While it didn’t quite impact on mainstream audiences in the way that was hoped, Ghost In The Shell still managed to grow a loyal following among critics and fans of anime who enjoyed seeing the medium used for such a fantastic mix of thoughtfulness, action and visual beauty. It’s also one to check out if you’re interested in seeing where many of the ideas for The Matrix came from. I say that as a pointer for people who want to explore other movies and not as a complaint about the modern action classic from the Wachowskis. Personally, I believe that sci-fi is a genre that sees a lot of crossover of ideas and thematic explorations when creative minds come up with possible alternate futures and worlds to thrust human beings into.
The very bare bones of the plot focuses on the attempt made by cyborg cop Major Motoko Kusunagi (Atsuko Tanaka) and her colleagues to capture a dangerous hacker known as The Puppet Master. The master criminal has gained his name, unsurprisingly, by being able to access the minds of others and to make them do his bidding. As the authorities look to close in on The Puppet Master it starts to become apparent that being caught by Motoko may be part of his plan.
Ghost In The Shell looks at something that has been popular in the sci-fi genre for a long, long time now: the rise in the sophistication of artificial intelligence and the potential for self-awareness and self-development. But there’s also quite a bit more to it than that. Like any political action thriller, Ghost In The Shell has mistrust and paranoia in the mix. It never lets the pace flag but offers plenty to think about in between each fantastic action sequence, whether it’s the value of friends who will always have your back or a deep think about how much of your identity can be retained while so much of your body is mechanised. The fact that the animation and detail of each scene is also absolutely wonderful is the icing on the cake.
The voice acting all seemed just fine in my book, the writing and direction succeeds in the way that the best sci-fi work always does – conveying great ideas and items of consideration while not letting the audience get completely lost or simply bored by the wealth of information provided to maximise the potential of the story.
Fans will be pleased to know that the film was followed by a number of anime shows, a TV movie following those shows and also a direct movie sequel to this story that focused on a different character (Batou). As well as the original manga comics, of course, there is plenty available for pleased viewers to get their hands on.
DIRECTOR: MAMORU OSHII
WRITER: KAZUNORI ITO (BASED ON THE WORK OF MASAMUNE SHIROW)
STARS: ATSUKO TANAKA, AKIO OHTSUKA, TAMIO OKI, KOICHI YAMADERA
RUNTIME: 83 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: JAPAN, USA