As the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie, starring Scarlett Johansson, is coming out this March so I decided to watch the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie. Please bear in mind that I haven’t read the manga or seen the anime series. This is actually my 2nd attempt at watching this movie, and I think hard-core anime fans will be pissed after reading this, because I was fairly bored while watching this the 1st time.
Now, now, in my defence I can say this that I wasn’t in the correct frame of mind to register what was happening in this movie and also I didn’t take anime too seriously, then. Now after studying the cultural impact this movie had e.g. The Matrix, Avatar etc. and after getting into noir and neo-noir, I watched this movie and I fairly enjoyed it and I know how a lot of anime fans are freaking out about Johansson’s casting. But I think, in all fairness, she will be a good Major.
So, diving in. The story is set in a time where everybody is connected to the internet. Actually, almost 99% of the people have augmented their brains and limbs to achieve a kind of immortality and live on. One system connects everyone and you can imagine what can happen if it gets hacked. As far as my limited intelligence goes, I perceived this: Like the proverbial soul, every brain is supplemented with a ghost. If the augmented brain is being given to a person who already has memories then his/her memories will be added into his/her ghost. If it’s a fully synthetic cyborg, then it’s ghost will be filled with artificial or no memories and just information about life. So, in the initial stages, we can already see that Major’s ghost is beginning to produce noise which she shrugs off as “her time of the month”. But in reality, it’s her consciousness or sentience that is growing.
While her sentience is still growing a already full blown sentient ghost has already uploaded itself into the system and it’s called the “Puppet Master”. So Motoko and her/it’s team is assigned to hunt down this Puppet Master and stop the possible end of civilisation.
I absolutely loved the neo-noir feel of the film. I think I’ll re-watch Cowboy Bebop after this or sometime in the distant future. The thing that really engaged me was Mamoru Oshi never rushed anything. He blended the manga and the adapted screenplay into such a beautiful masterpiece. Those scenes of Motoko’s self-reflection combined with the music gave me chills. The usage of colour throughout the film enhanced the futuristic nature of the film, while the art-work balanced it by showing the rustic and rural scenery of the city.
The action set-pieces were so smooth. I am actually a fan of 2D and stop-motion animation. I will always prefer 2D animation over the 3D plastic like animation that is more popular nowadays. Where stop-motion animation has a sense of weight and place, 2D animation has a semi-fluid motion which gives a sense of reality to it’s universe. 3D animation has been done over and over again so many times and now the attraction for it is gone. I think it’s time to go back to the basics.
FINAL VERDICT – I am keeping this review short and sweet because in case a manga or anime lover is reading this, I’ll be putting myself in immense danger if I go on about this beloved anime.
I’ll definitely recommend you to watch it. There’s a simplistic story which peels off it’s layers and finally asks the most complex question about life itself.
As I mentioned before, judging by the trailers, there’s a good chance that the live-action movie can end up being at par with the anime and for those who are completely and aggressively revolting against the movie due to it’s casting, I think you should give it a chance. Until you watch a movie, it can be good and it can be bad. If you don’t watch it, you won’t know and also you are robbing the people involved, of a chance they deserve due to the effort they put in.
If it’s bad, hang it. But at least give it a chance first.
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