The Ghost in the Shell is a masterpiece of film and sound composition. The camera is a world-forming vehicle of emotions and inquisitiveness, from the long-panning shots of urban desolation, to the montages of Major Kusanagi gazing with her nano-optic eyes at the sky-high building structures, wondering her place in the world.
The film was directed by Mamoru Oshii and stands tall today as classic anime alongside the earlier “Akira”. Comparing the two is similar semantically to the comparison of the first and second Godfathers. They are both great anime films, and are regarded as great science-fiction in circles of live-action movies as well. As the major says, “If we all reacted the same way, we’d be predictable, and there’s always more than one way to view a situation. What’s true for the group is also true for the individual.”
The Ghost in the shell comes in two-packages. The original, and the 2.0 version, the latter appealing to the new generation of CGI. The original has a painted quality and I prefer it for the sense of artistic authenticity. The film is a catalyst of the metaphysical. It wears this well, while also being action-packed and gizmo-heavy. I can’t stress enough the sound and foley sound dynamics of the movie; helicopters flying, the puppet-masters well-pitched monotone, melancholy soundtracks, it is a film of overbearing beauty, not leaving any part of the film-making bundle out.
A common criticism is of the two-dimensionality of the characters; but this seems as dim as saying the film Goodfellas’ wasn’t good because the characters lacked sympathy. It is a time and a place, and the theme is bold enough as to think you’d catch on that its a pretty cold, information-driven world. I grasped onto the character of Batou and Togusa. Batou was a sort of beauty of the beast, big and brawn, but heartfelt and mentally present. Togusa was a family man, albeit a bit cliché and seen before, who ran-down the world the old-fashioned way, with a revolver and not an elbow-wrenching sub-machine gun; generally, Togusa is comic-relief, a dummy for Batou and the Major to poke fun at and show their superiority. And we see this in the second Ghost in the shell film, where the visible inadequacy to the mental rigor of Batou is shown, because Togusa is pure human, yet he is still an important character for the sake of the Majors ideal of an unspecific group-type.
All of the characters above are detectives on the task-force of section 9, in charge of A.I. discrepancies and crimes. They must stop the ghost-hacking entity called the puppet-master, and doing this is a long journey of cyber-crosses and political espionage. It has the genius syntax similar of the modern film ‘Inception’, but with added spunk, style, and atmosphere. If you haven’t seen the film, watch it, and if you’ve seen it once, watch it again.