GHOST IN THE SHELL (1996)

 

Format: 82-minute feature

 

Rating: R (N, AL, GV)

 

American Production: Manga Video

 

Japanese Production: Kodansha LTD/Bandai Visual

 

Grading

 

Premise:

A-

Story:

A-

Writing:

A

Character Design:

A-

Animation:

A-

Artistic Merits:

A

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

A-

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

A

Drama Content:

B+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B-

DVD Extras:

A-

 

 

OVERALL:

A-

 

Synopsis

In an Asian city of the not-too-distant future, officers of Section 9, a government agency assigned to cyber-crimes, find themselves investigating a renowned cyberterrorist known only as the Puppet Master, who can hack into the minds of enhanced humans and cyborgs and manipulate them from within. The case holds special meaning for cyborg agent Mokoto Kusanagi, who finds herself asking hard questions about the nature of life and of “ghosts” (a human’s consciousness) while battling foes intent on obscuring the origin of the Puppet Master and the truth behind him.

 

The Long View

Based on a popular manga by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell is a visionary work of animation on the level of Brazil or Blade Runner. It provides a view of a cyberpunk future in stunning detail; it is worth watching just to appreciate how much thought was put into the logical extrapolation of current technological trends. The world of Ghost assumes that technological enhancements to the human body have become commonplace, and lifelike cyborgs are very much a reality. This allows effects like using thermoptics to make a person or vehicle invisible, creating a typist with fingers that can expand and enter data at super-human speeds, or even communicating telepathically via wireless communication links built directly into a person’s head. These technical advances have forced a redefinition of what it means to be human, however, hence the term “ghost” being used for a person’s consciousness as a separate component from the mind itself.

Ghost has often been considered a standard-setter for artwork and animation, and indeed you will be hard-pressed to find a more vibrant cityscape anywhere else in animation. The animation still ranks among the best for anime, and those that favor beautifully-rendered action scenes will not be disappointed. Those who like nudity in their anime also will not be disappointed, although I would hardly call any of it fan service. Fair warning, though: the R rating is well-deserved based on its extreme graphic content alone. This is not a movie for anyone who can’t handle gore and bloodshed on the level of an explicit horror movie.

Another big factor in making Ghost such an extraordinary work is the intelligence of its writing. Amongst the action sequences is a mystery to be investigated, but the story also delves heavily into philosophy. Examining where the line between life and machine lies has been an integral part of science fiction for a long time now (and an underlying theme of the whole cyberpunk genre), but Ghost explores this theme more deeply than most. Whether or not a primarily or exclusively artificial entity can have a “ghost” is a driving question behind the series and the context underlying the meaning of the movie’s title. It is very much a thinking person’s piece of animation despite its graphic content. The one slight criticism that could be made it is that either the dialogue or the actors performing it could use a bit of improvement in places.

On any list of must-see movies for a newcomer to anime, you will find Ghost in the Shell. There’s a reason why it has received extensive critical acclaim and is already considered an anime classic. I highly recommend it.

 

DVD Extras

·  “Making of” featurette

·  Theatrical Trailer

·  Fan Club Trailer

·  Company Trailers (limited)

·  Polygram Video Sampler

·  Glossary (very detailed)

·  “Guide To Ghost in the Shell,” which includes character bios, writer and director intros, a detailed synopsis, commentary on issues raised by Ghost, and many other vignettes

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Mokoto Kusanagi (The Major)

Mimi Woods

Bateau

Richard George

Aramaki

William Frederick

Togusa

Christopher Joyce

Puppet Master

Abe Lasser

Ishikawa

Mike Sorich

Nakamura

Ben Isaacson

Willis

Phil Williams

hacked Garbage Collecter

Tom Carlton

 

 

 

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