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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell (Japanese title Kokaku Kidotai 攻殻機動隊) (1996 and 1998), a manga by Masamune Shirow, later turned into an anime movie by Mamoru Oshii[?], is considered by many to be a classic example of science fiction in manga and anime. Besides Akira, it is considered one of the best Japanese animations among enthusiasts in Japan but also in many other countries (although a few dissenting purists claim that neither film is really "true" anime).

Set in the 21st century, Ghost in the Shell is superficially a futuristic spy thriller, dealing with the exploits of Motoko Kusanagi, a major in the covert operations organization "Section 9", which specializes in fighting technology-related crime. Kusanagi herself is almost completely machine, a human brain in an artificial body, capable of superhuman feats, and specialized for her job.

The setting of Ghost in the Shell is distinctively cyberpunk similar to that of William Gibson's sprawl trilogy, but compared to Gibson, Shirow is much more interested in the ethical and philosophical ramifications of widespread merging of humanity and technology, the development of artificial intelligence, and an omnipresent computer network, in particular related to human identity and uniqueness. The manga, in particular, tackles these questions head on, as Kusanagi and her colleagues face both external threats and puzzles, and internal conflict over their own nature, being more machines than humans.

The overarching story of the manga (and the only story of the anime movie) is of the hunt for a cyber criminal called "The Puppet Master", real identity unknown, who commits a large number of crimes through a single modus operandi: "ghost hacking", breaking into and taking control of human minds. As the agents of Section 9 start to unravel the mystery of the Puppet Master, it becomes clear that it is no ordinary criminal, but a unique autonomous artificial intelligence project created by, and escaped from, the same government Section 9 serves, and wanting a real body and a human identity. Kusanagi, although initially skeptical, finally agrees to allow the Puppet Master to merge with her own consciousness, sharing her body, in what is no doubt intended to raise even more questions about the nature of human identity in a world where human consciousness is no longer unique.

The manga is also notable for the proliferance of footnotes and commentary by Shirow himself on both the technology and the socio-political background of the setting (in the complete, English language graphic novel edition, these take up more than 30 pages).

The anime movie is a much shortened version of the manga, dealing only with the Puppet Master plot, changing and simplifying it to fit it into 115 minutes of screen time. This compression of the plot is not always entirely successful, and many people find the result superficial and somewhat confusing compared to the manga. However, the movie abounds with visually stunning animation and effects, and a majestic soundtrack. Ghost in the Shell was one of the first anime movies to blend traditional cel animation[?] with computer generated imagery, creating a visual expression that fits the subject matter and setting.

A television series called "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" has been made, and a film sequel, currently called "Innocence: Ghost in the Shell", is in production.

Influence on other movies

The Matrix, a very successful 1999 sci-fi action movie, contains imagery apparently based on this movie (and other anime also). For example, the opening scene with green digits resembles the opening in Ghost in the Shell.

Glossary

External Links and References http://www.productionig.com/Ghost_TV



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