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T.H.E.M. Animé Café Awards

9th Place

[ café reviews ]

Ghost in the Shell title

Koukaku Kidoutai
(Ghost in the Shell)

[ production info ]

Copyright: © 1995, 1996 Masamune Shirow / Kodansha Ltd. / Bandai Visual Co., Ltd. / Manga Entertainment Inc.
Length: 82 minutes
Genre: science-fiction / action / drama
Rating: NR, Recommended for Mature Audiences
Format: Original Japanese Dialog / Subtitled (VHS/DVD)

Based on a story by Masamune Shirow. Directed by Oshi Mamoru.

[ rated m ]

adult situations
intense situations

Recommended for Mature Audiences - Some very graphic violence, and disturbing scenes of bodies being torn apart by both explosive slugs, and on their own volition. Nudity is abundant, but is very casual and matter-of-fact -- not in a sexual context. Definitely not for children.

[ plot summary ]

vhs jacket

In the not-so-distant future, cybernetics and vast computer networks are commonplace. Wars are now fought not only physically, but also on a virtual level, crippling entire nations from within. Newport City's elite security force - Section 9 - is assigned to combat crimes outside of regular channels.

Major Kusanagi Motoko is a member of this elite force, investigating the illegal export of an expert programmer -- a programmer whose skills might be used to derail sensitive diplomatic talks with the Gavel Republic. But Kusanagi discovers that this is merely the beginning of a major coverup instigated by Section 6, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The MFA has its own problem, a problem that's gotten out of hand. A master computer criminal is on the loose, hacking into the very souls of various people, programming his victims to do his bidding... a master criminal known only by his alias: 'The Puppet Master'.

[ capsule review ]

The names Shirow Masamune or Oshi Mamoru are synonymous with exceptional talents in their respective fields. Put the two together, and you're bound to have a masterpiece... or so Manga Entertainment would have you believe. GitS was the most hyped (perhaps over-hyped?) anime title in North America since Akira. And guess what? This is one movie that actually lives up to its billing... mostly.

Creative genius Shirow Masamune has produced an incredibly rich, textured society in which he spins an intricate tale of political dealings and covert investigations. His vision of the future is not just plausible -- it's frighteningly so. Much of what he presents is merely an extension of what we have today, extrapolating one possible outcome from today's rapidly developing technologies. Shirow has always paid attention to detail (such as the effects of having cybernetic parts), and GitS is no exception. But the ideas contained in this work are most compelling... If one can merely replace body parts at will, is our own physical entity merely an expendable 'shell'? What is the human consciousness, and is the very concept redundant? These are echoes of Philip K. Dick's short story, Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?. And like Ridley Scott's adaptation in Blade Runner before it, the results challenge the mind. Yes, we have seen these ideas before -- but I can't recall seeing these individual elements resolving itself into such a compelling plot. This is not your typical Star Trek episode where someone writes a script around a singularly thought-provoking idea; this is a complete virtual world.

But Shirow's material is only part of the whole -- Oshi Mamoru's contemplative, methodical directing style leaves an indelible mark on your subconcious as he involves all your senses in this vision of the future. Some will undoubtably find this movie boring: Oshi does tend to be a little self-indulgent with his use of long, segue scenes which are punctuated in this instance by Kawai Kenji's moody, ethnically-inspired soundtrack. Mechanical designs by Kawamori Shoji. Screenplay by Ito Kazunori. Does this sound like a who's who of anime? But here, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Flawless cel and computer animation, soundtrack, story, composition and deliberate pacing combine to create a setting which looks and feels remarkably like modern day Hong Kong or Singapore, complete with all the trappings of daily urban living... a world that draws you into its gritty existance. Truly an outstanding piece of work.
- AN, 98.05.16

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/A 5 stars N/A
Direction: N/A 4 stars N/A
Acting: N/A 5 stars N/A
Animation: N/A 5 stars N/A
Music: N/A 4 stars N/A
Translation: N/A 4 stars N/A
Overall Rating: N/A 4 stars N/A

[ see also ]

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Page last modified 1999.01.26