STARRING: Atsuko Tanaka, Maaya Sakamoto, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi, Kōichi Yamadera, Tamio Ōki, Yutaka Nakano and Tesshō Genda
A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
The year is 2029. The world has become interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life. Much of humanity has access to this network through cybernetic bodies known as shells, which possess their consciousness and can give them superhuman abilities. Major Motoko Kusanagi, an assault-team leader for the public security Section 9, is assigned to capture a hacker known as the Puppet Master.
Before the release of Paramount’s take on the material starring Scarlett Johansson comes out next month, I’ve decided to watch the couple of anime films that are available starting, of course, with the ’95 original Ghost In The Shell. We’re taking into the future of 2029, in a city that is never revealed and with the state of the world that we’ve arrived in, all case of singular cultures and identities seem to have long since vanished. We follow Major Motoko Kusanagi, an assault-team leader for the public security Section 9, is assigned to capture a hacker known as the Puppet Master.
As an art form, Ghost In The Shell is tremendously beautiful to look at with the attention of detail gone into the designs of the city to the individuality of the characters themselves. The animation for the action/chase sequences are executed to great effect and the soundtrack for the film is very good indeed and the best showcase of the soundtrack comes with the montage of Kusanagi wandering the streets of the city and the score just helps heighten the animation designs on show. The entire feel of the film does feel like it’s a companion piece to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and while you can feel the influence for it here, you can see how this anime influenced many others watching it, such as the the Wachowskis for their Matrix films as an example.
The issue with Ghost In The Shell is that the dialogue is very moody as it questions the complexities of life and what it means to be human and even brings in a Corinthians quote for good measure and for some this may put them off investing in the film. For me personally, the arc created for the Major wasn’t developed enough to have be attached to invest in her character, questioning whether or not she’s still who she believes she is or if every artificial upgrade she’s received removes her humanity. While this development was intriguing to me, it becomes lost as the film focuses on hunting the Puppet Master and explaining who he is. I wish the film was slightly longer to have an extra scene or two to make me more invested in the Kusanagi character.
Ghost In The Shell is a beautiful anime with wonderful direction from Mamoru Oshii, it’s a complex and heavy film focusing on the complexities of man/machine and the humanity inbetween that can make riveting viewing for some and dull fodder for others. The voice talents, both original and dubbed, are solid in regards to their characters and while we follow Major Motoko Kusanagi, I couldn’t care enough to be invested in her journey. 7/10