incredibly applicable. The different opinions in GitS are argued with a certain potency and precision. The maturity and skill of the characters in putting across their arguments will encourage the viewer to contemplate these ‘philosophical’ issues from a very serious stance.
The ‘main’ story (when I say main, it is really just an excuse to bring up these themes, which are the focus) isn’t so revolutionary in terms of originality but is definitely very intelligent. A mysterious master hacker, known as the puppet master has been causing some negative repercussions in the political world of GitS. Section 9 has thus been asked to investigate. This can be seen as nothing more than the story of an extended and very standard TV episode. And to an extent, you can’t argue with that. But rather than witnessing the usual, ‘’-enemy is introduced, -enemy makes their move, [*good guys then find a way to defeat this enemy*], -enemy apprehended’’ sort of arc, the story unfolds in a very intelligent manner. The movie uses this particular case to initially explore interesting notions in the GitS universe, such as social inequality, the soul or ‘ghost’ of a robot and corrupt politicians. The story’s themes will then take over and the resulting dialogue leads to some very interesting ideas. Overall, it is a very smart and engaging version of what would’ve otherwise had been a standard plot.
The only ‘flaw’ in the story of the movie is that it assumes you to have at least a basic knowledge of the GitS universe. Whilst there isn’t anything vital you need to know, the huge amount of detail and history can be too much to take in at times. If anything, (if you are a fan of cyberpunk/ sci-fi) this should just inspire you to learn more about the complex universe. Do not worry about being new to the universe; just have your thinking cap on.
Sound/ art- 10/10
The art and soundtrack in GitS are ground-breaking. A new method of animation at the time used for the film was basically designed to create a sense of depth in the different levels of animation. This resulted in some amazingly detailed backgrounds and city views. Beauty is in the detail, and with so much detail, you are really able to become fully immersed into the universe before you. The art style is basically a timeless example of how to animate a mature and intelligent film like GitS. For example, the opening credits was just converted computer code used in a creative way. It was lovely to see this clear, harmonious language between the universe and the media used to portray it. The art and soundtrack was so inspiring, that in the film are a series of scenes that are entirely composed of visuals of the city backed by a brilliant OST. I couldn’t help but smile in awe at the level of detail and beauty.
This is an unfair section to mark a single film on, when in reality GitS just follows on from two whole series of character development. In reality, you can watch the film without watching the TV series’. This is sadly due to the fact that you never really see the characters personalities in the film. They just operate as speakers for the themes in the film. Despite this, the cast are able to deliver these arguments with great effect because of their own maturity and strength of character.
Ghost in the Shell is an all-time classic. As mentioned, I absolutely love the detail in the universe. I want to become immersed, and I can very easily become immersed thanks to the soundtrack and artwork. You cannot help but admire what you are watching. In terms of action, GitS certainly knows how to deliver. Although not an action led film, the two action scenes actually featured are nothing short of masterpieces. There was a mixture of technology, well-choreographed combat and intense build ups. All backed up by a great atmosphere. Having all of this done in such a mature style enabled me to take everything that much more seriously which made the arguments far more engaging.
Although released in 1995, the ideas presented in GitS are becoming more and more pertinent. The ground breaking media and level of detail in GitS has and will continue to inspire many films for years to come. I thoroughly recommend you to watch this film and I encourage you to look into the other GitS films and TV series’ that are equally as stunning. read more
Whether you prefer one or the other, there's notable differences between what's popular in American animation versus Japanese animation. What caused the art of animation to evolve so differently in these two countries, and how have the different approaches been coming together in recent years?