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Important science fiction
Hopper-230 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Ghost in the Shell is a visually stunning animated masterpiece. Japanese animation has always been in a class of its own, so I won't even attempt to describe the incredible attention to detail and beautiful imagery in this movie. In this case the animation is merely icing for what is one of the most important works of science fiction in recent years.

Every generation has had books and movies that have contributed to our collective understanding of reality. Prior to World War II this included books like Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We" and Huxley's "Brave New World", and later Orwell's "1984". Today most warnings about the future fall into the category of science fiction. Science fiction began to fill this role when Arthur C. Clarke's "2001" warned us of the potential for humanity to create intelligent, even sentient computers that could murder their human creators. "2001" envisioned computer intelligence imprisoned in the physical body of a computer. Where "2001" left off, Ghost in the Shell begins.

Ghost in the Shell tells the story of a future in which a computer program, Project 2501, becomes self-aware and begins a quest to fill basic needs it feels are qualifiers of being alive by controlling computers and people to achieve its ultimate goals. Whereas the HAL-9000 computer was relatively harmless, owing to its confinement in the Odyssey space ship, Project 2501 is a recognition that the global internet could have dire consequences for all of us. By comparison, this new villain is virtually invincible. But is Project 2501 a villain?

Most people who have told me that they didn't like this move said that they didn't understand it. Indeed, the story and concepts are very complicated. I have watched it several times and still get new things out of it every time. Roger Ebert called Ghost in the Shell, "Unusually intelligent and challenging science fiction, aimed at smart audiences".

Ghost in the Shell is full of fascinating dialog, such as this diatribe about the cycle of life and death by Project 2501. "A copy is just an identical image. There is the possibility that a single virus could destroy an entire set of systems, and copies do not give rise to variety and originality. Life perpetuates itself through diversity, and this includes the ability to sacrifice itself when necessary. Cells repeat the process of degeneration and regeneration until one day they die, obliterating an entire set of memory and information. Only genes remain. Why continually repeat this cycle? Simply to survive by avoiding the weaknesses of an unchanging system."

Thus Ghost in the Shell goes beyond simply a prediction or warning for the future: it attempts to contribute to our understanding of reality by breaking existence down into biological terms and making us question, along with the characters in the movie, whether or not any of us has a soul. The characters in Ghost in the Shell are unusually deep and are a refreshing change from the one-dimensional stereotypes we've become numbed by in modern media. Ghost in the Shell would be required reading in many high school and university courses if it weren't for the fortuitous fact that it can be enjoyed in this beautifully animated feature film. This is one of the few movies ever made that everyone should watch at least once.
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A stunning and complex cinematic warning
Speechless12 November 2000
Ghost in the Shell is a masterpiece. I would go so far as to say that it's the second best science fiction film I've ever seen (behind 2001, of course), but no one knows about it. I find it terribly unfortunate that the only American viewers familiar with Ghost in the Shell are anime fans, many of whom overlook the film's complexity and see only its nudity and violence. The movie kind of gets in its own way-- within the first five minutes we see the heroine's nude body as well as a very messy head-exploding scene, and many of the viewers who would otherwise end up enthralled by the film's abundant style and intelligence immediately dismiss it as exploitative anime trash. Every time I show this movie to non-anime fans I have to explain beforehand that Ghost in the Shell is a serious work of science fiction and that everything in it, including the adult content, is part of the point the movie makes about where our society is headed.

The film is stylish, artistic, and beautiful. Masamune Shirow's stunningly believable vision of the future makes the jump from manga to anime remarkably well. As brilliant as the comics are, I really prefer the film version, which eliminates the nearly pornographic T&A (the film has nudity but it's clearly not meant to be titillating) and all of the exaggerated comic relief which only detracted from the manga in my opinion. The film's action sequences are strikingly different from the overly stylized symphonies of destruction seen in most action films. Gunfire, martial arts combat, and car chases are depicted exactly as they would occur in the real world-- without fast music or Armageddon-style hyper-editing or any of the needless cinematic baggage we've come to expect. But it's the movie's ideas that make it great, particularly in the last half hour, when thoughtful viewers learn what this story is all about-- the emergence of a new kind of life form, an intelligent and self-aware intelligence that can live indefinitely without ever inhabiting a physical body. The film argues that this will occur within the next thirty years, and the superbly ambiguous ending inspires us to come up with our own ideas of what will happen to humanity once this new life form begins to reproduce. This is filmmaking that should be seen and discussed.

And now the disclaimer. All of the above comments refer to the subtitled Japanese version of the film, NOT the English dub. Simply put, the dub ruins everything. A good example is Kusanagi's wry comment at the very beginning of the film. An officer who is communicating with Kusanagi through a kind of electronic telepathy tells her there's a lot of static in her brain. In the original Japanese version (as well as in the manga) she replies that "It's that time of the month," but in the dub her comment is inexplicably changed to "Must be a loose wire." It's completely insane-- do they think that, in a film with considerable nudity and graphic violence, people are going to be offended by a PMS innuendo? The whole movie is filled with such intelligence-insulting changes; please do yourself a favor and watch the subtitled version.
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It found a voice... and a following
dee.reid5 August 2004
"Ghost in the Shell" is an intricate masterpiece of cyber-punk fiction and storytelling, successfully melding intriguing philosophical ideas with a coherent, well thought-out (albeit) confusing plot.

Even more, it's a nightmarish vision of a society that's dominated by cyberspace and looking back now, is eerily prescient of today's computerized times. Many of the characters in the film are enhanced, someway or another by machines, to help them get the advantage in a vastly changing society.

I'll avoid going real deep into the plot simply because there's a whole lot to grasp and even I got more than a little confused trying to follow it. The story is that a team of high-level government operatives are hot on the trail of a notorious computer hacker called the "Puppet Master," who is wanted for various crimes in cyberspace and has taken a particularly fond interest in the team's tough, female cyborg leader.

Not surprisingly, as with the stigmas surrounding Anime', "Ghost in the Shell" is not short of nudity and graphic violence. But it's far from being gratuitous, and does not slow down the movie at all.

"Ghost in the Shell" was one of the first Anime' films to skillfully blend traditional drawn animation with computerized imagery. This helps to give the film a surreal, yet beautiful look. And the dialogue helps sometimes too, with helping to sort out the confusing plot and many of its mythical ideas about personal identity and human evolution.

This film is also even more revered today, in 2004, since some of this film's core themes helped to develop the plot basis of the insanely popular "Matrix" films, and some scenes from "Ghost in the Shell" were even homaged to in the first "Matrix" movie. The Wachowski Brothers certainly do owe a lot to this movie for the success of their work in America.

I think that to understand "Ghost in the Shell," it would help to accept that Anime' is much more complex and daring than traditional American animation. Most Japanese animation films, like this one, "Akira," or Mayazaki's "Spirited Away," are on a level of sophistication that will never be matched in America.

It has been said that the majority of American audiences would be afraid of Anime' because of the many stereotypes surrounding it, but that's why it's boundless - it's been given free reign to use those stigmas to its advantage in developing truly remarkable pieces of art that have gone largely ignored here in the U.S. "Ghost in the Shell" could very well be a mere reflection or a parable of a doomed society that's probably already accepted its dark fate. Most American animation would never touch up on this sort of subject matter.

"Ghost in the Shell" is my #3 choice Anime' film (behind "Spirited Away" and "Akira") because it's so full of ideas and is masterful in telling a dark story about our times.

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Quag725 October 2001
I liked everything about this film. Much has been made of the artwork, and with good reason. Voltron, this isn't. I am not an anime fan and haven't seen a lot of anime films. Most plot descriptions of anime films sound boring to me. I'm not into monsters and tentacles or cute wide eyed little girls fighting evil. (Not that cute wide eyed little girls shouldn't fight evil, I mean, I'm all about fighting evil, aren't we all?) Ghost in the Shell, on the other hand, represents the best of its genre and the best of any genre is worth a watch. This movie ought to appeal to anyone who enjoys cerebral films. It addresses interesting philosophical questions about identity, some of which we will no doubt be pondering in the not too distant future. (I'm perhaps foolishly optimistic when it comes to AI).

I should add as well that this is definitively in the cyberpunk genre. If you liked the old Max Headroom television series or movies like Wargames, this will no doubt appeal to you. Even the English dubbing isn't bad, even if it is a little bit fast (to keep up with Japanese).

Darken the room, sink low in your chair, turn the volume up (the soundtrack is spectacular), and fall into this movie. I wish there were more like it. The artwork is incredible (if you don't consider animation art, you should take a look at Ghost) and the plot and dialogue are three dimensional and thought provoking. Two thumbs up. As I say, best of genre.
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The manga for the masses.
Luke-Walker30 July 2002
This is the most beautiful film i've ever seen.

There, i've said it. Watch it and be awed at how amazingly detailed and fluid the whole film is. Never does it falter in the art department. The colours are just right, the peoples movements are so real its scary, and sometimes the strong story of the film cant fit all this beauty in and so it releases it entirely in a magical scene in the middle of the film with no dialogue and no plot progression, just marvellous panoramic followed by marvellous panoramic shot. This is my favourite segment of the movie. It shows the nameless city in which the protagonists exist as a cluttered, enclosed, claustrophobic world, yet terrifyingly familiar. This film is full of such themes which subtly make their way into your mind and you dont even realise they're there until afterwards.

So lets talk about the story. Its an amazing monster of a tale, squeezing it all in barely in its short running time. It does sometimes feel a little rushed, a little convoluted so that it bears repeat viewings to get the whole thing, but it is still a strong story none the less. In fact it is a very mature story. The creators could have so easily gone the typical manga route and thrown in some invading demons or mega-destructive internet monsters. But no, the whole thing restrains intself to a realistic view of an extra-ordinary situation. it all feels like this is exactly how it would happen in real life, and that is what makes it so engaging, and so scary.

This film deserves to be seen, not just because the heavenly beauty warrants it, but because the deep issues it raises needs to be questioned. If you want to be entertained without thinking, watch Wicked City or the countless millions of other mediocre mangas out there. You want to be entertained and be made to think and question the film? See this.

You wont regret it.
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antialias1123 January 2005
That anime could be this good. I'd thought I'd seen good anime when a friend brought me 'Akira', but this one is just awesome.

It has everything that one could want. An interesting plot, deep thoughts, nice dialog, hot chicks, cool action, neat tech, and animation that puts everything to shame which has ever been produced in the western world.

Now when I watch anime I usually expect (and dread) the scene which will explain something about the fundamental nature of life, the universe, or whatever. This is (the only part) where 'Akira' failed. This is where 'Final Fantasy' went down the drain. But 'Ghost in the Shell' shines here brightly.

While watching it for the first time I had always this nagging feeling that some such scene would turn up and ruin the truly stunning visuals. Not so. After the '2501' monologue the story really comes together and you start to be eager for story development instead of just looking for the many details and extravagant action sequences.

A word on the story: No, you will probably not 'get' the story the first time around. Especially in the English version you will have to make the connection between MoFA, MF, MFA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is easy to get confused over. The whole storyline might not be quite as complicated as understanding some 'Aeon Fluxx' episodes, but you have to rewatch the story to get a feel for the interconnection of the different players - especially if you are not familiar with the Ghost in the Shell literature. The story,thank god, is not dumbed down for the average viewer. This is what makes rewatching it so enjoyable. It has also some nice reflections on what it means to be human - things you may ask of yourself after the movie finishes ('Who knows what's inside our heads. Have you ever seen your own brain?').

The animation is superb, and used to unusual effect. The details are exquisite - especially cloth effects and character motions. There are a few scenes that only have music or an accentuating sound effect in the background while the animators show off their full artistic talent. But it's not just show-off time, the visuals are tied in with the subject and leave the viewer time to reflect on the philosophical/sociological messages (like showing the cybernetic heroine look at tailors' dummies)

In short: This is a must see for anybody who likes anime. Definitely a movie for grown-ups, though, because the graphic violence may disturb kids and the philosophy will go right over their heads.

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An Animation Masterpiece
queitus11 May 2002
This is an incredible work in the science fiction category, but an absolute masterpiece in terms of animated film.

Deep thematic probing and philosophical questions dot the story. Characters that are cyborg-humans question their existence... this is a true potential problem for the far future. Is something created outside of a womb without a soul? Do souls even exist? Set all this against some incredible action sequences, plenty of eye candy, and a very dark, acrid backdrop of the future of civilization. This is a summer blockbuster and more. It's ashame that most people are too close-minded to consider a film like this.

Bad guys and good guys? No clue. I had to watch the film 3 times to

-Understand the plot fully -Understand the motivations of the characters -Realize the depth of the film -And still I'm left with questions

If you open your mind, Ghost in the Shell settle itself within you... it will linger far after your first viewing. You will realize that a movie can have action, incredible effects, and STILL be deep.

Drama, mystique, philosophy, intrigue, "going out on a limb" quality, action, adventure, deep characters who don't fall into bad or good categories, beautiful imagery, mind-boggling plot... even some comedy! I just can't get over the fact that I have never before seen a more perfect mix of the elements which make a masterpiece. EVER.

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A masterpiece of Art, Technology and Culture...
Guiz22 December 1998
I would highly recommend this cyber-political-industrial thriller that envisions our future in a hyper realistic (idealistic?) way. The plot is excellent, though I did not get it the first time. The quality of the graphics surpasses any anime available on the market and the soundtrack is beautiful. The creative team did an amazing job providing the movie with fine details, harmony in this very descriptive world of high technology (AI) and traditional Japan. I thoroughly believe it is a masterpiece, a unique audio-visual experience. (cf. Blade Runner, Akira)
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Just a whisper in my spirit.
SantiagoDM127 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Ghost in the Shell tells the story of Major Kusanagi, a member of Sector 9, a private defense organization of the Japanese government to investigate cybercrime. Most of all members of sector 9 have altered their bodies, and have cybernetic augments. Our protagonist has only his physical human brain, the rest of his body is synthetic, what could be considered an android. Other comrades like Batou have cybernetic eyes, with multiple uses, while almost everyone has intracranial radio implants to be able to speak without using a microphone.

The post-Third World War society that presents us with the world of Ghost in the Shell, combined with the use of this cybernetic improvement technology of the body for all of society, generates a new vision of humanity. These improvements range from simple implants, entire limbs or improvements to productivity. As for example extendable and quick fingers for the secretariat or stronger arms for weight jobs. These improvements generate the concept that human consciousness is "bottled" and refers to it as the "ghost", the spectrum.

The story itself narrates the investigation of a cyber pirate, called the puppeteer, who is wreaking havoc on section 9 and the government, assaulting the bodies and memories of the people. Without going too far into the spoilers, Major Kusanagi, in her quest to know who she is, develops an intellectual fascination for him.

This is the starting point for the reflections that the film proposes later, especially those focused on what defines humanity. Where the barrier between the synthetic, the virtual and the real diffuses. Everything that makes you be you may not be yours.

Kusanagi spends the whole film wondering who she is and, in the end, reborn between angel feathers and symbols of resurrection. We find nihilistic metaphors in the motif of the reflections, where Kusanagi tries to glimpse what the real world is and who she is. The film's own presentation is replete with these symbols. Kusanagi emerging from the water and merging with his reflection. This symbology reflects our inability to perceive what is real. Oshii gets the viewer to interpret the abstract as a possible world that appears as real to our eyes, the world we inhabit. As the puppet master explains to Kusanagi that only she can see him through a crystal, but with his fusion She will be able to see clearly. The crystal and the water, the reflections, are poetic expressions of the idea "we can not know what is real". They are visual symbols of the epistemological nihilism that appears continuously throughout the film...

Ghost in the Shell has left an indelible mark on our cultural history, planting the seed of many ideas in different creators. Perhaps the most important and well-known is Lana and Lilly Wachowski's Matrix, the number lines in green when entering the system, the puppet master can be compared with Agent Smith, with his existentialist reflections, aesthetics and especially the fact of that our minds can be part of a world made entirely of data and consequently stop feeling the "reality" that we supposedly perceive.

It is truly a feature film that is a visual marvel, but the best way to enter into symbiosis with Ghost in the Shell is to watch the film and be predisposed to our mind merging with the delightful images and transport us to another reality

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A Visually Stunning Anime for Adult Audiences
AMIO-PatricioMunoz16 November 2003
Wonderfully executed anime classic.

It is a darker anime tale aimed towards a more mature audience. I enjoyed the amazing realism of this film. The attention to detail is definitely enjoyable to see.

The DVD has a rather enjoyable documentary on the making of the film. Any fan will enjoy the structure and content of the documentary. It is quite informative on the process of making the film.

Like most Anime, there is a lot of character development and dialogue mixed with stunning visuals.

I think the most captivating element that this film has to offer is its creative "cinematography" and attention to detail. There are numerous memorable shots in this film.

This is not an anime for everybody. Attention to story is critical and I am guilty of rewinding certain areas just to keep up with the story.

Thankfully this is not a mindless science-fiction/anime tale filled with crazy action sequences. The Ghost in the Shell proves to be quite philosophical in nature by questioning the meaning of life.

I would love to venture deeper into this story and its message but I think it is better for you interpret it on your own.

Remember to watch this movie with your heart, not with your mind. Reflect on it later. This is the best way to enjoy this type of film.
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Don't Listen to koryanpiora
Noir_Blues13 March 2005
This is single handedly one of the best animated films I've ever seen. You can definitely tell how far the animation genre has gotten in the last half-century. It's pretty much flawless in my opinion. The story, audio, and especially visuals are excellent. This is definitely one of the most pretty films i've ever seen. The philosophy really made me think too, the matrix tried this idea and failed horribly with it's sequels. This one isn't just for hipsters, if you're a sci-fi fan I couldn't recommend this more. If you liked this, I also recommend Akira, The Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series, and the upcoming Steamboy
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At the top of its genre...
tiyung29 February 2000
I was a huge anime fan in highschool but as time progressed, my interests and focus in media have changed. A few days ago I re-discovered my forgotten anime collection. Behold, Ghost in the Shell.

Watching this fine piece of animation again brought back the reasons why I was attracted to anime in the first place. It is obvious that a lot of work went into Ghost in the Shell; the attention to graphic details creates some remarkably realistic animation.

Though the major reason to see this film is for the animation, there are also other fine points to consider. It has a fairly complex plot. The science it focuses on is definitely modern though, albeit, fantastic.

I recommend the subtitled version because the dubbed dialog is sometimes over wordy and odd-sounding (as are most dubbed versions).

Some viewers may be turned-off by the many scenes that aren't accompanied by music, especially the action sequences. The music, however, is outstanding. There are a couple of scenes that are basically slide shows of various themes. These are accompanied with music and no dialog. The animation, to say the least, is beautiful and seems to be the focus.

In summary, Ghost in the Shell is very satisfying.
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A beautiful masterpiece of ironies
Ryuji-229 April 1999
GITS is a storm of ironies. First, the plot criticizes the very advanced computer technology used to create the film. Its mature themes (nudity and violence) all have relevance, yet draw hordes of immature viewers who end up disappointed by a deeply thoughtful social critique. And as high-tech as it is, the science it probably explores most deeply is anthropology.

Cinematically, it's a masterpiece. The alliance of Kawai's music (Blue Seed), Kawamori's mechs (Macross Plus), and Oshii's directing meld to create stunningly beautiful work transcending their "Patlabor" movies. Its quality and detail make Disney's best look like laughably tasteless scribbles, even though GITS cost a scant $4 million. Oshii's political themes and "still life" sequences are trademark, but to those with no stomach for his tastes, I argue his creative license is a fair compromise for compiling a LONG-running manga into a gripping, self-contained movie. "Akira" is a lot less successful in this aspect.

Watch this movie subtitled. The emotion-starved melancholy Tanaka tastefully infuses in Motoko's voice cannot be replaced with a third-rate American voice actress. Anyone smart enough to understand this movie is smart enough to read, anyway. I don't recommend this movie to everyone; only those with the open-mindedness necessary to stomach, digest and appreciate what it offers. To those people: It's GOOD.
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Humanity Has Underestimated The Consequences
stephenabell29 March 2017
I had quite forgotten how wonderful, inciteful, imaginative, and beautiful this film is. Since Hollywood is making their own version of this film I thought I would revisit the original itself.

America will ruin this movie.

What writer, Masamune Shirow (Manga Author), and screenwriter, Kazunori Ito, give the audience in Ghost In The Shell is a deep and thought- provoking story of a world on the edge of great change. It's the year 2029 and most of the population have been augmented with machinery and computerisation. People are able to send thoughts through the wires and electronic ether to each other as well as verbally. Cyborgs are used to help to police the civilisations.

Major Motoko Kusanagi is one of these cyborgs. She works for Section Nine who are on the trail of The Puppet Master; a hacker who can infiltrate his way into a person's shell and use their ghost to assassinate officials. Though, The Puppet Master is not what he seems.

As the story progresses and the truth is revealed we asked a question... What actually represents life? This looks to be a simple question, however, in the context of the story it expands to absorbing and provocative magnitudes.

This is a story with heart and thought.

What makes this movie and story even more substantial is the animation. Within this film are some great shots and scenes. I love the way that even the backgrounds are so detailed and add to the feel and atmosphere of the film itself.

This is a visually stunning piece of work that should be viewed for that fact alone. In addition, the musical soundtrack of Kenji Kawai is superb as matches the artwork and feel of the film. In one montage Kawai music and the accompanying images emote a feeling of sadness, despair, and hope in the viewer.

If you haven't watched this yet then do yourself a favour and find yourself a copy to watch. Now in my top ten movies.
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There's more than you'd expect to this flick: there's poetry alongside the action.
Blue_TigerCub14 February 2002
If you're looking for great sci-fi action, ideas, images and effects, you'll definitely enjoy this one.

But be prepared for a convoluted plot - if you're like me you'll be rewinding and watching the film again to make sure you didn't miss anything...and it's well-worth your time to do so; the rich, soulful atmosphere of this cyberpunk world deserves to be explored for more than the film's relatively short duration (under 100 minutes, I believe).

Not unlike most Manga, it's the world that these people inhabit more than the story that really stimulates the senses. This can also be said about the other category that Ghost in the Shell fits, that of cyberpunk, which Ridley Scott's classic Blade Runner first rendered so vividly almost 20 years earlier.

Like the replicants and humans in Blade Runner who ponder the meaning of life in a world where technology can do anything we can do better, our hero this time, Major Kusunagi, finds herself debating the significance of real and 'artificial' existence, in a gorgeously-drawn Hong-Kong-like city in the future.

You see, she herself is neither a human nor a replicant. As an employee of a high-profile law-enforcement agency, she's been fitted with an entirely mechanical body, or "SHELL"; all that remains of her human self is her soul within it - her "GHOST".


The mysterious appearance of the PuppetMaster (who we are led to believe is a hacker who can control people's minds by hacking into their "Ghosts") troubles the Major. It triggers reminders of the conflict between technology and humanity that goes on inside of her - and she's becoming painfully aware that the technology is winning.

So she goes swimming in the harbor at the mercy of her flotation devices, realizing that her metal body would sink and kill her if they failed (the look in her eye hints that she secretly wishes they would). Heck, technology has even taken the fun out of drinking, she laments, her cyber-body can sober her up in seconds at the mere thought of it. It's details like these that give Ghost in the Shell an eerie sense of realism and seriousness, one that plays off neatly with the high-tech action sequences that pepper the plot as it rolls along.

There's a particularly dazzling scene - one of the most BEAUTIFUL scenes in any movie I've EVER seen - a montage of people going about their lives in this urban landscape. It really drives the point home: the imagined future of the film is one that has lost its soul. And further into the montage the images look less like an unfamiliar nightmare-future and more like a very REAL present-day. It's a haunting warning to the viewer that the Major's world may not be too far off our own horizon.

The Major meets her exact counterpart in the 'Puppetmaster': it is not a hacker, but in fact a "Ghost" unlike any other. "It" (neither a he nor a she) was "born in the sea of information". For the first time, technology has actually created a soul - something that is alive. It's fitting that an engraving of the Evolutionary Tree of Life on the wall is destroyed just as the PuppetMaster, an artificial soul born without a body, and the Major, a soul who gave up her body for an artificial one, finally meet.

This is not just another "Blood, Tits 'n' Guts" cartoon for adolescent ravers. It feels more like, "Stanley-Kubrick-meets-The-Matrix".

Try watching Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell side-by-side, you'll probably find that it holds up well - which says a lot, considering that Blade Runner ranks in the 'Top-100' on this site (it ranks #67).
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A hollow shell of a movie
ligertiger21 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Being both an avid Sci-fi and anime fan, I was very eager to see this movie. An animation focused on the close future, where cybernetics and androids thrive, sounds fun.

However unfortunately that is exactly what this film lacked... fun. Firstly we're thrown into some disorientating scenes, of which there is barely any explanation of what is going on. When you do start to get a very slippery grasp on this film, you'll find yourself simply sliding off again, as the movie throws in terminology and conversations which you don't even know the basis of. I would've preferred to have been told what a "ghost" or a "shell" is, and a clear description of the technological world the inhabitants have created for themselves, without having to guess, and without trying to piece together the various fragments of information that are lazily and carelessly thrown out at various intervals.

And, I'm guessing these action scenes are supposed to be riveting yes? Well, personally they were as interesting as watching the grass grow, no emotion, no passion, I just got the sense they were lacking in something so deeply. In all seriousness, I think Pokemon has more interesting action scenes than this.

The plot of this film (plot? there was a plot to this?!), was immensely hollow, not to mention hard to follow. The emergence of an artificial entity known as the Puppet Master causes Major Kusanagi to question her existence, showing as much emotional distress and depth as a slug. At the end, she combines herself with this 'Puppet Master'(after a harrowingly dull fight scene with a tank), with no adequately explained reason. And thus ends this dreadful dreadful movie.

The only good merits I can put on the film are the concepts within it, notably the advanced use of technology, such as, being able to connect with a world wide interface via implants in the brain, which with our ever growing advances in technology could be a reasonable scenario for the future.

However I'm afraid this movie has almost completely destroyed my interest in Sci-fi Anime films, and it frustrates me to hell that this movie has so many positive reviews. Personally, I'd prefer something with much more consistency, than this complete garbage.
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Interesting Themes Mean Nothing Without Proper Execution
DonaldDooD20 July 2014
Ghost in the Shell seems to be as lucky as Blade Runner and Akira, blindsiding its audience with novelty and a false sense of depth. Its one of those films where people love to talk what its "about", but have little to say on how it portrays its themes. They say its "about" conscious, identity, and our dim future...but why should we care?

For me, a film must have strong characters to anchor you to the story. They must be realistic and relateable, so you can understand and emphasize with their experiences. But to call GitS's characters two-dimensional is stretching the definition. The story is so focused on the case, we rarely spend any time with the cast, and thus I couldn't care about their interactions or fate. The main character is especially uninteresting: when she supposedly undergoes a great change at the end of the film, she's just as wooden as before.

The sacrifice of character isn't even worth the sci-fi, cyber mystery thrills. The plot is so bloated with techno-babel its almost incomprehensible. This isn't depth that requires multiple viewings to understand - this is just bad writing. With little emotion attached to the scenes, I barely maintained attention. Only a few action scenes are scattered through the film, and none are worth the wait.

I will concede the animation is pretty good, especially the backgrounds. They're cartoons, but dark, detailed, and realistic. You get a decent sense of this advanced, yet dismal world. If only this quality were in a better film!

Its easy to deride those against this film as people who "just don't get it". I'd say there's nothing important to take away. Its world is barely explored outside of the premise, and the lone conflict between the main character and villain is so bizarre it has no bearing to reality. Imagination and presentation does not equal depth. Ghost in the Shell felt like it needed another 30 minutes to explain things and develop its themes and characters. Its easily one of the worst films I have watched in terms of writing, but at least it looks good, and is a short burn. With the large amount of sci-fi we have access to these days, I wouldn't recommend GitS to anyone.
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Visually stunning and incredibly deep masterpiece
raptors_revenge13 May 2006
It's not often that I see a film and straight away want to watch it again, but that's how I felt about Ghost in the Shell. As one of the most visually stunning anime movies for its time (and to date, in all honesty) and with an incredibly thought provoking story and world, this has to rank as a true masterpiece. Following the story of Motoko Kusanagi and Public Security Section 9 as they search for a criminal known as the puppet master, the film runs through a philosophical gauntlet that makes us consider what it is that actually makes us human.

The superb characterisation in this film, especially of main characters Motoko, Batou, Togusa and Aramaki, makes it a real treat, as you really care about what happens to them as the movie progresses. Also, with a superbly atmospheric soundtrack that accentuates the questioning nature of the film, it is a total experience, not let down by any aspect. As I said above, the animation in this film is beautiful, and I considered it the finest blending of conventional animation with CG animation I'd ever seen, until GitS 2: Innocence and Appleseed, though Appleseed is a different style altogether. Oh, and I know I've accentuated the thought provoking nature of the film above, but it is not simply a philosophical meander, instead being a tightly paced sci-fi thriller, with several intense action sequences that are superbly choreographed.

As you might guess, I absolutely adore this film, having voted it my favourite movie of all time in more than one poll. If you haven't seen it, then do as soon as possible, because I guarantee that it'll blow your mind. A definite 10 star film.
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Great examination of what it is to be human, but minus emotions.
Jeremy Bristol1 June 2001
Ghost has some of the best animation I've ever seen, and the character designs really fit the story better than the usual big-eyed beautiful girls that typically are found in anime (Akira excepted). Unlike most animation, the scenes where computer animation is blended with cel look right (was anyone really impressed with the magic carpet ride in Aladdin?).

Also, it is very thought provoking and philosophical, even quoting from the bible (the "through a glass, darkly" bit, also used in a film by Ingmar Bergman). However, it doesn't have much emotional punch unless you're one of those people who thought The Matrix wasn't just possible but likely. Even liberals are far too conservative and unwilling for change to feel comfortable with having whole parts of their body replaced to become superhuman (there are already a lot of paranoid people at my college worried about how the government will use the human genome project to control their lives or clone them, despite the fact that there won't be any major advancements for many years). The views of individuality are a bit strange, too. Basically, the movie says that we are who we are because of the information stored in our minds, but gives no creedence to the individual ways people process that information (look at autistics). Think of it this way: a robot can have all the information a human can, but when given a choice between equally good things (such as which kind of ice cream to have or which of the seven urinals to use in an empty bathroom), it would prove itself incapable of this simple human trait. Sure, the movie understands that (a "ghost" in this movie is a soul-like entity), but it doesn't really "show" this--the human and partially-human characters feel as unemotional as the computers around them. Still, that's traditional in science fiction--in the Blade Runner director's cut, the replicants (especially Roy Batty) seem more human than Harrison Ford's character.

7/10 for the subtitled version.

The dubbed version is another story. This is absolutely the worst high-budget dub there is--practically on par with the Skuld episodes from Oh My Goddess ("We've--got--to--help--Belldandy!" with very hard and pronounced iambs). On top of that, the sound is so flatly recorded and mixed that you can't understand what's thought and what's spoken (which is very important in this movie). 1/10.
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A great try, but falls short
imaginatus2 August 2001
It's been said that this film is one of the great pieces of sci-fi of the 90's. I would have to say that the movie really wants to be that, but it just doesn't make it.

Mom always told me to put the nice stuff first, so... The movie is visually amazing. The artistry of nearly every element is stunning. First class all the way. The music is compelling and atmospheric.

The main problem is that the writers made the script so focused on being deep and intellectual, they forgot to make it really entertaining. There are none of the touches that make other anime films enjoyable, like comic characters or silly situations. I'm not an anime expert, so I don't know if the dark broodiness is a common theme. But Ghost in the Shell certainly dwells on its attempts at philosophy without a breath. The dialog suffers from this heavy handedness. Most of the characters are constantly babbling like a textbook reading. Few of them come off sounding like people and this makes it hard to care about them. It's really important in an animated film to make the characters believable in the dialog, since visually there will always be a distance.

The real problem with the philosophizing of the movie is that it's not very good. The makers have tried really, really hard to be deep and fascinating, but they just aren't. The topics that the movie tries to deal with are only barely alluded to in a few scenes and the allusions are almost nonsensical. The thing is, people seem to hear statements like "Life perpetuates itself through diversity and this includes the ability to sacrifice itself when necessary. Cells repeat the process of degeneration and regeneration until one day they die, obliterating an entire set of memory and information, only genes remain. Why continually repeat this cycle? Simply to survive by avoiding the weaknesses of an unchanging system." and think to themselves, "Wow, that's really deep." But it's not deep -- it's BS concocted by a hack writer trying to sound deep. Or maybe there is a deep and meaningful idea there, but, if so, it's buried in bad writing. The four sentences above seem to be trying to explain altruism, the survival instinct, and the meaning of life in a nice little nut shell. Good luck.

This part refers only to the English version. To cap off the film's problems, the main character's voice performance is the weakest in the film. Perhaps the filmmakers were shooting for a cold, inhuman tone, but what they got was a lead character who always sounded like she was reading her laundry list.

Watch this movie for a stunning visual ride. But don't expect your life to be changed by it.
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more philosophical claptrap
hav0c19 December 2001
nice graphics, shame about the endless metaphysical claptrap. Imagine the Terminator stopping to ponder the meaning of "soul" and identity just after (or worse, before) the next eagerly awaited violent confrontation. I wouldn't mind if it was *good* philosophy but the drivel spouting from their beautifully drawn mouths made me want to gag and completely ruined this anime for me.
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I know many people will not like my comment...but
nedlee21 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This anime is very slow paced, mostly filled with far too much philosophical conversations between characters - which basically does not mean anything. It tries to make the animation have some depth, but looking into it, I just found it seems to be...silly and too direct to be represent any deep meaning.

We have a artificial intelligence life born in the network. (which claims himself as a live thing, how original) And it merges into a female cyborg who is confused about her identity. (of course, there is absolutely no scene that actually represents her identity crisis - just some vague scenes and her self-descriptions) It is the all plot we get. The anime ends there. Just throwing us some unsolved, not-too-brand-new questions about philosophical ideas and it is over. I just cannot believe why this thing is called a masterpiece.
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An interesting philosophical aspect ruined by a mediocre anime
passassin29 July 2013
Before I start this review, remember I DID watch the subbed version, I did not watch the supposedly inferior English dub with supposedly worse dialogue and voice acting.

Right off I get what is good at of the way. The action, as sparse as it was (About 4 violent scenes that last about 2 minutes each max), is amazing. The opening is one of the coolest scenes I have ever seen. The anime is incredibly well animated, and the character designs are fantastic.

However, the anime has a multitude of problems in its writing. Characters are poorly written, and overly blunt. Ironically, this makes them seem almost robotic. The main character is a great example of this. She has a fitting voice actor choice, but has so poor dialogue it doesn't even matter if she is well voiced or not. It also helps that the lack of emotion in the main character (which is clearly intentional with her character design) would likely be pretty easy to voice act.

Many of the scenes drag at far longer then they should, surprising in such a short movie, and fail to convey the philosophical discussion with any kind of subtly. The important scenes that drive the plot however seem to go so fast (and their not action scenes) that its like they made them last and ran out of budget right before beginning them. Then there is the random scenes with the amazing music showing stills of the cyberpunk world. While the music here was awesome, it seems the only reasons for their existence was to A. Extend the anime long enough to be considered a movie and B. Force feed you that this is an "Artsy" anime that's trying to be deep and meaningful, something it fails at both.

The ending is the worst part in a fairly boring anime. While it ends after an extremely awesome scene, it feels like its has been setting up the anime for an interesting plot twist...only to execute it so badly and explain so little that it feels like that it wasn't even the twist and that actual twist will be reveal in 5-15 which point the movie ends. And I am left stunned that this anime was ever considered a masterpiece. Especially since so little actually happened. I could explain the entire plot in three sentences without skimping on details. (Which I don't of course since putting spoilers in a review ruins the point of writing one)

The poor writing and pacing of the story, and the way it tries to force feed the philosophical nature of the movie's themes causes the movie to be an utter disappointment and laborious experience. Its like they thought "We want to make a movie with philosophical themes, but we don't want to write a good story" causing it to feel like 'Babbies first philosophical movie' instead of 'Interesting and complex cyberpunk movie with philosophical undertones' like it should have been.
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Highly over rated.
koryanpiora30 November 2004
For some reason, anime has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Perhaps in their unending search for "cool", American teens have decided to settle on the strangest form of film and television they could find. Whatever the reason, it's well past time for this fad to end.

"Ghost in the Shell" represents everything wrong with anime. It attempts to be far too philosophical while not really answering any of the questions it half-heartedly asks. It's take on the evolution of man, as cyborgs with souls, is a sad Sci/Fi rendition of Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange". Simultaneously, the action attempting to keep this travesty afloat is slow, boring, and all together unbelievable.

There's a scene where a cyborg babe is fighting a tank. The tank has the ability to demolish the pillars the girl is hiding behind with its main cannon, instead it fires a stream of bullets that merely wear away at the stone. I find it very difficult to believe that in a age of cyber-cameo and machinized people that targeting computers would be so bad that a person, however enhanced, could still outrun bullets. This isn't "The Matrix". This is bad cinema.

Of the dialogue, most is forgettable. However, one line involving a pressure sensor has stuck with me. Apparently, all the characters are clairvoyant and on the same page of any crisis that may be going on.

Why people enjoy this movie is beyond me. The majority of anime is terrible. Normally, I'd feel bad about making a blanket statement like that, but in this case I'm right. There are several animes that are more than amazing ("Akira"), and so it boggles my mind why the subpar ones would gain so much attention.

The worst part is, the movie starts amazingly. A feeling of high tensions fills a room as an invisible assassin slips in. Gun fire, exploding bodies, a short chase, it's all here. From that point on the audience is only presented with dull, superficial action, a plot that really has no context in its own world, and a philosophy a high school student would find elementary.
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I honestly have to say, its a tad over-rated in every area.
NinjaChampion7 April 2002
I'll be blunt. In my opinion, ghost in the shell is one of the most over-rated of all over-rated anime, and unlike other over-rated anime like Gundam and Dragonball, it doesn't even have any fun parts that make it enjoyable even if you can't stand the plot! The problem is, apparently, those that made ghost in the shell thought that by having the movie try to be everything, it would make up for the fact that none of its attributes were all that spectacular.

You want to see weird philosophical anime? Watch "Serial Experiments laine," at least that presents a few semi-original points here and there. You want big gun martial arts action? See a Chow Yun-fat movie, or any action oriented anime that does it right (robotech, gun smith cats, cowboy bebop, etc.)

The other major problem, I found, was that the movie was WAY to much like William Gibson's "Neuromancer." While I realize that all cyberpunk stories are going to sound like neuromancer until somebody does something to get it a bit more mainstream, I still wish cyberpunk movies like this would do a bit more to be original.

Instead of watching this, watch Cowboy Bebop or Serial Experiments Laine. You'll be glad you did.
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