Pros:Beautiful visuals, action, captivating music, character building, no cyborg sex.
Cons:Not long enough.
The Bottom Line: A great Anime movie.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Ever since I first saw this movie up in Humboldt I fell in love with this movie. This is currently my favorite anime movie. The main difference between anime and “normal” animation is the level of detail. Most Anime strive to recreate the world we live in, the physics that occur, and the people as real as possible. This makes a cartoon that seems real.
And just to warn ya, you start off the film with a Naked Anime Cyborg. It isn't sexual in nature but not appropriate for children. And it is a violent anime with heads getting blown off and lots of flying bullets.
This takes place in the Japan of the future. Technology is being infused to the human body to various degrees. At this point almost all people have some sort of computer installed in their brain stem to allow human to interact seamlessly with technology and the web. Other human are partial or complete cyborgs. The complete cyborgs generally work for the military or government since it is a very expensive process to undertake and expensive to maintain. Two of our main characters are complete cyborgs.
There are two stories in this movie and they intertwine flawlessly. The first story is about section 9 that is led by Major Motoko Kusanagi. Section 9 is a top-secret investigative unit for the Japanese government. They also have a lot of firepower and they do the “dirty work” for the government.
The other story line is the story of Major Kusanagi. She is trying to explore her own existence, even to the point of thinking she was never alive but is really a form of artificial intelligence. This part of the movie also explores “what is life?”. I feel this is the real story of the movie and the detective part just provides all of the action.
In this movie section 9 has been asked to investigate a series of hacks. Unlike todays world where a hacker would invade you PC, this hacker invades people’s minds. This does a number of things. The hacker could shut down a person’s mind, give them a false memory, wipe their memory clean, or leave hidden commands in the person’s brain. For example the hacker could command the victim to secretly hack into a real computer system or even assassinate a person without their knowledge. The hacker can also hack into a person live and control them like a robot or puppet. This is where the movie begins and they are on a mission to investigate and solve the mystery.
This movie takes place after the half-hour cartoon that cartoon network has been airing recently. The AI robots are gone but all of the characters are still there. But you will notice that the movie only focuses on Major Kusanagi, Bateau, the Chief (Aramaki), and Togusa. The other members of section 9 that you are familiar with in the cartoon take a back seat in the movie. I think this was a good move because if they invested any more time in the other characters then it would have been too confusing to someone not familiar to the movie. So if you haven’t watched the series, don’t worry you will still understand and enjoy this movie.
They are absolutely stunning. They use a combination of computer graphics and real animation. The characters are not static but are constantly moving in the frame. This gives the viewer a sense of realism that “cartoons” do not achieve.
The animation style is more geometric and linear than other anime like Miyazaki. This animation is full of straight edges and has a bit of a cold feel to it (which is not a bad thing.) The animation is very much like Akira in and may have taken some of it vision from it. In contrast the animation of Miyazaki is very organic and fluid. His movies are more childlike and warm.
I love the music. It is a combination of classical, ethnic percussion, and synthetic. It is absolutely beautiful.
The sound is also in 5.1.
The DVD extras.
The making of Ghost in the Shell- A short 26 minute making-of video. It is very dated and has an Animal documentary feel to it.
Theatrical trailer- Promotion for the video.
Manga video promo- Promotional video
Fan club trailer- Promotional video
Polygram video promo- Promotional video
A guide to Ghost in the shell- Pretty basic text information.
The key players
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Writer: Kazunori Ito
Music: Kenji Kawai
NR, but it should be R due to violence and nudity.
Language and captions available
English, Japanese, Japanese with English subtitles.
Who is this for?
This is for mature individuals only. There is nudity (albeit not very provocative since she is a cyborg) and plenty of heads get blown off in this movie. So if you can handle these graphic aspects then please pick it up, you won’t regret it.
Why is this first on my top ten Anime movie list?
I actually think that as a pure movie that Akira is a better movie. But the reason I set this apart from Akira is the concept of life that is presented in this movie. What is intelligent life and is that definition going to change in the future. It is a very deep concept that the author pulls off very well. And it hits home in so many ways.
This movie is a combination detective story, action movie, and a search for the meaning of existence. The movie pulls these elements together in an almost seamless fashion. The graphics are beautiful and they really create a beautiful world that you can believe in. The music is spectacular and beautiful. My only real complaint is…hmm, guess I don’t have one.
I want to leave you with a quote from the actor who voiced Bateau, “We performed this as a love story, romance, and you can’t watch something like this with your mind. You have to watch it with your heart.”
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Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older