Ghost in the Shell: If Only All Cops Looked This Good
|"Ghost in the Shell" (1995).|
"Ghost in the Shell" has become a cottage industry, the gift that keeps on giving. It is considered an enduring classic in Japan, and also has many fans overseas. Masamune Shirow, the creator, has turned it into two theatrical anime movies, two anime television series, an anime television movie, an anime OVA series, a theatrical live-action movie, and several video games. And he's done that while creating unrelated artwork, too. Fans of "Ghost in the Shell" don't consider it just a single movie, but a continuing story, along the lines of, say, the Disney/Marvel "Avenger" films.
|"Arise" (2013) provides an interesting background to the story and introduced a new look.|
- Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence [Movie - 2004]
- Stand Alone Complex [TV Series 2002 – 2004]
- Solid State Society [TV Movie - 2006]
- Arise [TV Series - 2013]
- Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie [Movie - 2015]
- Alternative Architecture [TV Series - 2014]
|"Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie" (2015), which continued the sleek new style based on "Arise," was received well by fans of the franchise.|
Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), a female cyborg in charge of police unit Section 9's assault team, is hunting for a cyber-terrorist known as "The Puppet Master" (Iemasa Kayumi). They track down leads, but the criminal is very clever and deludes his victims into doing his bidding without their knowing it.
A female cyborg is created without authorization and escapes from the factory, only to be involved in a car accident. The cyborg seems to have a human presence. Further investigation is precluded by a surprise attack by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Section 6, led by Nakamura (Tessho Genda), which allows the cyborg to escape.
|That's a big gun!|
They track down the Puppet Master, and Kusanagi goes in to arrest him in an abandoned building. It turns out to be a trap, and only the timely arrival of her second-in-command Batou (Akio Ohtsuka) along with the rest of the team saves her from being destroyed by a spider tank. The body of the cyborg is there, and Kusanagi interfaces with it. The Puppet Master communicates through the cyborg and reveals that he indeed is part of Project 2501, a Section 6 program that communicates with ghosts. He wants to merge with Kusanagi in order to create a higher being, one in which he dies but carries on as a ghostly advisor with her in control of the physical body.
Section 6 appears again, determined to kill Kusanagi and everyone else with Batou. The Puppet Master merges with Kusanagi, but Section 6 manages to blow the heads of both cyborgs' bodies off, along with Batou's arm.
Major Kusanagi lives but now is in the cyborg body of a child because her own body was destroyed in the fight with Section 6. The affair has become public, causing problems in the government. The merger with The Puppet Master, though, is still in place, and Kusanagi will never be the same.
|The cool look that obviously also appears in "The Matrix."|
The art in this film is just right, with splendid colors and movement that is uncanny in its precision. If you think all anime is awkward stuff that you see on the Internet, this is much better. The pace is fast, squeezing a tremendous amount of complexity into 83 minutes. There is some fascinating dialog, with philosophy thrown around liberally and questions about the cycle of life. The bottom line is that this is a film for people that want to think about the nature of existence and what it means to be alive - and dead. The influence of computers is a central theme of this film, much like it was in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The English dub reputedly is not as good as the Japanese original, with some liberal alterations in dialog, but you take what you can get. The film also has considerable nudity and graphic violence, and one might as well assume that, despite the strong female lead, this is directed at a male audience. The subtitled version might be the best bet if you are patient and want to get the full impact, but if you are looking for some light entertainment, just get the English dub. There is a lot of music, but many action scenes are silent, which enhances their spookiness. The plot is very intricate can get a bit confusing, but the characters draw you back in. There is a deep philosophy to "Ghost in the Shell," asking questions about life and our purpose in being here, that might interest those not sold by the action and pretty girls.
You also may be interested in reading our review of the follow-up prequel series, "Ghost in the Shell: Arise."