I’ve taken a couple weeks off of writing here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t still been watching movies. A few weeks ago, I saw, surprisingly for the the first time fully, the original 1995 Japanese animated film, ‘Ghost in the Shell’.
Based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ takes place in 2029 in the fictional ‘New Port City’ in Japan and follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, assault team leader of Public Security Section 9, and her efforts to track down the elusive criminal ‘The Puppet Master’, someone who is able to alter and control the memories and consciousness of people with cybernetic enhancements
First up, this movie is really good, like, really good. If you are a fan of anime, general animation, or film in any capacity I think you should see this movie. It isn’t perfect, no, not by any stretch, but it is really good.
‘Ghost in the Shell’ likes to think itselfa very intelligent movie, which it is, but some of it’s more thought provoking themes like identity and humanity, aspects that give the film more substance to me, could easily confuse, alienate, or worst of all, bore, some viewers and leave this film a bad experience in their minds. Other than this little issue with wider audience appeal, I don’t think I can come up with many, if any, real criticisms of ‘Ghost in the Shell’.
This film has a lot of memorable moments, which is why I think it’s had so much staying power in popular culture over the years.
Scenes like the iconic opening where the Major jumps from a tall building, naked, and she turns invisible and shoots a bunch of people, or the fight in the
big puddle water a bit later on, where the Major is again, naked and invisible. Scenes like these as well as some of the more thought provoking moments, like the diving scene or even the moments leading up to and including the film’s ending is what would keep people coming back. I don’t think it’s possible to get everything on the first watch, I think each time you watch this film there’s something new that you didn’t notice the first time through, some small detail, or the way you understand a piece of dialogue.
Another aspect of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ that has led to its cultural significance is its setting. ‘Ghost in the Shell’s cyberpunk setting is unique and was the inspiration for a number of other popular works in years to follow, namely ‘The Matrix’ series of films, the first of which was released in 1999, four years after ‘Ghost in the Shell’. The world the film presents to us is a dirty, yet beautiful city, tall skyscrapers contrasted with huts and stalls cobbled together with rotting wood and corrugated iron, highly advanced technology interwoven with a crowded public marketplace.
Another reason to return to the film is the animation itself. This movie is spectacularly animated, the amount of little detail put into a lot of the machinery or in the water effects. There’s a book, ‘Ghost in the Shell: Archives’, that you can buy, that includes a lot of concept art and key frame work from the film, and if you want to actually own a copy it will cost you maybe around $60, but I’ve also seen copies go for as much as $250. Just by looking at some of the gifs I placed here with the text you can see why a book like that would be so popular, so much effort has gone into making every scene, each background and character movement, into something memorable, that I could watch this movie 5 times over and not be tired of these visuals.
Of course, I’m going to tell you that if you haven’t seen this film already then you should, it’s available in a number of formats, including DVD and Blu-Ray and should be relatively cheap to come by. Here are two versions of the same trailer, one in Japanese and one in English.