Excavating Ghost in the Shell

Source: cyber-cinema.com

With the live action version of Ghost in the Shell (GITS) coming out in 10 days, my plan is to plow through every GITS movie and series before Thursday, March 30 and provide a succinct review on each. God help me and my social life.

First up, Ghost in the Shell.

The plot follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg agent of Section 9. She and her team are hunting a notorious hacker referred to as “The Puppet Master”. Kusanagi and her team soon unearth a government cover-up involving The Puppet Master.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t think the plot matters. I have no doubt it might matter as I move through future series and movies, but for now, the plot is nothing more than vessel for the ideas the movie is putting forth. The premise GITS ponders is nothing new—what it means to be alive. However, it is the way that idea is presented that makes GITS unique and memorable.

The Puppet Master, an AI, presents some very legitimate arguments that it is indeed human. Through numerous programs, it has achieved sentience, awareness of self, and original thought. While the Puppet Master fully admits it isn’t complete “because the basic life cycle process of reproducing and dying don’t exist in [its] system.” Despite that statement, the Puppet Master formulates a plan that would achieve those cycles, just not through typical means.

This whole exchange leads an interesting point. In GITS, anyone can have their brains hacked—where their thoughts, memories, and even what they see is controlled by an external party (be it machine or another person). In that case, is that individual any less of a robot than the Puppet Master?

It’s through these questions that the viewer is able to sympathize with these characters. You can understand their internal struggles and even the apathy that exists within them.

The animation is second to none. For being 22 years old, the animation holds up insanely well. It’s easy to see how transcendent this movie was for its time. The few CG effects aren’t spectacular, but are more a product of their time than shoddily made. It’s impossible not to see the beauty in this anime even as wires, blood, and ligaments are sent flying. There is a scene involving a tank lid that I will never forget.

I will absolutely see this movie again. Apart from the visuals, I feel like there’s so much more to uncover in this film. It’s absolutely one everyone should see.


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