Ghost In The Shell (1995) – Mamoru Oshii

 

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies brings us another anime classic, based on the manga of the same name, this one dealing with the idea of what it means to be living and how we define life.

Set in the oh-so-distant year 2029, corporations and city-states have taken over the world, nations have collapsed, and the world-wide web and technology is more ingrained into who we are even more than today. So much so that there are people out there with cyber-implants, and even cyborgs, made human because of their ghost, or soul, within them.

In a cyber-crime investigation unit known as Section 9, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka) and her partner Batou (Akio Otsuka) are trying to track down a criminal known only as The Puppet Master who is hacking people’s cyber shells and then using them to commit his crimes.

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But there is something else going on here, as other agencies are trying to track down this criminal as well.

We learn that there was a secret project 2501 which existed before the Puppet Master and may be responsible for his creation…

An artificial intelligence that became self-aware and is now trying to reach the Major so that they can both take an evolutionary step forward and prove that the Puppet Master is truly alive.

The story is fairly epic in scope, but embraces smaller moments, the Major, despite being mainly robotic, enjoys scuba diving, and finds peace, solitude and hope in her quiet hobby. Action sequences that would be long and drawn out in a feature film, or even other anime films, are dispensed with quickly to move the story along.

A story that twists and weaves, sweeping through diplomatic cores, politics, and the essence of humanity.

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The attention to detail, not only on the characters, but on the sign-covered city-scapes is impressive, the attention to dialogue and character development is higher than you find in some live-action films.

Then there’s the themes of the definitions of life and soul. Heady themes, when examined, or you can just sit back and watch a stunning piece of art brought to life on your screen.

I have times when I just can’t get enough of anime, and other times when I can’t get into them, this one, could well fire up my love for it again, and cause me to dive into Netflix, and search out some entertaining series, or two or three.

It’s easy to see why this one and Akira are touchstones for anime, pointing to the incredible work that can be done, the level of stories that can be told, and the beautiful art that brings them to life.

Have you seen it? What are some of your fave animes? What ones do you recommend most?

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