Today I watched Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Identity in an era where technology and the human have become one has become a serious discussion in our times and one of the first places many people were introduced to this brand of philosophy was here. Ghost in the Shell is the story of an elite special forces cyborg named Motoko Kusanagi as she investigates the case of an elite hacker known only as the Puppet Master. The plot of this film is largely secondary though, the film focuses instead on philosophical meditations on identity, sexuality, and the interconnectedness of the wired world.
Ghost in the Shell handles it’s philosophical aspirations very well and melds its beautifully with the more action heavy narrative. It is a surprisingly slow moving film for anime standards, there are scenes which exist solely for characters to discuss themselves and the world with little to no relevance to the actual ‘plot’. I don’t say this as a criticism as the movie is wholly aware of what it wants to show which is not the action or violence but the introspective dialogue and drawn out sequences of the world set to Kenji Kawai’s haunting score.
It is rare to find a film that can balance entertaining action, futuristic procedural elements, and meditative philosophizing, let alone a film that can do that in only an hour and a half. Ghost in the Shell asks some big questions about who we are and what we will become, it explores how technology and the human combine to become the posthuman and what that will look like in a future society not much unlike our own. For this and the fact that it was one of the first and still best films to blend traditional animationg with CGI, Ghost in the Shell wholly deserves it’s status as a classic. 5/5