The skillful blending of drawn animation and computer-generated imagery excited anime fans when this science fiction mystery was released in 1995: many enthusiasts believe Ghost suggests what the future of anime will be, a... more »t least in the short term. The film is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or "enhanced" humans for undercover work. One of the key cyborgs is The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, who resembles a cross between The Terminator and a Playboy centerfold. She finds herself caught up in a tangled web of espionage and counterespionage as she searches for the mysterious superhacker known as "The Puppet Master." Mamoru Oshii directs with a staccato rhythm, alternating sequences of rapid-fire action (car chases, gun battles, explosions) with static dialogue scenes that allow the characters to sort out the vaguely mystical and rather convoluted plot. Kusanagi's final quote from I Corinthians suggests that electronic evolution may compliment and eventually supplant organic evolution. The minor nudity, profanity, and considerable violence would earn Ghost in the Shell at least a PG rating. --Charles Solomon« less
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX Reviewed on 3/23/2010...
One of the best Animes. The "questionable for children" you should read as "don't let your kid watch this until they are 16"
Great voice acting (in the English version at least and I would expect nothing short of amazing in Japanese)
Script is well done, the characters are believable interesting and well developed.
Artwork is (was) groundbreaking, they have some really clever things going on here, as far as body movements (articulation) shape depth and color, are all very well done.
The storyline is interesting and maintainable, once you get settled into it (which the opening does a wonderful job) it is easy and natural to follow. There are a number of twists that are both interesting and clever.
All around this is a solid anime, and a great permanent addition to your collection. If you are simply curious about anime there are worse to start with, just make sure that you are also a sci fi fan, as there are some elements that are reminiscent of Blade Runner (futuristic, terrorist themes...)
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've read a few reviews comparing 'Ghost in the Shell' to 'The Matrix'. Personally I don't think it's an accurate comparison at all. Think 'Blade Runner' here. It has the same kind of atmosphere that made BR such a cult movie and it deals with the same subject. Compared to most other animes out there, GITS may seem a little dull, but if you're the kind who likes to have some brain activity when watching an anime, then you'll probably like this. One other thing that caught my attention is that, like 'Blade Runner', it flows along like water. You could easily start watching it and find yourself loosing track of time. It is short tough, only 82 min. It's a shame really, because with the vast amount of sub-plots present in Masamune Shirow's original work they could easily make an anime with well over 2hrs. That aside, the animation is some of the best you will ever see. Kusanagi's battle with the tank at the end comes to mind. Very sleek. The music is also very peculiar. It's kinda of a cross between ambient, electronica and new age. It's not for everyone be warned. Unlike normal music scores, Kenji Kawai's score does not bring the action to life, quite on the contrary. It's always present very softly in the background to the point of you forgetting about it. It creates a sense of detachment, or contemplation that, in my opinion, works great for this kind of movie, however I can see why some people would disagree. All in all, this one is a true classic to be ranked along the side of Akira. Get it!Image Quality: Very good for the most part. The anime's dark atmosphere and dull colours transfer well to DVD. The blacks aren't as good as I would hope and at some points the image quality is, for some reason, a tad worse (the intro shots for example), however times like these are few and far between. The whole image is very soft and I hoped the edges would be a little more sharp. I'm not sure if this is because of the transfer or the movie itself because I haven't seen 'Ghost in the Shell' in any other digital format and I certainly aren't going to take for reference the VHS edition *grin*. But don't let what I said put you off, as for the most part you'll be more than satisfied at the image quality. For an example, when the optic camouflage kicks in and you have the 'rainbow' effect (if you see it you'll know what I'm talking about) all the colours are very well defined and very crisp and you'll find yourself thinking how cool it looks. On another shot of Bateau inside his car more to the end, you can see water drops on the side window... try doing that on VHS. Very nice.Sound Quality: When I bought this DVD I wasn't expecting anything special on the sound department. Boy, was I wrong. The sound comes in two flavours: English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 The stereo version is nothing to write home about. It's adequate... just. The only good thing about it is that you get to hear the Japanese voice acting which is always nice, other than that (if you've got a 5.1 setup) just forget about it. The 5.1 version is where the sound really comes to life. It hasn't got an intricate and complex soundstage like 'Twister' for example, but it sure delivers the sound with a punch. Your subwoofer will love you every time you pop in this DVD. From the roaring explosions, machine gun fire or the deep drums on some parts of the musical score, the bass is always deep and clear. Music is all around you, coming from all channels most of the time, so this at least creates an involving atmosphere, especially when the music is of the ambient type I've described. The surround channels are also nicely used. When shots are fired you get a sort of 'echo' effect going in the two surrounds. It might not be accurate, but when those HV bullets start flying around, you'll be glad to have the right setup. On the market chase scene, for example you get voices and sounds coming from the surrounds bringing the market to life. The surround channels are never aggressive nor overused, but I think this is the best you can expect out an anime.Extras: Well, they're better than most DVD I've seen. You get a 25-30 min 'Making of Ghost in the Shell' which is narrated by the guy who does the voice of Bateau in the English version (I hope I'm right about this, it does sound a lot like him). This won't tell you anything terribly new, but it does provide a little insight at some of the techniques used.The DVD also has a sort of index that provide information on certain aspects of the universe of 'Ghost in the Shell'. Characters, machine design, the various sections involved, etc... again, nothing terribly new, but I can see how it can shed some light in certain areas to those who aren't very familiarised with Shirow's universe or the anime itself. The rest of the extras are just ads for manga video, polygram, fan clubs, etc..."
Intellectual, existential action anime
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 03/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An existential action anime? That's what Ghost In The Shell, a.k.a. Kokakukidotai (Shell Mobile Force) is, with animation sporting top-of-the-line computer imagery in the Bladerunner-like metropolis of Newport, but that's secondary compared to the underlying intellectual theme.Major Kusanagi Motoko is a skillfully trained cyborg assassin in Newport's Section 9, who's taking out a diplomat illegally trying to give immunity to a listed programmer, demonstrates her training, including an amazing moment when she dives off a building, picks off her target, and via a thermoptic camouflage (i.e. portable cloaking device), vanishes from sight.She and the members of her team, consisting of the mostly human Togusa, Ichikawa, and Batou, a burly no-nonsense blond cyborg with electronic eye implants, are trying to track down the Puppet Master. The Puppet Master is a master hacker who hacks into people's brains and uses them for his dirty work, presumably to carry out espionage or terrorism, leaving his puppets no memory of their infiltration. One of his puppets keeps using a public computer to try to infiltrate the brain of his wife, who is divorcing him and wants custody of their child. When he's picked up, he is told by Section 9 that his wife, child, and divorce are all false memories imprinted by the Puppet Master, causing further distress to the man when he is told the fake memories can't be erased.However, there are two conflicts going on. One is Kusanagi's mission to hunt down the Puppet Master. The other and the one with a deeper meaning is the search for her identity within the scheme of a whole, or rather, something beyond her individual self, highlighted by her words taken from the Book of Corinthians: "For now we through a glass, darkly." This reflects an earlier statement when she says in observation of a victim of the Puppet Master, "all data that exists is both fantasy and reality. Whichever it is, the data a person collects in a lifetime is a tiny bit compared to the whole." A postmodernist flair is introduced when the Puppet Master says "While memories may as well be the same as fantasy, it is by these memories that mankind exists."The question thus is, is it possible for the soul to exist in a highly technological world, where special operatives have cyborg shells, metabolic control systems, ESP, and cyber-brains?
The search is also symbolized when she surfaces, and the animated image of her rising up to meet her reflection, representing her true self. She wonders if she has a ghost, an animating soul or spirit. In looking at the construction of her body in the opening credits, one sees that she's heavily mechanized, with an outer layer of flesh surrounding her.Her attempt at defining the self begins with a unique face, voice, childhood memories, feelings for the future, and the set of mental processes producing a consciousness that is "me." However, upon a discovery involving the Puppet Master, she further worries that what if there wasn't a real "me," that "I believe I exist based only on what my environment tells me. ... What if a computer brain can generate a ghost and harbor a soul? On what basis then do I believe in myself?" In other words, what if there is no higher power to connect to, bringing into mind the word "religion," which means "to reconnect to."The action sequences aren't extreme, ultraviolent, or gratuitous in the chase sequences, but are moderate, that is until the heavy artillery is brought out, at which point glass, metal, and rock starts to fly. A very intelligent, thought-provoking, one-of-a-kind existential, soul-searching anime, with Kusanagi despite its cyborg dominance showing some human traits."
Well, I had to see it twice to fully appreciate it...
Knyte | New York, NY | 11/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Ghost In The Shell" is the most engaging anime I have yet to be exposed to. I've also seen: "Vampire Hunter D", "Macross Plus" (loved it), "Do You Remember Love" (a fave), and...uh, does "Robotech", "Transformers The Movie", and "Voltron" (Golion/Dairugger XV) count? Okay, you get the picture -- I'm not exactly a die-hard anime fan yet, but I really do prefer Japanimation to any other kind of animation (seriously!); so here goes my review:I'd heard so much good stuff about this film that I finally decided to rent it, along with 1998's "Dark City" (which was a good decision). The first time I watched it, I found myself resisting the urge to write down technical details like "Section 6", and "Section 9", and "MOFA" because they seemed to be important details to remember. The movie ran its course, and I felt a little (no, very!) disappointed. Then I decided to read what others had to say online, and they seemed to (for the most part), enjoy it. Many folks also suggested that viewers watch it at least twice. I decided to watch "Dark City" instead.After watching "Dark City", I realized that one very cool movie released in 1999 borrowed heavily from both "Ghost In The Shell", and "Dark City", and that ground-breaking film was "The Matrix". From "Ghost", I feel that (visually) Trinity's character can be likened to Major Kusanagi (sexy, tough, short-haired), some of the combat scenes (pillars being blown away by machine-gun fire), EVEN, Trinity's deadly entrance (the same way the Major makes her deadly entrance). Lastly (and most obviously), the neck interface plugs, and the significance of the internet in this film seem to be elements borrowed for usage in "The Matrix". Even the open-ended ending reminds me of the way Neo seemed to look triumphantly on his situation with opened eyes..."Ghost In The Shell" ends in very much the same way. (Perhaps both Neo and Trinity owe elements of their identities to Major Kusanagi, or maybe I'm stretching things a little to far...)For those of you who haven't seen "Dark City" or "Ghost In The Shell", I suggest you see them both. All I will say about "Dark City" is, in that movie, things aren't as they seem, and like "Ghost In The Shell", the film deals with our perceptions of reality, of our memories, and our souls. Upon my second viewing of "Ghost", I realized just what everyone was talking about -- "Ghost In The Shell" is a super-cool anime, that raises the bar (thematically) for any anime that aspires to deal with realistic issues. I liked it much better the second time around...Also, I enjoyed hearing the tough-guy vocal stylings of Lunk (Robotech) and Guld (Macross Plus) return in the form of Bateau in this film (Richard Epcar). His performance was the best in my opinion. Vocally, Major Kusanagi could sound very cold and flat, but at the same time, maybe this is the way a hardened cyborg would sound -- so you never know; it may not have been a case of bad acting.Visually, this film is simply a masterpiece. I loved the exquisite art detail presented during the riverboat scene (when we got a chance to look at buildings within the city), and the lines the artists added during monitor screen scenes (tre-cool). In addition, the final battle scene between the Major and that tank is a must-see. Also, the arguably overdone nudity isn't nearly as distracting the second time around; it just serves to add a sense of realism. Same with the elaborately depicted "offings" of the government official in the first scene, and the guy in the car near the end.So all in all, you've just read the review of an extremely satisfied viewer. Next up? You guessed it -- "Ninja Scroll".Thanks for reading!C.H.R."
It's lacking...but it's still good.
Ilker Yucel | Annapolis, MD United States | 07/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Akira" may have been confusing, but keep in mind that film's challenge of adapting 2,000 pages into 2 hours...right! And I still think that movie did remarkably well. Now we have the brainchild of Masamune Shirow, the current cyberpunk manga genius adapted for the screen. And in spite of the endless praise this film gets for its action and its skillful blending of computer graphics and tradition cel animation, I have to say that this film is lacking. Don't get me wrong, it is still my #2 favorite anime of all time, and my #4 favorite sci-fi film of all time ("Blade Runner," "Akira," and "2001" being the first three). However, in reading the comic, I have to say that the script-writer for this film (even the original Japanese script, which always tends to be better translated in subtitles than dubbed) made the mistake of taking a series of 6 storylines, cutting 2 or 3 of them out, and cramming the rest, even though not all of them were related. Elaboration: almost each issue of the original manga had its own storyline, connected only by characters. Not ALL of them had to do with the Puppet Master. However, cut a few unnecessary stories out, add the Puppet Master in place of the badguy, and blend it all in...you got the plot of the movie. In spite of that, the film did a rather good job of adapting the original comic, but because of the cramming of storylines, there is a sense of the film being rushed. Hell, it doesn't even clock in at 90 minutes, which tends to be the animated film standard. Now, with that aside, let's get to the real point. The movie itself. It is fantastic! Without this film, "The Matrix" would not exist, or it simply would not have been as good or as interesting, because 90% of that movie (plot, stunts, special effects, etc...) came as a result of the innovations of this movie. The story is very well thought out and brilliantly executed. Because of its shortness, there is a sense of something missing or being lost, but the action in the main gunfight scenes make up for this. The animation is wonderful. The set designs are remarkably well-crafted to recreate a Hong Kong-style city, and the integration of computer-generated 3-D virtual cityscapes is exceedingly well-done. The character designs and their personalities are given their just attention, and while the unbelievably pale white skin of the characters might blind the viewer, the use of transparent eye colors give the cyborg populace of this film a soul all their own. That is the entire point of the movie...the soul. The computer effects are wonderful, and the music score by Kenji Kawai is soothing, ambient, eerie, and beautifully compliments this shadowy virtual world. Of course, the Japanese dialogue is better suited to the characters (especially since they really tend to go all out and pour their souls into it...heh, souls again!), but the English voice cast holds its own. Somehow the bland and almost monotone nature in which Mimi Woods delivers her interpretation of the character of Major Kusanagi compliments the quandary of the cybernetic femme fatale's ghost. The voices of Bateau, Togusa, and Chief Aramaki are well-suited as well, but the dark voice given by Abe Lasser to the Puppet Master is almost frightening. Overall, this film is one of the best animated films to be released in a long time, not to mention one of the highest ranking sci-fi films of all time. Flaws and all aside, this is not to be missed!"
Really a unique film for the genre.
Knyte | 08/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ghost in the Shell has a very cranial plot, so those viewers who think anime is nothing more than flying guts and warped tentacles might as well crawl back into their sewer, because they're not going to like it. On the other hand, anyone who has seen and appreciated 2001 or Royal Space Force: Wings of Onneamis will love Ghost in the Shell. The movie is much more complex than it actually appears, and has a fascinating plot surrounding the destination of the human soul in the future, although the more memorable images are of rampant gunfire and Motoko Kusanagi's omnipresent bare breasts. The animation is excellent in both its computer and cel forms, although the character design is very original - and very worthwhile. Ghost in the Shell surpasses Akira as a vehicle for the popular display of anime largely because of its more charismatic cast and its fascinating plot. Akira dealt with similar subject matter, had a longer running time, and had the same high-quality animation that Ghost in the Shell has, but Ghost is better because it can be widely appreciated not for its spectacle but for its intelligence. Both Akira and Ghost in the Shell had important messages in them. Unfortunately Akira's violence has become a myth in its own right instead of incidental. Some people will fault Ghost in the Shell for not going to the same extremes. They should stick to Akira. In short, if you want beautiful, intelligent and original anime, Ghost in the Shell is for you. It is the showcase that Manga Video promoted, but not in the way they think it is. Still, you don't want to miss it."