Welcome to our 50th review! We are very excited to bring you today what is considered one of the best anime films of all times, and with good reason. So please do enjoy our review of Ghost in the Shell, and always beware of minor SPOILERS!
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: In the year 2029, advances in Cybernetics allow people to replace nearly all of their body parts and organs with robotics. Through these prosthetics, the weak are made strong, and the dying are given new life. Public Security Section 9 of Niihama City (a fictional setting inspired by Hong Kong), a diverse team of AI, cyborgs and unmodified humans, must investigate cases of corruption and terrorism. Major Motoko Kusanagi has full-body prosthetics, owing to a childhood accident. She, her second in command Batou and information specialist Ishikawa have been assigned an important task: to investigate a hacker known only as “The Puppetmaster.” But as Motoko and her team discover, things are never so simple. -MyAnimeList
Ghost in the Shell follows a rather standard science fiction story line, or I would say that if this was not one of the movie that paved the way for modern sci-fi movies, since it inspired movies such as the Matrix. The actual plot is pretty straight forward, and does an excellent job at introducing the world in which the story takes place, despite its obvious complexities. Maintaining a brisk pace throughout can make the movie seem rushed, but it does not leave anything out. There are also a shift in focus part way through the story, from being more action heavy to focusing more on dialogue, though this is brief in the grand scale of the movie. The only really flaw with the plot would be the anti-climatic ending. Avoiding spoilers, a large chunk of what happens after the climax is left out and merely recited to the viewer, making the falling action and resolution very quick, and almost unsatisfying.
The characters of Ghost in the Shell are the driving force of the entire movie, as it is primarily experienced from a limited third person point of view. The Major is obviously the protagonist, and the fantastic protagonist she is. The character is very strong, independent, but also clearly troubled by her past and who she is. The other characters fit into the movie well and all serve a vital role. The main issue is that the movie does not really slow down to expand on the characters, including the Major. While this definitely fits with the themes of the show, several characters seem to exist only as pawns (both figuratively and literally) to advance the plot, and not really being full fledged characters themselves.
Some might say the animation is a little bit dated, but it holds up pretty well. The animation was actually pretty innovated at the time, mixing both cel animation and digital effect. Either way, the animation is crisp and smooth, and by no mean difficult to follow.
The soundtrack is excellent for the movie, especially in creating the ominous atmosphere that hangs over the entire run time. It shines best during the moments without dialogue, elevating the events taking place. The soundtrack, however, is not always present, and can tend to be minimalistic at times.
Ghost in the Shell is so loaded with themes, it is almost overwhelming. It covers several of the classic themes present in any sci-fi story, such as the questions of ethics regarding technology and warnings against it. The movie then delves deeper by exploring what it means to be human in an age of the body not being entirely organic, as well as what it means to be alive in general. The anime even admits it a question not even science and philosophy have adequately answered. Ghost in the Shell still presents an answer, however, saying it means to evolve (reproduce with variation) and die. The show definitely takes a post-modernist stance, in which nothing can be truly be trusted. This is especially evident with the multiple examples of memories and programming being manipulated in humans and machines. The protagonist also allows for the exploration of themes regarding sexuality and gender. Overall, there is a depth of themes so much more than we can explore here.
Final Score: 9.4/10
Final Grade: A
Ghost in the Shell is a movie that I’ve wanted to see for a while now. I’ve heard so many amazing things about it, and it seemed right up my alley. Let me start by saying that this movie may have some of my favorite visuals of all time. It’s so stunning and well directed! You could say it’s “dated”, but it’s so beautifully and intentionally crafted that to me it transcends any attempt to write it off as dated. The soundtrack features an incredible main theme that really sticks with you after you watch the movie. The atmosphere, the love and care into every frame and scene, and the setting mixed in with the music all really elevate Ghost, creating a world so interesting that I want to immerse myself in it. The characters are all intriguing, and Major Kusanagi makes for a great protagonist. I feel that this movie has multiple layers of enjoyment to it. On a surface level, the aesthetics and atmosphere are incredible, and the action scenes (though they aren’t as frequent as I had expected) are incredibly well done. It makes the movie a great watch even just for that. Then there’s the many layers of analysis in the film. It’s a really dense movie. Some people may not like the many philosophical discussions in the film, but I found them quite interesting (though a lot to take in at first). The development of Major Kusanagi herself was especially thought provoking. The cyberpunk aspects were also very interesting. There were moments involving the androids that were pretty unsettling. The movie really dives into the idea of the uncanny valley to great effect. The main issue I have with the film is how fast things develop. Like I said, it’s very dense, and though the movie slows down for some amazing no dialogue scenes, it was still hard to follow at times. However, I have a feeling that as I watch and contemplate it more (and watch its sequel and other works in the universe), I will find more and more enjoyment and intrigue under its skin. Let’s just say I hear it in my ghost.
Final Comments: Ghost in the Shell is without a doubt a complex and intriguing classic with a plethora of themes that any anime or sci-fi can enjoy, with few flaws that are easily overlooked.
Thank you for joining us for 50th review! We really enjoy writing our reviews, and hope you will stick with us for the next 50 reviews! What are your thoughts of Ghost in the Shell? Be sure to check us out on Twitter and Facebook. Our next review will be a more modern sci-fi anime: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet! Hope you are looking forward to it!