To many anime (and non-anime fans) alike, Ghost in the Shell stands as a seminal piece of anime filmmaking that has influenced many anime and live-action films in recent times. When the Wachowskis pitched the idea for The Matrix to producer Joel Silver, they showed him Ghost in the Shell and said, “We want to do that in live action”.
Based on the popular manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell broke many barriers with its philosophical, psychological and existential themes of transhumanism and technological advancement, while also debunking the stereotype that anime cannot be seen more than just a children’s medium.
The film tells the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a female cyborg agent who works for Section 9, an intelligence agency which exists under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Section 9 are tasked to track down a notorious hacker named “The Puppet Master”, who is able to “ghost hack” into a cyborg without them even knowing.
The investigation leads Motoko to question herself and her identity and whether she can still be considered “human” despite her “ghost” living inside the body of a cyborg.
Apart from its subject matter, Ghost in the Shell is memorable for various other reasons. One of which is its haunting theme song that plays throughout the film.
The film’s famous opening credit sequence, especially, sets the tone and perfectly establishes the film’s subject matter by juxtaposing traditional Japanese folk music to images of Motoko being created.
One of my favourite moments in the film, where the theme returns, is during the interlude scene.
During this scene, we see various shots of New Port City presented to us on screen, helping us to familiarise ourselves with the world of the film. This gives the city a dystopian feel, making us question whether technological advancement will truly make our lives better or not.
Another thing that makes Ghost in the Shell memorable is its cinematography and action sequences. The film is visually stunning in of itself and fully takes advantage of its cinematic space through its interesting use of various shot sizes and camera angles.
The film is also not afraid to break conventional filmmaking rules, like the 180-degree rule of space. The action sequences are very stylised, but not over the top like in most action films. The action sequences do not deter from the subject matter of film, but are rather used to enhance and create more tension in the narrative.
A good example of this is near the end of the film, where Motoko fights a tank in an abandoned building. The tension in this sequence is created by the fact that Motoko is facing overwhelming odds and is willing to sacrifice her own body in order to destroy it.
Upon watching this for the first time, however, you will probably feel very overwhelmed and confused once the credits start to roll. This is a natural response to the film as you need to watch it multiple times in order to understand the complex themes present in its narrative.
However, do not let this deter you from watching this amazing film as you learn to appreciate it much more after every viewing. That is why I highly recommend that you watch this film if you enjoy being intellectually stimulated, are an avid Sci-Fi fan, or just curious about anime.
Do yourself a favour a watch this seminal piece of anime filmmaking instead of the 2017 live-action adaptation.
More about the Author: Dale is a South African Otaku and a man of very few words when you first meet him. He’s created a cool blog to express his interest in anime and geek culture with like-minded individuals as well as those who wish to become a part of this culture that he loves so dearly.
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