Ghost in the Shell is a 1995 era cyperpunk anime film that had an enormous influence on The Matrix, amongst other films. It was later spun off into a sequel and series of its own.
Heavily influenced by Neuromancer, Blade Runner and probably Ender's Game as well, GitS is set in a highly computerized future. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a female shaped cyborg and she has to get naked a whole lot (she's a barbie doll though, only boobs). She's employed by the government as an elite agent for such high level tasks as assassination and works with her cybernetically enhanced human partner, Bato.
Her ghost, what cyborgs refer to as their sense of self, operates her shell (the cyborg body), and she's particularly obsessed with her origins as well as her sense of identity. Following the opening assassination, we see how she was built, which makes an important point later on, as she is oddly trying to recreate that sensation of first awareness to try to determine who she is.
Most of the fil is on the trail of the puppetmaster, an elite hacker who has acted as both a terrorist and as a murderer. But he's all but a ghost in real life, working through proxies and virtually impossible to trace and track down. It's not until the puppetmaster chooses to reveal himself that the finale begins to unfold, and reversals begin to happen as those doing the hunting now find their hunt as much a rescue as anything. And it all winds up with an absolutely fascinating interplay between the Puppetmaster and the Major.
Full of fascinating ideas, but often the best ones are simply the visualizations of the future, a great deal of the film is taken up with introspection and dialogue heavy explanation and musings in order to address the philosophical underpinings of the piece. If you loved the end of Matrix reloaded and the scene with the architect, this film is for you. As for many of the other ideas, Matrix, I'm sad to say, actually synthesized them a bit better (not the sequels, which simply obfuscated things to a silly degree) if they don't delve quite as deeply into the concept emotionally. The puppetmaster in particular is interesting both as an analogue to Agent Smith as well as The Oracle and the Architect. hmm perhaps a revisit of Reloaded is needed in the near future.
This is available on netflix's watch instantly program, so anyone with a subscription can view it anytime they want.
next week: Blade Runner
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