Ghost in the Shell is a 1995 Animated work directed by Mamaroru Oshii. It's based on the comic of the same name created by Shirow Masamune. The movie follows the exploits of Public Security Section 9, a counter terrorist unit tasked with the capture of a mysterious super hacker.
The movie opens with a discussion between a programmer and some dignitaries. Section 6 interrupts the meeting so as too arrest the programmer. When it is discovered that he is seeking political asylum Major Motoko Kusanagi, aka The Major, interrupts the movie by jumping off a nearby building and shooting the dignitary while she is falling.
The next scene involves the Major meeting with the head of Public Security Section 9, Daisake Aramaki. Aramaki introduces the main plot of the film in this scene by informing the Major that an interpreter working for the Foreign Minister has had her brain hacked into and the chief suspect is the super hacker known as the Puppetmaster.
The investigation of the location of the Hacker discovers that the hacker is actually a garbageman. The garbageman is using the "ghost hack" to discover why his wife is divorcing him. Batou and Ishikawa are the first to discover this and inform the Major and Togusa, Togusa and the Major move to intercept the garbage truck at it's next stop. At the next stop a firefight ensues between the person leaving the hacking device at the terminals for the garbage man and the Major. He flees using Therm-optic camouflage but is ultimately tracked down and caught by the major and Batou. The garbageman and the provider of the ghost hacking software are revealed to have both been under ghost hacks themselves, they were both unsuspecting puppets to the real Puppetmaster.
That night at the factory of the cybernetics corperation Megatech, a female body is manufactured and escapes the facility. Sometime later it is run over by a truck. The remains of the body are sent to Section 9 so as to determine why it was created, in the process it is discovered that the body has nothing in it. No brain was placed in the body yet it moved on its own. Shortly, Section 6 arrives to claim the body. When prompted, the Head of Section 6 announces that the body was a trap, designed to capture the Puppetmaster. However, the Puppetmaster declares Political Asylum from Section 9.
Togusa, however learns something interesting. He realized that someone has entered the building using therm-optic camouflage. He informs the Major and they quickly deduce that Section 6 is planning something. Sure enough the intruders assault the lab and kidnap the Puppetmaster. Togusa plants a tracer round in their getaway car and Batou and the Major initiate a pursuit.
Ishikawa under orders from Aramaki looks into Project 2501. It turns out that Project 2501 was not supposed to capture the Puppetmaster as claimed, but was a tool by the Foreign Ministry to perform illegal actions. Project 2501 was implemented well before the Puppetmaster appeared and was kidnapped so its secret couldn't be leaked.
Soon the getaway car splits with a second car. Batou chases the first and after stopping it discovers it was not carrying the Puppetmaster. The Major follows the other car to an abandoned building. Inside she finds that it is being guarded by a think tank. After fighting with it, the major is heavily damaged. Before the tank can finish her, Batou arrives and disables it with "your standard issue big gun." The Puppetmaster survived the fight so the major "brain-dives" it to discover what it really is.
The Puppetmaster explains that it started out as the ai Project 2501. After spending time searching the net it became self-aware. He explains that it is his wish to merge himself and the Major's self together to form a new, unique consousness. While this is happening helicopters from Section 6 are on their way to eliminate the Puppetmaster and the Major. Batou sees the snipers IR dots but do to interference by the Puppetmaster is unable to do anything. The major expresses concern of the concept of merging but is ultimately convinced to the idea right before Section 6 elimninates the Puppetmaster's brain case. Batou manages to shield the Major's with his arm.
The major awakens inside Batou's safe house. She is in what appears to be a child sized prosthetic body. Batou explains what happened since the incident. The foreign minister resigned and the Major's new body is all Batou could find on short notice. The major leaves and explains that she is no longer Motoko Kusanagi nor is she the Puppetmaster. The last scene of the film is the new Major-2501 deciding what to do next.
The main reaccuring theme of Ghost in the Shell is what it means to be human. Within Ghost in the Shell the term Ghost refers to an individuals consciousness. An individual is considered human, no matter how cyberized if they have a ghost. However, the fact that it is possible to hack a persons ghost, implant virtual memories or force them to do what ever you want is causes multiple characters, specifically the Major, to question if their ghost really exists and if they are human.
As an extension of the main theme, the movie also tackles the idea of an artificial intelligence, in this case the Puppetmaster, gaining sentience and a ghost. this Provides an interesting dynamic between the Major and the Puppetmaster. A human doubting her humanity and an a.i. that is sure in his claim of humanity.
StyleEditGhost in the Shell makes use of a number of, in this case simulated, camera techniques. A good example of many of these techniques is the climax of the film when the Majro and Batou have recaptured the Puppetmaster and are talking with it. One technique used is false refresh lines, like that of a computer, to help show the user that the scene is a POV shot from a cyborg character. From the example, the film switches from an over the shoulder shot to a POV shot from Batou. This scene councidentally also makes use of an interesting little detail to create a deeper immersion in the world. In this scene snipers are training laser sights on the major. In the various shots around the scene the laser sights are invisible, however they are not in Batou's POV shots. Another technique present is the use of a fish eye lens. Whiel it's used to heighten the emotional distress of a minor character earlier, the climax uses a varient coupled with a low angle shot to represent the POV of the Puppetmaster's body.
As far as editing, the movie tends to use cuts to transition between scenes more so than other transitions. Long cuts are also predominant.
Dialogue is a rather interesting thing in the movie. On one hand a large part of the movie is silent such as the scene with the major traversing the city and, paradoxically, the car chase towards the end of the film between section 9 and the car supposedly carrying the Puppetmaster. However, much of the rest of the dialog is split between monologues from individual characters and dialogue, which can be called dueling monologues in some cases.
Cyberpunk or Post Cyberpunk? Edit
Ghost in the Shell tends to be cited as one of the defining entries in Post Cyberpunk, but is it really? Since the publication of the original comic in 1989, Ghost in the shell has been adapted many times. Besides the two sequel comics, there has been: 2 movies, two 26 episode animated televison shows and a final movie that ties in to the shows. Each adaption has elements of both Cyberpunk and Post Cyberpunk to varying degrees. The original comic leans more towards the traditional cyberpunk stage while the TV shows are firmly grounded in Post Cyberpunk with the movies falling slightly in between. A primary reason for this would be that each adaption was released at different times. The comic was released at the early onset of the Post cyberpunk movement and went on to help shape the movement while the first movie, the one discussed here, was released in 1995 during the Post Cyberpunk movement but still has more of a connection to traditional cyberpunk than the shows which came out in the 2000s.
External Links Edit
Ghost in the Shell at the Internet Movie Database.
Ghost in the Shell article at Wikipedia.