Ghost In The Shell is one of those game-changing anime movies, much like Akira (1988) was, at least that’s how I always looked at it. I remember buying the VHS and at the time was floored by the animation and its story. I also bought the DVD when it first came out in 1998, but then financial difficulties hit me in the early 2000s and I made the decision to trade in all my anime, comedies and suspense flicks, because of that haven’t seen the movie since then. I had never seen the sequel until recently (reviewed here), but I have very little memory of what the original flick was about.
Last night I finally had the chance to revisit this gem and, maybe, they should have subtitled this one, ‘Do Androids Dream Of Evolution,’ for I had forgotten how truly “science-fictiony” this movie got, and I applaud Masamune Shirow, whose manga this anime movie is based on, for speculating on what it means to be “human” when the technology we create has the possibility to become just as sentient as us.
It’s the year 2029 and human technology has reached such an advanced state most people have some form of augmenting their brains, which is one hell of a double edged sword. We all know computers can be hacked, now humans can be hacked too, but more on that later. Our three main characters are Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou and Togusa, they are all Public Security agents in Section 9. Of the three Kusanagi is the most cyborg, with only a select portion of her brain being human, along with her “ghost” (a human soul is referred to as a “ghost,” and cybernetic bodies as “shells”), Batou, second in command, has cybernetic eyes, torso and arms, and Togusa is the most human of the three with only his brain being augmented.
There’s a terrorist on the loose, has been for a number of years, and he’s known as the “Puppet Master.” Rumors have it he’s American, but none of this is true. What’s eventually learned is this “Puppet Master” is a weapon being used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and it got loose on them. It’s one-of-a-kind because it’s a piece of created technology that was able to evolve itself and create its own ghost making it as sentient as you and I. And because all humans are locked into the Net, and one another, the “Puppet Master” can hack a human and alter his memories and personality to do its bidding.
Throughout its free reign in the “real world” it became aware of Kusanagi and seeks to “mate” with her, to “merge” with her and create a new being. This actually happens in the final act, but throughout the rest of the film Section 9 is at odds with Section 6 and MOFA as MOFA seeks to reclaim their “weapon,” while their “weapon” seeks to remain free at all cost. In the interim people are brutally shot to death, beaten up, turned into ghost-hacked puppets and what it means to be human is pontificated.. The character and action animation is first rate and so are the action scenes as well as the various types of technology represented. Some of the best eye candy is the maintenance of Kusinagi’s naked, robotic body that has no genitals (of course, why would you need any), her assassination of a diplomat in the beginning using Predator-like camouflage tech, her beat down of a ghost-hacker terrorist, and the recovery of a female android the Puppet Master downloaded himself into that’s protected by a huge, hi-tech, insectile tank.
On March 14 Anchor Bay Entertainment releases their newest entry in the Mondo x SteelBook series, Ghost In The Shell, on blu-ray only. You can buy it here on Amazon along with their un-retouched 25th Anniversary Edition blu as well as their 2.0 version with the added CGI scenes. If you haven’t gone blu yet, the DVD is still in print on Amazon too.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 Japanese Dolby Digital—English subs only on the Japanese track
Extras included . . .