Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Ghost in the Shell (1995 film)
Based on the manga series by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell is the story of a cybernetic public-securities agent who goes on the hunt for a mysterious hacker in a futuristic world where humans and cyborgs live together. Directed by Mamoru Oshii and screenplay by Kazunori Ito, the film is an anime cyberpunk film that explores the idea of humanity in cyborgs as well as stopping someone who wants to wreak havoc on everyone. Featuring the voices of Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, and Iemasa Kayumi. Ghost in the Shell is a visually-sprawling and entrancing film from Mamoru Oshii.
Set in a futuristic Tokyo, the film revolves a cyborg who works for a public-security agency as she is hunts a mysterious hacker wreaking havoc on the entire city. It’s a film that explores a threat to a world where humans, cyborgs, and a hybrid of both live together as they’re being controlled by a mysterious figure. Kazunori Ito’s screenplay is filled with a lot of intrigue and ambiguity where there isn’t much of a plot rather than a cyborg pursuing this mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master (Iemasa Kayumi). The protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka) is hired to lead the pursuit as she is a cyborg that is beginning to wonder if she has any real human qualities as she believes there is something in her head. With the her hybrid partner Batou (Akio Otsuka), Major Kusunagi would pursue mysterious figures who use cloaking devices while they would also uncover a conspiracy involving different government branches as well as who or what might have created this hacker known as the Puppet Master.
Mamoru Oshii’s direction is definitely grand in its presentation to play up to this futuristic world where so much is in control. Aided by animation director Toshihiko Nishikubo, Oshii maintains a look that is unsettling as well as driven by technology where computers and the Internet is a tool for civilization. With the help of production designer Takashi Watabe and art director Hiromasa Ogura in creating this look of futuristic Tokyo that is this mix of a world that’s evolved but has also maintained some aspects of its past while everyone still drives cars and wooden boats in the canals. Still, Oshii play up this sense of growing disorder as it relates to the actions of the Puppet Master as Oshii’s approach to action and suspense is stylized in its usage of wide and medium shots. Notably the opening sequence of Major Kusanagi performing an assassination in a stylistic manner as it play into the sense of mystique and why Major Kusanagi is considered the best.
With the help of cinematography Hisao Shirai and the special effects work of Mutsu Murakami, Oshii creates some gorgeous compositions and shot as well as some mood in the photography and some dazzling effects as it relates to some of the dreams that Major Kusanagi and other cyborgs are dealing with. Notably in how the Puppet Master would hack himself into the body of a cyborg as well as someone who believes he has these things unaware of the false reality he’s living in. The violence is graphic while Oshii also displays some nudity as it relates to Major Kusanagi’s need to make herself invisible against her enemies. The film’s climax as it relates to the encounter with the mysterious Puppet Master would also feature some major revelations into what Major Kusanagi and Batou would discover along with their superiors. Its mixture of suspense, action, and drama would play into this extravagant moment that also raises up the stake of a world that is being controlled with its citizens unaware of what is happening. Overall, Oshii crafts an exhilarating and ravishing film about a cyborg securities officer trying to pursue a mysterious hacker from wreaking havoc on civilization.
Editors Shuichi Kakesu and Shigeyuki Yamamori do excellent work with the editing as it help play into the suspense and action with some unique rhythm cuts as well as some stylish montages for the surreal moments in the film. Sound direction by Kazuhiro Wakabayashi is fantastic for its sound mixing and design to play into the suspense and mood of the film through its sound effects. The film’s music by Kenji Kawai is incredible for its mixture of bombastic traditional Japanese drums and percussions with some electronic pieces that range from somber to intense as it’s a major highlight of the film.
The film’s voice cast is superb for its ensemble as it feature vocal contributions from Kazuhiro Yamaji and Shigeru Chiba as a couple of garbage men, Mitsuru Miyamoto as a mysterious hacker known as Mizuho Daita that Major Kusanagi tracks down early in the film, Tessho Genda as a public official in Chief Nakamura, and Tamio Oki as Major Kusanagi’s superior Chief Aramaki who believes something is up as he would also make some unsettling discoveries. Iemasa Kayumi is brilliant as the mysterious Puppet Master who is trying create chaos through the Internet and to get other cyborgs to do his deeds.
Akio Otsuka is excellent as Batou as Major Kusanagi’s partner with a distinctive white hair cut and strange eyes as someone who is part human yet is tough in his pursuit of criminals but also a man who cares about his partner. Finally, there’s Atsuko Tanaka in an amazing performance as Major Kusanagi as cyborg who is tasked to find the Puppet Master as she deals with her own humanity believing she might have humanistic qualities while becoming concerned with what is really going on as she is also a skilled fighter who will do whatever it takes to complete her mission.
Ghost in the Shell is a spectacular film from Mamoru Oshii. Featuring incredible animation, dazzling visuals, themes of humanity and technology to control the world, and an exhilarating music score. The film is definitely a gripping yet rapturous sci-fi suspense thriller that bends all sorts of genres while anyone who is new to the world of anime can see this as an essential starting point. In the end, Ghost in the Shell is a tremendous film from Mamoru Oshii.
Related: Ghost in the Shell (2017 film)
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