GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995)

Ghost in the Shell is the first film of this franchise and is based on the acclaimed manga by Shirow Masamune. As I watched this film over and over again, I dived into a magical world of science fiction that is just as cerebral as it is psychedelic. When I watched this film for the first time, I was bewildered by it and honestly speaking, I didn’t understand a lot of it. I watched it over and over again until I got a grasp of things and the picture that came out of the multiple views was worth every view that this film got and will get in the future.

The story follows a special task force called Section 9 which is entrusted with the task of catching a hacker known only as the “Puppet Master”. Leading the task force is a cybernetic soldier known as Major Motoko Kusanagi (voiced by Atsuko Tanaka) and she is partnered by Batao (voiced by Akio Ôtsuka) who evidently has feelings for her even though she is only a cybernetic organism. As they dwell deeper and deeper into the search, they realize that there might be more afoot than just the search for a hacker. By the time, they reach the hacker; they discover a thing or two about themselves as well.

I have seen many Studio Ghibli animes over the year and they varied in their treatment of matters mostly related to fantasies. However, Ghost in the Shell is pure science fiction. The film takes a realistic and spellbinding take on life that has gone ahead and not only created artificial life forms that are equipped with artificial intelligence but are also constantly upgrading their own selves using technology. The film works like a science fiction detective story that unfolds layer after layer. In its runtime of just over 80 minutes, it packs in so much material that you will be gasping for breath.

The film starts off with the assassination of a minister who was trying to defect a hacker who presumably had classified data. The Minister had an aid whose mind was already hacked and was being used to again (presumably!) hack into the ministry. Her mind was being hacked using two decoys whose memories were partially erased and imprinted with dummy thoughts that were then used as triggers to make them do certain things that they wouldn’t under normal circumstances. Section 6, another defense organization, also has stakes in the search that Section 9 is undertaking and towards the end proves to be a critical party to the whole affair.

Ghost in the Shell is a picture of brilliance in whatever perspective you judge this film. Let’s start off with the animation. The film has some of the most haunting imagery that I have seen in an animated film. The highly detailed drawings filled with vibrant colors are not the only thing of artistic beauty but will go down a long way into having a psychedelic effect on you. The character designs and the manner in which expressions are incorporated in the characters are brilliant. There are long pauses between dialogs where the camera lingers on the face of the characters or some of their gestures which convey a gamut of expressions. It’s almost like watching a live action film.

The screenplay is terrific. Kazunori Itô packs a lot of meat in the brief runtime and never for once gets preachy. What I mean by that is that there isn’t a single exposition heavy sequence. You will practically have to figure out things yourself. They seldom simplify matters or use terms and line of dialogs that are easier to understand. The screenplay works in a way as if the audience does not exist and that the characters were real, in real situations and just conversing with each other with an idea that they already knew what they were talking about. This factor, while a deterrent for many, will find takers among viewers like me who enjoy finding things themselves.

The music and the background score are haunting. Even to this day, it holds up pretty well. The sound is never overused and neither is it underused. Hearing the soundtrack in the initial cast and credit sequence sends a shiver down my spine. The voice talents are all terrific. I was particularly impressed by Atsuko Tanaka and Akio Ôtsuka who have the most dialogs between them. The believability that they bring to their characters was what captured my imagination. Overall, Ghost in the Shell is one of the most brilliant japanimation films to have ever come out. If you are a fan of the genre then this is a must watch for you. Even if you are not into science fiction but like animated films, this film will merit a few views atleast. If you are not into animation or science fiction, this film will still merit a view sheerly because of its brilliance. It is one of the near perfect animated films of our times. A must watch.

Rating : 5/5 (5 out of 5 Stars)

3 Comments Add yours

  1. atthematinee says:

    Really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this. Have you shared your writing on any film sites before?

    Samuel

  2. not yet…
    Writing is my hobby…and I have mostly written for my own blog…thanks for the appreciation…

  3. atthematinee says:

    Always a pleasure! If you’re ever looking for somewhere to share your writing, let me know! Would love to help get some of your stuff onto Moviepilot 🙂 Samuel.harries@moviepilot.com

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