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Review Ghost in the Shell a.k.a. Kôkaku Kidôtai (1995): Minimal but thought provoking nonetheless!

genre: anime, action, mystery, science fiction

With the upcoming live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell it was time for me to revisit the original and here are my thoughts.

Ghost in the Shell is one of the few titles I hold in high regard and a big reason for that is the nostalgia factor. It's one of the first adult orientated titles in the genre I have seen that struck a cord with me after I dove into the genre because of classic masterpiece Akira. Another reason is that this is one of the few titles that provoked thought with very minimal means. Not a second is wasted on subplots or whatever could be considered a distraction. Even scenes that might be perceived as filler seem to have a function. One of the high points of this anime is that it allows you to form your own thoughts about the events and the characters. Although the main characters do win our sympathy by the way they act and support each other. While some of the techno and philosophy babble could put people off it is admirable how they keep it basic enough for anyone to follow. But this could also be seen as a flaw. This film never goes deep enough in showing us what the world is like and for example what life is like for a cyborg like Motoko Kusanagi a.k.a.The Major. Or show us how life is for the normal humans. You automatically compare with yourself but seeing how this film takes place in the future that is not entirely a fair comparison. BTW the sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence does show us more of daily life in this future world. As do the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: Arise. We just have to assume that apart from some technological advances the world is pretty much the same place. On the other hand not giving us all the details and facts does allow you to fill in the gaps yourself which could be a good thing if you like to do that. Then again why would you be invested into this world if you are not drawn into it? Luckily though the mystery and action make sure your thoughts don't wander off too much. The action is solid but also is minimal so you are warned if you want to watch this solely for the action. I won't reveal too much about the mystery surrounding The Puppet Master. But I found it fascinating since the thought of someone being able to hack people's essences is a frightening and horrific idea. Just the fact that in this world they are capable of putting people's essences into bodies (shells) is very interesting. Although when it comes to technologies like this I am very skeptical and critical for many reasons which I will keep to myself for now. 

For a 82 minute film Ghost in the Shell does quite a lot. Even when it probably raises more questions than it answers it does give you an ending that satisfies. I am not entirely sure if this will be for everyone though. But if you are hesitating then do watch it for the animation since it is superb. You will completely forget that everything is animated and especially at some violent scenes you will feel why anime is the pefect medium since it enhances the dramatic effect tenfold. Definitely check this out before you watch the live action adaptation because I don't have the confidence that Hollywood will be able to translate this animated film properly. 

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