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Ghost in the Shell films and series in chronological order
Arise, Stand Alone Complex and Oshii's dilogy are three different franchise. But the timeline and plot (exept for Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society (2006) ) of each of them allows you to watch these films and series in this chronological order
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- IMDb Rating
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- Release Year
1. Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Border 1: Ghost Pain (2013)
TV-MA | 58 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
In this prequel set one year after the fourth World War, cyborg and hacker extraordinaire Motoko Kusanagi from the military's 501st Secret Unit finds herself wrapped up in the investigation of a devastating bombing.
Directors: Masahiko Murata , Kazuchika Kise | Stars: Maaya Sakamoto , Ikkyû Jaku , Ken'ichirô Matsuda , Tarusuke Shingaki
Alternate version of 1-5 Arise OVAs - Koukaku Kidoutai Arise: Alternative Architecture (2015)
2. Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Border 2: Ghost Whispers (2013)
TV-MA | 57 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
Witness the formation of the legendary Public Security Section 9. When a clandestine organization hacks every car in the city, Kusanagi recruits a lethal team of cyber operatives to clamp down on the chaos and make the city safe again.
Directors: Atsushi Takeuchi , Kazuchika Kise | Stars: Maaya Sakamoto , Ikkyû Jaku , Ken'ichirô Matsuda , Tomoyuki Dan
3. Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Border 3: Ghost Tears (2014)
TV-MA | 55 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
Motoko and Batou work to try to stop a terrorist organization whose symbol is the Scylla. Meanwhile, Togusa investigates a murder of a man who possessed a prosthetic leg manufactured by the Mermaid's Leg corporation.
Director: Kazuchika Kise | Stars: Maaya Sakamoto , Ikkyû Jaku , Ken'ichirô Matsuda , Tarusuke Shingaki
4. Ghost in the Shell: Arise - Border 4: Ghost Stands Alone (2014)
TV-MA | 59 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
When the riot squad starts shooting citizens during the holiday season, the Major and her team must track down a terrorist hacker who operates under the name Fire-Starter.
Directors: Susumu Kudô , Kazuchika Kise | Stars: Maaya Sakamoto , Ikkyû Jaku , Ken'ichirô Matsuda , Tarusuke Shingaki
6. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)
TV-MA | 100 min | Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
Newport-City 2029: Major, an advanced female cyborg, is in charge of the anti-terrorism etc. unit reporting directly to the government. Taking out terrorists and freeing hostages at an embassy doesn't go smoothly. Major investigates why.
Directors: Motonobu Hori , Shinji Itadaki , Kazuchika Kise , Toshiyuki Kôno , Kazuya Nomura | Stars: Maaya Sakamoto , Ken'ichirô Matsuda , Ikkyû Jaku , Kazuya Nakai
Votes: 4,073 | Gross: $0.10M
7. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
TV-MA | 83 min | Animation, Action, Crime
A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
Directors: Mizuho Nishikubo , Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka , Iemasa Kayumi , Akio Ôtsuka , Kôichi Yamadera
Votes: 154,094 | Gross: $0.52M
Alternate 3D-CG version - Kôkaku kidôtai 2.0 (2008) . Live action film based on the same part of the manga - Ghost in the Shell (2017) . Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society (2006) also based on the the same part of the manga, but the year in the plot was changed from 2029 to 2034
8. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005)
TV-MA | 24 min | Animation, Action, Crime
The futuristic adventures of a female cyborg counter intelligence agent and her support team.
Stars: Shirô Saitô , Atsuko Tanaka , Osamu Saka , Mary Elizabeth McGlynn
Season 1 recompilation - Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex - The Laughing Man (2005) . Season 2 recompilation - Kôkaku kidôtai: S.A.C. 2nd GIG - Individual eleven (2006)
9. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (I) (2004)
PG-13 | 100 min | Animation, Drama, Mystery
In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot--one created solely for sexual pleasure--who slaughtered her owner.
Directors: Naoko Kusumi , Mizuho Nishikubo , Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Akio Ôtsuka , Atsuko Tanaka , Tamio Ôki , Kôichi Yamadera
Votes: 39,972 | Gross: $1.04M
10. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (2006 TV Movie)
108 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
A.D. 2034. It has been two years since Motoko Kusanagi left Section 9. Togusa is now the new leader of the team, that has considerably increased its appointed personnel. The expanded new ... See full summary »
Directors: Kenji Kamiyama , Toshiyuki Kôno , Masaki Tachibana , Masayuki Yoshihara | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka , Osamu Saka , Akio Ôtsuka , Kôichi Yamadera
Based on the the same part of the manga as Kôkaku kidôtai (1995) , but the year in the plot was changed from 2029 to 2034. Alternate 3D-CG version - Kôkaku kidôtai S.A.C. Solid State Society 3D (2011)
11. Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 (2020– )
TV-MA | 25 min | Animation, Action, Crime
Hired as a mercenary unit, the former members of Japan's elite Section 9 are faced with the sudden appearance of "Post-Human," a being with tremendous intelligence and physical capabilities.
Stars: Richard Epcar , Mary Elizabeth McGlynn , Melissa Fahn , Dave Wittenberg
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A Beginner’s Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Universe
The Scarlett Johansson version of Ghost in the Shell is being released this Friday, whether we want it or not. It’s been notoriously tricky for Hollywood to successfully adapt anime and manga titles, even if they later get a critical reappraisal (see: Speed Racer, Edge of Tomorrow ). But in the case of a classic franchise like Ghost in the Shell , which most American viewers know from the 1995 Mamoru Oshii film, there’s more of a known quantity to live up to — this is one of the most influential franchises in anime history.
Still, most American moviegoers have only seen Oshii’s film, if that, and Ghost in the Shell, like many anime franchises, exists over multiple films, TV series, and manga that were still going strong as recently as 2015. And the cyborg heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi has been reincarnated in multiple ages, temperaments, and bodies (or lack thereof). In other words, if ScarJo’s take flops, she won’t be the first Major that fans have accused of ruining the series.
The silver lining, of course, is that it’s an excellent excuse to dig into the heady world of Ghost in the Shell. Here’s a quick guide to the essentials to get you started.
The Ghost in the Shell (1989), by Masamune Shirow The manga that kicked off the franchise may surprise first-time readers already familiar with the anime, due to its lighter tone and depiction of the Major. The manga, after all, debuted in the late ’80s, before Japan fell into an extended recession, when the tech boom was still a source of gee-whiz inspiration for sci-fi comic authors and animators. Shirow’s first series follows the episodic adventures of the special-ops security force Section 9, headed by Major Motoko Kusanagi, a tomboyish tough-girl who happens to be 97 percent cyborg.
Shirow is responsible for the technical concepts of cyberbrains, prostheses, and ghost hacking, as well as the “Puppeteer” plot that would serve as the basis for the 1995 film. He writes copious idiosyncratic notes in the margins, fleshing out various ideas more thoroughly for whomever cares, and cracking jokes. He’s also a bit of a lech, and never saw a female character whose crotch he wouldn’t draw in loving close-up. It can be distracting in what is otherwise a densely conceived and entertaining sci-fi procedural. Still, “cute Motoko,” with her silly faces and easygoing fraternal relationship with her colleagues, is a fun variation on her more well-known anime counterpart, swilling beer with abandon, not yet affected by post-bubble ennui. Shirow followed the original series up with Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface in 1997.
Ghost in the Shell (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii Arguably the high point of the franchise, and certainly the most internationally known, Mamoru Oshii’s feature film adaptation took a subplot from Shirow’s manga and turned it into a meditation on consciousness and the philosophy of the self. It’s a bold direction to take with the source material, placing the Major on the brink of an existential crisis, and flipping the manga’s fetishization of her body on its head (but not getting rid of it, heavens, no).
The film’s brilliantly creative action sequences inspired Western filmmakers from the Wachowskis to Steven Spielberg to take note. But Oshii does a lot with character — making a more sensitive figure out of the Major’s cyborg partner Batou, and letting mostly biological Togusa act as a wide-eyed audience surrogate. The real supporting star, however, is the iconic, haunting score by Kenji Kawai , whose main theme elevates the virtuosic opening sequence and halfway-point montage of the city, which is plot-free and dialogue-free but vividly evokes Motoko’s alienation — from the society she lives, and even her own body. This is Ghost in the Shell at its moodiest, and perhaps incidentally, its most successful.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005), directed by Kenji Kamiyama The Major and the crew at Section 9 returned for this alternate-timeline anime series headed by Kenji Kamiyama, who had previously worked on the Patlabor series with Oshii, among others. The series, which spans 52 episodes in total, is a procedural-serial hybrid. Some episodes, labeled “Stand Alone” in the first season, are just that — sci-fi one shots about various scenarios in the cybernetic world of Newport City. The rest are “Complex” episodes, part of an overarching plot — the first season focuses on the “Laughing Man” hacker and his many imitators, the second on a refugee uprising.
For many fans this is the definitive iteration of the franchise, fusing Shirow’s roving, speculative storytelling with Oshii’s more impressionistic, philosophical approach. The animation is a peak example of how to meld CGI and traditional animation — it’s deployed just enough to make those car chases more thrilling and those Fuchikomas more lifelike. The Major herself is not quite the sassy pinup of the manga, nor the haunted soul of the film, but a tough operator who can crack a joke now and then — and whose past is fleshed out in much more detail over multiple episodes. She exists as part of a colorful ensemble, with Togusa and Batou in particular getting more depth and story lines of their own. (There’s also a 2006 Stand Alone Complex movie, Solid State Society , also directed by Kamiyama.)
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), directed by Mamoru Oshii Oshii returned to the franchise nearly a decade after the first film to explore another thread in Shirow’s manga, this one about illegally manufactured sex androids who start murdering their owners. Oshii, master of not giving the people what they want, sets this after the events of the first film, after the Major has (spoiler) fused herself to the Puppet Master and exists more or less full-time in the network. Batou takes the lead — which is great, because Batou is great — but Motoko’s absence is felt sharply, most of all by him.
The animation is a more ambitious CGI hybrid than Stand Alone Complex , and unfortunately, much of it has not aged well. (The CGI is mostly reserved for scenery and vehicles, while the characters remain hand-drawn, giving it a weird video-game feeling at times.) But it also lends itself to some of the film’s more unsettling moments — this is a scarier film than the first Ghost in the Shell , and a sadder one, too. When the Major does make her long-awaited entrance, Oshii intentionally makes it a sadly empty encounter.
Continued viewing: Arise, Sleepless Eye , Patlabor The most recent iteration of the franchise is the 2015 prequel series Arise, which depicts a younger, post-adolescent Motoko meeting the team that would become Section 9 for the first time. It’s more or less based on the 2013 manga series Arise Sleepless Eye, and fan reaction has been mixed at best.
If, however, after an initial tour of the films and the manga, you sense that you’re more of an Oshii fan than a Shirow or Kamiyama fan, then I would recommend checking out the two Patlabor films that Oshii directed prior to his first foray into this franchise. His Ghost in the Shell is such an iconic post-bubble ’90s work, and it’s fascinating to see where his mind was with regard to Japan’s relationship to technology before the recession. Patlabor deals with many of the same themes of artificial intelligence, and has a deeply wonky fascination with infrastructure and politics, but it’s also a brighter, sunnier production with equally impressive animation and action sequences. Fans of Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell will find a lot to love here, including a very familiar and very atmospheric tour through another dilapidated shantytown in another hypermodern vision of urban Japan. It’s ghosts all the way down.
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Ghost In The Shell: All Of The Anime Movies & Seasons, Ranked
Ghost In The Shell is one of the best-known anime series in recent memory. With all its screen adaptations, which ones stand out as the best?
In private life, he is Masanori Ota, but fans know him by his pen name, Masamune Shirow, the artist behind Ghost in the Shell. Masamune created the manga between 1989 and 1990. In the decades since, there have been a couple of live-action movies and several anime versions. There have been so many, in different animation styles and done by varying studios, that it's tough to keep track.
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The following list condenses all of the anime movies and series with the Ghost in the Shell label in one handy place. As is the case with some anime, some series have been edited into full-length movies, or broken into parts that make it more like a miniseries. In these cases, viewers can choose which version to watch. Here's a ranking to help determine which are most worth a fan's time.
7 Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 (2020– )
The latest entry in the franchise is a Netflix original creation, and uses CGI that makes the characters look like action figures. The animation seems to be the main point of contention in this version; however, fans also seem disappointed by the lack of anything new. On the other hand, viewers are impressed by the voice acting work of the SAC cast, which was brought in to reprise their roles.
The plot revolves around the same team from Section 9 in the original film. This time, though, they're working as a mercenary force, tracking some kind of enhanced called a "post-human". The characters aren't exactly like their vintage counterparts, but there's still enough nostalgia here for long-time fans.
6 Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)
This movie released after the Alternative Architecture installment, and is intended to be a direct sequel. The setting is the same, post-WW4 Tokyo, and the Major is leading the team that makes up Section 9. They seem to take on a mercenary role again, as Mokoto acts as a bodyguard for a nervous public security official.
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Her teammates continue to do detective work while Mokoto stays at the center of the action. This movie features some great fight sequences and a lovely animation style. However, fans didn't appreciate the amount of exposition and political intrigue that they had to sit through, putting this lower on the list.
5 Ghost in the Shell Arise: Alternative Architecture (2015)
This is actually a series of four episodes combined into one four-hour long movie. A year ago this would have been an arduous watch, but the Snyder Cut and a year of watching everything at home have normalized this kind of run time. This version also includes an extra episode, tying in the storyline to the movie that came out in the same year.
This series of prequels to the original film tells fans more about the years immediately following World War 4. They're also more character-driven than the other GitS media. Some segments focus in on certain characters, in particular Mokoto. Fans that like lore and backstory will appreciate this the most.
4 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (2006)
Despite the numerous spinoffs and prequels that sprung from the original GitS, there are only two that are direct sequels to the original movie. This series is one of them and takes place two years after Mokoto's supposed death in the field of duty.
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Batou is now leading the team. During one of his missions, he has a mysterious encounter with the Major herself, who tells him to stay away from the Solid State Society. The plot is a convoluted one and basically copies the same story as the first movie. These factors put fans of the classic version off.
3 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
The first direct sequel to the original 1995 film, Innocence, released almost ten years later. Until Solid State Society came out in 2006, it was the only installment in the franchise that made any attempt to follow Mokoto into the net. The story revolves around Batou and Togusa investigating a series of murders that involve a shady type of android.
Mokoto makes a few quick appearances, and plays a pivotal role in the plot despite her few lines. It's the most technically accomplished entry of the franchise. CGI and vintage animation merge almost perfectly, even though the film is almost 20 years old.
2 Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005)
Kôkaku kidôtai: Stand Alone Complex consists of 52 episodes that released between 2002 and 2005. This prequel to the 1995 movie recreates the gritty world of police work combined with a cyberpunk aesthetic . These themes are a nod to the movie that inspired Ghost in the Shell ; the iconic Bladerunner . That, along with the use of the vintage movie's animation style, makes it the most popular serialized version of the GitS franchise.
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The immersive soundtrack by Yoko Kanno also deserves a mention. Although it's less traditional than the Japanese hymns from the first movie, it resonated with viewers and complemented the setting and tone. Some episodes deviate from the main storyline, and whether or not viewers enjoy that is a matter of individual opinion.
1 Ghost in the Shell (1995)
The original and still the best, the 1995 film still gets a lot of love, especially as viewers recognize the influence it had. It's not just about Mokoto's existential crisis or a suspiciously convoluted criminal chase. It's about humans and machines, and how they interact and live within the same society.
Not only did this movie ride the cyberpunk wave, but it was part of the anime invasion of the mid-1990s. Other heavy hitters during this time included Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Sailor Moon . People who like cyberpunk or enjoy movies like The Matrix should see this movie just to understand the origins of their favorite genre.
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What follows is my completely subjective ranking of the various envisionings of the worlds of Ghost in the Shell ( recently voted #1 cyberpunk anime by readers of Otaku USA ), from worst to best. And I’d take “worst” with a grain of salt, here. Even at its least-engaging, I’ll take most versions of Ghost in the Shell before a lot of the other stuff that’s out there.
7. Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2013-2015)
When Arise came out, Ghost in the Shell had already been through three films, two TV arcs, and a slew of novels and games in addition to Masamune Shirow’s manga. At that point, creating a new origin story for Kusanagi and her compatriots, with new voice actors stepping into these roles was definitely a risk, and unfortunately, it was one that didn’t quite pay off.
One of the reasons I mentioned politics and the Japanese self-defense forces in the intro is that Ghost in the Shell has always been a very political beast. Masamune Shirow’s original manga deals heavily with political machinations both geopolitical as well as those internal to Japan. While Arise generates some dramatic action scenes, having the core of the story be about the squabbles between different corporations and government agencies drastically lowers the stakes since it’s so hard to care which side wins in the end. And it’s not just the internal power struggles that threaten to derail Arise . I really hate the term “technobabble” because it’s too often used by people who haven’t paid close enough attention to what’s going on, but that’s probably the best term to describe Arise ’s take on its technological future.
Another reason Arise comes in last here is due to how it was released. It was the first Ghost in the Shell OVA series , released in four increments in 2013 and 2014. The series was then recut into a television series called Alternative Architecture , changing the chronology of the events and adding additional material (which later was released in Japan as an OVA of its own). Surprisingly, given the popularity of Ghost in the Shell in general, Alternative Architecture never received a physical release in North America (although the first four OVAs did), perhaps indicating a lack of enthusiasm over the series.
I’m going to throw Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie into the list at this point as well, since it’s really a continuation of the Arise series and doesn’t stand alone, as it were. In my day job working in IT, I’m careful to never name anything that I’m going to be keeping around for a while with the tag “new.” I’ve had to work with mainframe databases over two decades old that are still called “new” just because what they were replacing at the time just happened to be older. The chosen name for the movie finale for the Arise saga smacks of desperation more than anything else, as if they’re trying to flee the baggage of the rest of the series but can’t really come up with anything better.
6. Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (2020-)
If Arise was a risk, with its new take on familiar characters, SAC_2045 , the most recent take on Ghost in the Shell , is like revisiting old friends. We’re back to the characters of the Stand Alone Complex chronology and the voices that we’ve been familiar with for nearly 25 years. Unfortunately, this familiarity means that some of the differences present in SAC_2045 are even more jarring.
Yes, I have to talk about the animation. Sigh. The animation. Ghost in the Shell has always dabbled in 3D CG animation, from the very first film to the opening credits of the first Stand Alone Complex season. However, SAC_2045 is the first full CG Ghost in the Shell series, and unfortunately it looks shockingly subpar. While there aren’t any laugh-out-loud CG errors like in the recent Berserk series, the whole thing seems too smooth and unfinished, both with regard to the characters and their environments. Camera movements sometimes seem unnatural and too languid, as if they’re trying to pad out a required running time, and the editing choices are occasionally baffling.
However, I can overlook a lot if the story and writing are good. I mentioned the problem that science fiction can have with getting overtaken by history. In the case of SAC_2045 , with its references to the rich “one percent” and an episode titled “EDGELORD – The Revolution of the 14-year-olds,” it seem like the series is trying too hard to be “current,” which is not where science fiction should be aiming, especially for a series ostensibly set 25 years in the future. Some of the other Ghost in the Shell series have shown how to tackle issues that are both contemporary and timeless, something to which SAC_2045 should perhaps pay a bit more attention.
In spite of these reservations, and although the first half of the story takes too long to really get going, by the end of episode 12 they have begun to construct a really engaging mystery. I’m genuinely curious to see where it’s headed and want to see more, something I didn’t expect to find myself saying after the first couple episodes. There’s still another half of the series left to go, though, and I’m not entirely convinced they won’t blow it. However, I really want it to do well, and if it sticks the landing I could even see SAC_2045 moving up a place or two if I were to revisit this list later on.
5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society (2006)
Since I threw The New Movie into the ranking alongside the rest of Arise , you may be wondering why Solid State Society gets its own entry, since it’s the film that followed the first two Stand Alone Complex seasons. Although SSS falls into a bit of the same trap that Arise does, getting a bit too self-satisfied with its own political complexities, it does exist as its own thing rather than as a mere extension of the previous Stand Alone Complex escapades.
One of the strengths of SSS is that it demonstrates some genuine character development after the end of the 2nd Gig series. Kusanagi has left Section 9 and has ventured out on her own. Without the Major to rein him in, Batou has become something of a lone wolf (a development that we can also see in Innocence ). Of all the characters, Togusa is perhaps the most interesting here, as he develops into a leader and manager of the sometimes-unruly Section 9. Although Aramaki is still at the top, it becomes Togusa who holds the team together and gives them direction on a daily basis. Even rewatching it after all this time, I still get a little emotional during the hallway scene with Togusa and his daughter. It’s a good film that can make you care about a character in this way. I just wish other aspects of SSS held together as well. It’s not that it’s a bad film, but it doesn’t have much of substance to say, which is a bit of a letdown following the phenomenal second season of Stand Alone Complex .
4. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (first season) (2002-2003)
When the first season of Stand Alone Complex came out in 2002, we had only seen a tiny bit of Ghost in the Shell in animated form. There had been Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film, of course. There was also the animated introduction and interstitials for the PS1 Ghost in the Shell game in 1997. (It is still the animation that comes closest to replicating the look and feel of Masamune Shirow’s manga.) There was so much more in the Ghost in the Shell world yet to be explored .
Stand Alone Complex provided a great point of entry to a re-envisioning of a near-future world that was a bit brighter and perhaps more optimistic than Oshii’s film had been. Director Kenji Kamiyama had been working in the anime industry for over a decade when he got the chance to helm SAC , his first major work as a director. However, Kamiyama proved himself more than up to the challenge, giving the series a lighter flavor that could appeal to a wider audience than the previous feature film. Still, Kamiyama remained indebted to Oshii’s approach, saying: “The Ghost in the Shell TV series inherited many aspects from Director Oshii. I didn’t try to distinguish myself from Director Oshii, Instead, I totally tried to copy him.”
Rather than focus on one aspect of the Ghost in the Shell world, Stand Alone Complex threw a little bit of everything into the mix – a little bit of thriller, a bit of philosophy, some literary allusions, of course geopolitics, and even a taste of futuristic romance. For everything that SAC was trying to do, and given Kamiyama’s relative directorial inexperience at the time, the series shouldn’t come together as well as it does. I really wish they had given Kusanagi some pants in this series, though. She must be cold.
3. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
The tagline shown on one of the movie posters for Ghost in the Shell read “People love machines in 2029 AD.” Personally, I’m excited. That’s just a few more years away. I’m sure that must have sounded pretty futuristic back in 1995, though. I have a feeling that we won’t see a world like we see in the film in another nine years, but of course anything could happen.
The original Ghost in the Shell may be the single film I’ve seen the most often. It’s one of those that I’m always game to watch because I’ll find myself picking up on some detail that I’d missed before. In it, Mamoru Oshii transforms Masamune Shirow’s cyberpunk romp into a far more somber affair that trims away the fat for a reflection on the nature of the self.
When I put it like that, it seems amazing that the film has been as popular as it was. For decades the fact that Ghost in the Shell topped the Billboard sales charts in the US has been a selling point both in the US and Japan. (I still see this fact repeated in Japanese on occasion to this day.) However, the success of Ghost in the Shell wasn’t a historical fluke. Even if the director and other members of the creative staff didn’t have an international audience in mind when they were working on it, the producers certainly had their eyes on markets outside Japan.
In 2008 a revamped version called Ghost in the Shell 2.0 was released. This new version took the original and altered certain scenes to redo them with 3D CG animation, which unfortunately doesn’t mesh well with many of the surrounding scenes. It also reworked the entire color palette of the film, giving it an amber hue rather than the green of the original. I think there were two main reasons for this — the color change tied the film aesthetically closer to some of Oshii’s subsequent work like Avalon , while simultaneously distancing it from The Matrix , which had taken a lot of the film’s aesthetics and even duplicated a few scenes.
2. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
Although Innocence appears here in the penultimate position, it’s probably my favorite piece of Ghost in the Shell media. Like the 1995 film, it adapts some of the events of Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but it puts a completely different spin on things. Rather than a futuristic police procedural, it becomes an investigation into longing and what it means to be human. The plot of the film may depict Section 9 trying to solve a series of murders, but the film is really about a lonely man searching for the only person who ever meant anything to him, and how relationships can transcend species and technology. It’s deep, man.
At least, that’s my take on things. I can also empathize with those who have no patience for director Oshii’s various philosophical meanderings and literary allusions. I can completely understand those who would want to throw the word “pretentious” at this film, although I’d strongly disagree. It’s not just pretending to have great significance, it does actually have the depths of meaning it thinks it does. It’s not trying to be accessible, and that’s what I love about it. I could go on and on, using Innocence as a jumping off point to engage with all manner of philosophical speculation, to plumb the depths of knowledge and weave new tapestries of thought. See, this film gets me all worked up.
Although I think every film should stand on its own and not require the knowledge of what might have happened in other media, I also have to recommend the novel After the Long Goodbye by Masaki Yamada as a way of gaining even further insight into Batou’s character leading up to the events in Innocence . Although there are other Ghost in the Shell novels (including a couple of late-90s ones by Akinore Endo that never made it into English and a trio of Stand Alone Complex ones by scriptwriter Junichi Fujisaku that did), this one is definitely the best, even if you didn’t necessarily care for Innocence .
1. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – 2nd Gig (2004-2005)
The second Ghost in the Shell TV season is a perfect summation of everything that can go right with the series. Unlike the first season, film director Oshii was a part of this arc, credited with providing the “story concept.” Although all of the other instances of Stand Alone Complex can be hit or miss, 2nd Gig is consistently powerful throughout, with nary a misstep. Innocence may be my favorite, but 2nd Gig does such a masterful job of balancing action, political intrigue, and techno-philosophy in a watchable way that I had to put it at the top of my list.
One of my critiques with SAC_2045 is that it tried to include contemporary references that made the series actually seem somewhat outdated in a future setting. 2nd Gig is a great example of how to engage with current issues while still remaining timeless in a way. As with Solid State Society dealing with the issue of an aging population, 2nd Gig dealt with another issue putting pressure on Japanese civil and political systems — that of immigration. In a way, moreso than many other issues, this strikes at the heart of both Japan and anime itself. As Hiroki Azuma put it, the “very affection [for Japanese images] is now considered a necessary condition for being an otaku.” But what makes something “Japanese”? Anime is a fantastic medium for thinking through this very question, and for imagining about how to deal with the crises of immigration and refugees that will unfortunately probably become even more commonplace due to the instability fostered by global warming. (And if you find how 2nd Gig treats such topics to be interesting, I’d highly suggest that you check out the third season of Psycho-Pass , a great cyberpunk series that shares a lot of commonalities with Ghost in the Shell , even though it doesn’t get nearly the amount of attention.)
There’s an impulse here to say something like “no matter what you pick, Ghost in the Shell is great, and you can’t go wrong!” but that’s not entirely the case. Although SAC_2045 is the most recent series, if you’re unfamiliar with this near-future cyberpunk world I can’t recommend starting there. Try something like the 1995 film or the first season of Stand Alone Complex and work your way up from there.
Brian Ruh is the author of Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii , and has been watching Ghost in the Shell in its various permutations for nearly a quarter of a century.
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Ghost in the Shell
1995, Action/Sci-fi, 1h 25m
What to know
A stunning feat of modern animation, Ghost in the Shell offers a thoughtful, complex treat for anime fans, as well as a perfect introduction for viewers new to the medium. Read critic reviews
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Ghost in the shell photos.
In this Japanese animation, cyborg federal agent Maj. Motoko Kusanagi (Mimi Woods) trails "The Puppet Master" (Abe Lasser), who illegally hacks into the computerized minds of cyborg-human hybrids. Her pursuit of a man who can modify the identity of strangers leaves Motoko pondering her own makeup and what life might be like if she had more human traits. With her partner (Richard George), she corners the hacker, but her curiosity about her identity sends the case in an unforeseen direction.
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Anime
Original Language: Japanese
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Producer: Mitsuhisa Ishikawa , Ken Iyadomi , Ken Matsumoto , Yoshimasa Mizuo
Writer: Kazunori Itô
Release Date (Streaming): Dec 15, 2010
Runtime: 1h 25m
Production Co: Production I.G., Bandai Visual Company, Kôdansha
Cast & Crew
Major Motoko Kusanagi Voice
William Frederick Knight
Chief Aramaki Voice
Project 2501 , Puppet Master Voice
Chief Nakamura Voice
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The original Ghost in the Shell is iconic anime, and a rich philosophical text
The new live-action film bombed because it has the franchise’s shell but not its ghost.
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Share All sharing options for: The original Ghost in the Shell is iconic anime, and a rich philosophical text
In preparation for the new live-action Ghost in the Shell movie , I recently returned to the 1995 anime film on which it’s based, and I couldn’t help but think of two things: The Matrix , and philosopher Daniel Dennett.
The link to The Matrix is obvious enough. Before making that movie, the Wachowskis showed Ghost in the Shell to producer Joel Silver as an example of what they wanted to accomplish with their non-animated action sequences. It’s not an adaptation, but The Matrix ended up borrowing heavily from both the structure and visuals of Ghost in the Shell.
As for Dennett , the movie dwells on many of the same questions and ideas about the nature of consciousness with which Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University, has spent the better part of his career engaging. As a recent New Yorker profile of Dennett notes , he believes that consciousness is “something like the product of multiple, layered computer programs running on the hardware of the brain.” It’s an evolutionary process, purely physical in nature, in which sensory information and other biological functions combine and grow correspondingly more complex over time. There’s no mystery — just complexity.
The anime Ghost in the Shell finishes with a protracted shootout against a giant robot tank that looks like a spider — but the true climax is a lengthy monologue in which the villain, a sentient computer program, explains how he unexpectedly gained self-awareness, and laments the lack of basic life systems like death and reproduction. He finishes the speech by asking the movie’s protagonist, the cybernetically enhanced security officer Major Kusanagi, to merge with him, allowing for an evolutionary procreation. It’s a Dennett-esque foray into both the emergence of the self and its evolutionary perpetuation.
These are the sorts of consciousness-expanding questions that have animated the Ghost in the Shell franchise for more than two decades. The world of Ghost in the Shell is part futuristic action movie and part philosophy lecture, in which artfully constructed animated action sequences serve as vehicles for investigations into the nature of consciousness. It’s a showcase for what top-notch animation can do — one that the new movie never quite manages to match.
By positing a world in which people merge with machines, Ghost in the Shell examines what makes us fundamentally human
The Ghost in the Shell franchise began as a Japanese manga series in the late 1980s, but it was the 1995 movie that built its international reputation.
The film arrived at a time when anime was gaining global reach, and it highlighted the form’s strengths: richly detailed art, high-concept sci-fi world building, stunningly executed action sequences, and a willingness to deal in both adult themes and content.
For many, including me, Ghost in the Shell was a gateway to the wider world of Japanese animation, one that blended the appeal of comic books, movies, and science fiction — in particular, the sort of noir-tinged cyberpunk that Western writers like William Gibson had popularized in the 1980s.
The film introduced the characters and ideas that would become the foundation for the franchise. Those characters included the franchise’s protagonist, Major Kusanagi, a human-machine hybrid whose construction is shown during the film’s opening credits , and her colleagues Batou, a gruff, tough cyborg with enhanced eyes and a shock of white hair, and Togusa, a newbie officer who is probably the closest thing the movie offers to an audience surrogate. They all work for Section 9, a shadowy government security agency run by the aging Chief Aramaki, another character who would recur throughout the series. The story follows Section 9’s pursuit of a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master who, in a world of computer-enhanced individuals, can hack humans as well as machines.
Director Mamoru Oshii wanted a movie that portrayed the “influence and power of computers” by looking at how that influence and power might evolve over time, and the film posits a near future in which humans have begun to merge with machines. Limbs are upgraded with weaponry and other special functions; eyes are replaced with powerful computer-enhanced sensors; minds and memories are expanded via external storage technology.
The inevitable question that arises from all this, of course, is how much artificial enhancement and replacement can a person undergo and still remain fundamentally human?
That’s where the concept of the “ghost” comes in. A ghost is a person’s deep self, his or her essence, which remains intact even as one’s physical body becomes more and more integrated with computers and machines. The name is a reference to philosopher Arthur Koestler’s 1967 book The Ghost in the Machine , a treatise on the nature of consciousness whose title was borrowed from another philosopher, Gilbert Ryle, who coined the phrase to describe the notion of consciousness as somehow apart and separate from biological processes.
Koestler’s book took up the notion that humanity’s existence might have been a mistake , an evolutionary error, and dealt with humanity’s propensity to violence and awareness of the inevitability of death — all ideas that would come into play, in various ways, throughout Ghost in the Shell’s story.
This thematic richness would come to define the franchise — and occasionally weigh it down, especially under Oshii. His 2004 sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence , is, in theory, another action-noir in which Batou and Togusa, now partners, investigate a series of murders involving robotic geishas that have been implanted with humanlike artificial intelligence.
If anything, the Ghost in the Shell sequel is even more densely packed with philosophical references than the original: The film’s questioning, ponderous dialogue name-checks French philosopher René Descartes and John Milton, among others, and includes scenes in which robot replicas of the two detectives spout lines like, “The 15th century man-as-machine theory has been resurrected by cyberbrains.”
In an action scene near the end, the script winks at its own proclivities when Batou, facing an army of killer geisha-bots, grumbles, “Look, this ain’t the time to get philosophical — I’m running low on ammo here.” In the world of Ghost in the Shell , though, it’s always time to get philosophical.
The sprawling Ghost in the Shell franchise is linked by a commitment to science fiction world building and philosophical inquiry
It’s not necessary to catch every academic reference to enjoy the Ghost in the Shell series. The action sequences are reliably inventive and thrillingly staged, with blocking that is better choreographed than many live-action films. The animation by Production IG, one of Japan’s most accomplished animation houses (if you’ve seen the animated sequence from Kill Bill, you’ve seen their work), is consistently stunning, particularly in the way it blends environmental details. New Port City, the fictional Asian city where the series is set, is based partially on Hong Kong, and with its mix of grime and tech, modern mega-architecture, and busy street markets, it has the feel of a real place. It’s an aging metropolis built up in layers, over time, the urban counterpart to Dennett’s theory of consciousness.
The technology, too, is intricate and fascinating: Robotically enhanced bodies expand and reshape themselves, revealing fingers made for ultra-fast typing and eyes that jack into digital sensor arrays. The design work is busy and functional, almost industrial at times, as if designed for use rather than stylishness. Watching the series today, some of the choices can come across as a bit strange, in particular the reliance on bundles of wires for connectivity. But that’s part of the series’ charm: Even in more recent incarnations, it’s a vision of a future that is, in some sense, a perpetual extension of the technology of 1995.
Those later incarnations include the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex , which ran for two seasons starting in 2002. Written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama , the show was an extension of the first film that also featured the Major, Batou, Togusa, and Aramaki. Although it was more of a traditional sci-fi action procedural than the film that inspired it, it nonetheless dealt in similar concepts and questions about computer networks, identity, consciousness, and reality. The first season sent the team on the trail of another mysterious hacker, the Laughing Man, while the second pitted them against a terrorist group called the Individual Eleven, which spread a virus through the posting of a fake terrorist manifesto. (Both seasons were also recut and re-edited into feature-length movies titled The Laughing Man and Individual Eleven, respectively, that focused more narrowly on the season-long plot arcs.)
More recently, the franchise has been essentially rebooted in a series dubbed Ghost in the Shell: Arise , a sequence of five original video animations (essentially hour-long mini movies) that were later recut into a 10-episode TV series, and which connected with the feature-length 2015 film Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie . Arise takes place in an alternate continuity but has many of the same elements as the rest of the franchise, including the main cast of characters (albeit with new designs) and animation by Production IG.
What links all the various iterations is a commitment to science fiction world building and philosophical inquiry. At every turn, the series offers a reminder that animation can do more than comedy and kid stuff — the realm in which it is most often found in the United States — and that at its best, it’s also capable of ideas and action, drama and intellectual engagement, mind-blowing imagery and stories to match.
Sadly, the big-budget, live-action reboot doesn’t live up to its animated predecessors. Sure, it’s a visual marvel, often faithfully replicating key scenes and images from the original film, and sure, there’s still a lot of talk about ghosts and souls and what it means to be a human. But the characters themselves are all empty husks — there’s not a single identifiable personality in the film — and both the visuals and the dialogue lack the deeper context of the original. The search for the idea of a soul has been streamlined and Westernized into a simple quest for individual identity and memory.
The result is a movie that’s all borrowed parts, with no depth or connection. The layers never quite come together to form something more. It wants to be a movie about the search for consciousness, but, unlike its source material, it doesn’t have a soul.
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- View history
The Ghost in the Shell universe is an expansive and complex one, with many characters featuring across the Films, TV series, Novels, and Manga. Each series has its different universe.
It should be noted that in order to list all characters and their positions or roles in the universe, it is necessary to include information that is very relevant to the plots of the various Ghost in the Shell media, information which can be considered as spoilers.
- 1.1 Daisuke Aramaki
- 1.2 Motoko Kusanagi
- 1.6 Ishikawa
- 2.1 Yoko Kayabuki
- 2.2 Chief Cabinet Secretary Takakura
- 3.1 Cabinet Intelligence Service
- 3.2 Kazundo Gouda
- 3.3 Unnafiliated
- 3.4 The Laughing Man
- 3.5 The Puppet Master
- 3.6 Dejima Refugee Coalition
- 3.7 Hideo Kuze
Public Security Section 9 [ ]
Daisuke aramaki [ ].
Chief of Section 9. A strict but very intelligent man, Aramaki has many connections and a great amount of political power. He is a personal friend of Kubota, also very powerful man in the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Army (JGSDA), also commonly referred as the GSDA.
Motoko Kusanagi [ ]
Known by many names, but most commonly as the "Major", Motoko Kusanagi is possibly the most prolific character in the Ghost in the Shell universe. A deadly and fearless soldier at close and ranged combat, Kusanagi can master all weapons, material or virtual, in part due to her total control over her prosthetic body. Throughout the multiples GITS universes, there are different origins to the fact that Kusanagi has been fully prosthetic from a very young age.
Aside from Aramaki, Togusa is the only member of section 9 that is still fully human (disregarding his mandatory cyberbrain ). Togusa is a clever thinker and skilled agent, and is famed for his use of an 'outdated' revolver.
A large and imposing figure, Batou is a combat master and very skilled in the field. In the second series of Stand Alone Complex , it is alluded to that Batou was a ranking member of the military Rangers before he joined Section 9. He's the member who knows Major the most outside of professional duty.
Section 9's explosives expert, Borma is recognised by his bald head, prosthetic eyes, and large stature. It is alluded to that Borma used to work for the Japanese Self Defence Force before he joined Section 9.
Ishikawa [ ]
Though he tends to avoid combat situations, Ishikawa provides excellent logistics and hacking prowess, giving invaluable aid to his fellow officers on the ground.
A silent and reclusive character, Pazu is rumoured to have been a Yakuza gangster before he joined Section 9, as well as having a reputation with women. He's Section 9's jack-of-all-trades.
Section 9's ace sniper, Saito has a prosthetic eye which can interface with the world's satellite networks and allow him to make incredibly accurate shots with firearms.
One of "The Rookies" of section 9, Azuma joins the team during the events of 2nd Gig.
Like Azuma, Yano joins section 9 during the selection of new blood in 2nd Gig.
A rare prototype bioroid , Proto was a section 9 technician before he became one of the team in 2nd Gig.
Government of Japan [ ]
Yoko kayabuki [ ].
Female Prime Minister of Japan at the time of GITS SAC 2nd Gig, Yoko Kayabuki is more than just a pretty face in the government. Reinstating Section 9 at the beginning of 2nd Gig proves to be her first move in a tough battle of political wits over the course of the series.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takakura [ ]
A very powerful politician in the Kayabuki government. A sexist and pro-American conservative politician, he underestimates the potential of Prime Minister Kayabuki and plots with Kazundo Gouda
Army Intelligence Officer and former colleague of Aramaki. Helps Section 9 by telling Aramaki of government secrets.
Antagonists [ ]
Cabinet intelligence service [ ], kazundo gouda [ ].
A very shady bureaucrat, Kazundo Gouda is most recognizable for his horribly scarred face and hard-to-read name. The leader of the Cabinet Intelligence Service , Gouda proves to be a hard man to handle for Section 9, always slipping in the shadows with his plans and intriguing scenarios.
Unnafiliated [ ]
The laughing man [ ].
The main antagonist of the first season of Stand Alone Complex , the Laughing Man is an extremely talented hacker with strong social and political motives. Throughout the story, the Laughing Man is shown to be able to hack multiple video streams simultaneously, entirely hijacking active cyberbrains, and even editing what people can see.
The Puppet Master [ ]
Also known as Project 2501 , the Puppet Master is an important character in the Ghost in the Shell manga by Masamune Shirow, and the 1995 Ghost in the Shell film by Mamoru Oshii. The Puppet Master is an experimental Artificial Intelligence program designed by Section 6 .
In the Stand Alone Complex series, Hideo Kuze is The Puppet Master's supposed predecessor, plotting circumstances resulting in its creation in Solid State Society.
Dejima Refugee Coalition [ ]
Hideo kuze [ ].
A new character introduced in Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, the mysterious cyborg known by the pseudonym Hideo Kuze is a deserter of the Japanese Self-Defense Force and a former Individual Eleven terrorist member. Serving as an important antagonist during the second season, Kuze is seen as a legendary heroic figure by the refugees living in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Unbeknownst to officials and almost everyone, he shares a secret relationship with the Major .
- 1 Motoko Kusanagi
- 2 Laughing Man
- 3 Public Security Section 9 (organization)
– Entertainment Analysis and Reviews
Ghost in the Shell: Exploring the Legacy of a Seminal Anime Classic
Ghost in the Shell is a seminal anime movie released in 1995, directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The movie is widely regarded as a landmark work in the anime and sci-fi genres, and has had a significant influence on subsequent works in those fields. The movie’s story takes place in a futuristic society where cybernetic technology has become ubiquitous, and follows a cyborg policewoman named Major Motoko Kusanagi as she investigates a hacker known as the Puppet Master. Along the way, the movie explores themes related to identity, consciousness, and societal structures, and features a blend of action, philosophy, and introspection. Despite its initial mixed reception, Ghost in the Shell has gone on to become a cult classic, and its influence can be seen in a wide range of anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk works.
Ghost in the shell characters, production history and reception, legacy and influence, visual and audio elements, legacy and impact, ghost in the shell 1995 explanation.
The plot of Ghost in the Shell revolves around a police investigation into a hacker known as the Puppet Master, who has the ability to hack into human brains and manipulate memories. The protagonist of the movie is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman who works for the Section 9 division of the police force. Along with her team, which includes the hacker and former soldier Batou, Kusanagi attempts to track down the Puppet Master and uncover its true identity and motives.
The movie is notable for its complex and philosophical exploration of themes related to technology, identity, and consciousness. Throughout the story, Kusanagi grapples with the question of what it means to be human, given that she herself is a cyborg with a mostly artificial body and brain. Meanwhile, the Puppet Master challenges traditional notions of selfhood and agency, leading Kusanagi to question her own motivations and allegiances.
Overall, Ghost in the Shell is a thought-provoking and visually stunning movie that blends action, philosophy, and science fiction. Its themes and ideas continue to resonate with audiences today, and the movie remains a touchstone for fans of anime and sci-fi.
Some key elements of the plot and themes of Ghost in the Shell include:
- A future society where cybernetic technology has become ubiquitous, leading to questions about the nature of humanity and the relationship between technology and the self
- The character of Major Motoko Kusanagi, who grapples with questions about identity, consciousness, and the nature of the self as a cyborg with a mostly artificial body and brain
- The hacker known as the Puppet Master, who challenges traditional notions of selfhood and agency and raises questions about the nature of consciousness and free will
- The relationship between technology, memory, and identity, as characters’ memories are manipulated and controlled by advanced computer systems
- Major Motoko Kusanagi – A cyborg who works for the government agency Section 9. Major is a strong-willed and determined character who is skilled in combat and hacking. Her primary motivation is to complete her assigned missions and protect society from cybercrimes, but she also grapples with questions about her own identity and place in the world.
- Batou – A fellow cyborg who works alongside Major in Section 9. Batou is a loyal and dependable character who is often used for his strength and combat skills. He is protective of his teammates and shares a close bond with Major.
- Togusa – The only human member of Section 9. Togusa is a detective who brings a unique perspective to the team. He is highly analytical and often serves as the voice of reason, questioning the morality of some of Section 9’s actions.
Each of these characters plays a critical role in the movie’s story and themes, and they are all depicted with a level of depth and nuance that is rare in anime.
Ghost in the Shell was directed by Mamoru Oshii and produced by Production I.G, with a screenplay by Kazunori Itō. The movie was based on the manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, which was first published in 1989. Oshii’s adaptation was a departure from the source material in some ways, emphasizing philosophical and political themes rather than action and violence.
When Ghost in the Shell was first released in 1995, it received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Some praised its striking visuals and thought-provoking ideas, while others found it confusing or overly slow-paced. However, over time the movie has become a cult classic and a major influence on the anime and sci-fi genres.
One reason for the movie’s enduring popularity is its innovative animation style, which blends traditional 2D animation with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and digital effects. The movie’s use of shadow and lighting also creates a distinctive mood and atmosphere that contributes to its overall impact.
Ghost in the Shell has also been praised for its exploration of philosophical and sociopolitical themes related to technology, identity, and society. The movie raises questions about the nature of the self, the ethics of technology, and the impact of corporate power on individual freedoms. These themes continue to resonate with audiences today and have influenced subsequent anime and sci-fi works.
Ghost in the Shell has had a major impact on the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres since its release in 1995. Here are some ways in which the movie has influenced subsequent works:
- Style and animation: Ghost in the Shell’s innovative animation style, which blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects, has been imitated and expanded upon in numerous anime and sci-fi works. The movie’s use of lighting and shadow to create atmosphere and mood has also been widely praised and emulated.
- Philosophy and themes: Ghost in the Shell’s exploration of complex themes related to technology, identity, and consciousness has inspired many subsequent works in the anime and sci-fi genres. The movie’s use of philosophy and introspection to explore these themes has set a high bar for intellectual depth and complexity in storytelling.
- Action and violence: Although Ghost in the Shell is known more for its philosophical and thematic elements, the movie also contains striking action sequences that have influenced subsequent works. The movie’s blend of action, philosophy, and introspection has become a hallmark of the cyberpunk and anime genres.
- Characters and world-building: The characters and world of Ghost in the Shell have become iconic in the anime and sci-fi communities. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a beloved and influential protagonist, and the world of the movie has inspired many subsequent works set in futuristic, cybernetic societies.
Ghost in the Shell is known for its distinctive animation style, character designs, and visual effects. The movie’s use of a hybrid animation style that blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects was innovative for its time, and it still stands out today as a visually striking and ambitious work.
The character designs in Ghost in the Shell are also notable for their realism and detail. The movie’s protagonists, including Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa, are all depicted with a level of physical and emotional nuance that is rare in anime. The movie’s use of lighting and shadow to create atmosphere and mood also contributes to its distinctive visual style.
In terms of audio, Ghost in the Shell features a haunting and memorable score by Kenji Kawai. The movie’s use of choral vocals and traditional Japanese instruments creates a sense of otherworldliness that complements its futuristic and philosophical themes. The movie’s sound design is also noteworthy, with a mix of ambient soundscapes and intense action sequences that create a sense of immersion and tension.
Compared to other anime movies and TV shows of its time, Ghost in the Shell is notable for its technical achievements and ambition. The movie’s blend of traditional and digital animation techniques set a new standard for animation in the late 1990s, and its use of complex themes and introspection marked a departure from the more straightforward action and adventure stories that dominated the genre. Today, Ghost in the Shell remains a benchmark for technical excellence and artistic ambition in anime and sci-fi storytelling.
Since its release in 1995, Ghost in the Shell has become a touchstone of the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres, and its influence can be seen in numerous works of popular culture. The movie’s themes of identity, consciousness, and technology continue to resonate with audiences, and its innovative animation style and visual effects have set a high bar for technical excellence in storytelling.
The Ghost in the Shell franchise has also spawned numerous adaptations and spinoffs, including anime series, manga, video games, and a live-action movie. While not all of these works have been well-received, they demonstrate the enduring popularity and appeal of the Ghost in the Shell universe. The franchise has also introduced a new generation of fans to the original movie and its complex themes, ensuring that the movie’s legacy will continue for years to come.
In the broader context of anime and sci-fi history, Ghost in the Shell stands out as a groundbreaking work that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in animation and storytelling. The movie’s blend of action, philosophy, and introspection marked a departure from the more straightforward adventure stories that dominated the anime genre in the 1990s, and its influence can be seen in subsequent works that explore complex themes related to technology and society.
Ghost in the Shell is a seminal anime movie that was released in 1995. The movie is set in a future world where technology has advanced to the point where humans and machines have begun to merge together. The story follows the adventures of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who works for a government agency called Section 9.
As Major Kusanagi investigates a series of cybercrimes that threaten the security of her world, she begins to question her own identity and place in society. The movie explores complex themes related to identity, consciousness, and the relationship between humans and technology, as Major Kusanagi grapples with the nature of her own existence and the morality of the work she is doing.
Ghost in the Shell is known for its distinctive animation style, character designs, and visual effects. The movie’s use of a hybrid animation style that blends traditional 2D animation with CGI and digital effects was innovative for its time, and it still stands out today as a visually striking and ambitious work. The movie’s protagonists, including Major Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa, are all depicted with a level of physical and emotional nuance that is rare in anime.
In conclusion, Ghost in the Shell is a groundbreaking anime movie that has had a significant impact on both the anime and sci-fi genres. Its exploration of complex themes related to identity, consciousness, and the relationship between humans and technology has resonated with audiences for decades. The movie’s innovative animation style, character designs, and visual effects have set a high standard for technical excellence in storytelling, and its memorable score and sound design complement its futuristic and philosophical themes.
The movie’s continued influence can be seen in numerous works of popular culture, and the Ghost in the Shell franchise has spawned numerous adaptations and spinoffs that further explore the movie’s themes and concepts. Its legacy as a seminal work in the anime, sci-fi, and cyberpunk genres is secure, and it will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for years to come.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of anime and sci-fi or a newcomer to the genre, Ghost in the Shell is a must-see movie that offers a thought-provoking and visually stunning experience. Its themes and technical achievements make it a work of enduring significance, and its influence can be felt in numerous works of popular culture. Ghost in the Shell remains an important and influential work, and it will continue to be celebrated by fans and critics alike for its innovative storytelling and visionary worldbuilding.
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10 worst live-action anime adaptations of all time, ranked.
It's difficult to make the transition from anime to live-action, but some adaptations do such a poor job that the results are inexcusable.
- Live-action adaptations of beloved anime often struggle to recreate the fantastical elements and tone that made the original series great.
- The popularity of an anime can drive the decision to create a live-action adaptation, but high expectations from fans can lead to disappointment.
- Many live-action anime adaptations fail to capture the heart and essence of the original, resulting in visual failures, confusing plot choices, and unconvincing performances.
Anime is often defined by its animation style and choices, so undertaking a live-action adaptation of a beloved piece of art can easily go wrong, even with the best intentions. Translating the artwork to real people and set pieces is hard work, and it's no wonder that the result of live-action can often be cartoonish, and not in a good way. The fantastical elements of magic, monsters, or stylized physicality that anime often employs are difficult to recreate in real life and leave lots of room for error.
There are many reasons that certain anime series get chosen to be turned into live-action, and a driving force is usually the popularity of the work. While this might mean that many people will flock to watch the adaptation, it also means that there are just as many critics with high expectations for what the live-action version has to offer. Though visual failures are usually the first sign that the adaptation won't be a good one, what these films and series often forget the most is the tone and essence of what made the anime great.
Though the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender film is one of the worst adaptations of an animated series, the original show is not technically anime, so it will not be included on the list.
10 Best Live-Action Movies & TV Shows Based On Anime, According To IMDb
10 parasyte: part 1 (2014), based on parasyte: the maxim (2014 - 2015).
In a tale of possession, Shinichi Izumi has his right hand taken over by a parasite, one of many who have come to Earth to take control of their hosts. Though Izumi and his parasite, Migi, end up working together, other hosts are not so lucky. T he manga and the anime are known for depictions of body horror and fantastic fight scenes. Parasyte: Part 1 is not the absolute worst when it comes to anime adaptations and works hard to stay true to the story. It has some of the elements of a successful film, but the effects do fall flat and the action comes nowhere close to the anime.
9 Devilman (2004)
Based on devilman (1972 - 1973).
The premise of Devilman revolves around Akira, a shy high school boy who is soon transformed, body and mind, by a demon. Though he takes on the physical traits and skills of the demon, he still retains his humanity and joins the fight against evil. This may sound like a straightforward enough concept to grasp, but Devilman failed just about everywhere possible. Character choices were confusing because the pacing was rushed, and this was not helped by performances that didn't live up to the voice acting of the anime. All of this was cemented by the obvious CGI that didn't look good at the time and hasn't aged well.
8 Black Butler (2014)
Based on black butler (2008 - 2011).
Black Butler has some of the aspects that made the anime so successful, but not enough to justify the film being made. It seems that rather than being a direct adaptation of the anime, the movie takes elements and translates them into a new narrative. Some of the biggest changes are the origin story of how The Earl/Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian meet and come to strike their deal. In both, Sebastian is a demon who does the bidding of his master in exchange for their soul. However, the film loses some of the most compelling plot points from the anime, and all the physical combat feels choppy and forced.
7 Attack On Titan (2015)
Based on attack on titan (2013 - 2023).
Attack on Titan is considered one of the greatest anime ever made and one of the most popular. Attempting to translate that impact and popularity into a new set of actors and circumstances was always doomed to fail. In the 2015 film iteration, the story tries to cram in an enormous amount of the complicated plot and ends up leaving the viewer uncertain about what took place in the movie. It's not entirely the fault of the film, as the anime and manga are painfully complex, and without full knowledge of the motivations of the characters, their actions can seem corny and overwrought.
However, the over-reliance on green screen and CGI to try and capture the terror of the Titans just made them look ridiculous, not scary. Without the horror of the anime and manga being fully communicated, Eren and his friends' reactions to the events of the film seem over-the-top, and the stakes are much lower. For anyone interested in, or devoted to, the original story, the live-action adaptation is not the way to go.
6 Cowboy Bebop (2021)
Based on cowboy bebop (1998 - 1999).
There were high expectations for Netflix's recent attempt at adapting the iconic Cowboy Bebop , but the stylization, plot, and overall quality didn't live up to the achievements of the anime. As Spike, the infamous space cowboy bounty hunter, John Cho is charismatic, as are the other actors, but they aren't the central problem, everything else is. The iconic mixture of Western and film Noir esthetics that the anime utilized felt empty in the live-action, as did the action sequences that Spike and his gang were known for. Additionally, as with almost every live-action iteration, the effects only served to take the viewer out of the world.
5 Ghost In The Shell (2017)
Based on ghost in the shell (1995), ghost in the shell.
Based on the internationally-acclaimed anime/manga “GHOST IN THE SHELL, " a sci-fi action movie that follows the Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 faces an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.
For the 2017 adaptation of the sci-fi hit Ghost in the Shell , visual effects and action sequences were the smallest problems. The film fell victim to the offensive Western tradition of whitewashing and cast Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, instead of a Japanese actress. Though she does a fine job portraying the cyborg, she never should have been cast. Overall, the film does take some liberties with the plot and Westernizes it, which pushes it further from the source material. Unlike other anime adaptations, the film had a blockbuster-sized budget, but the sharp look of the film could not save it from missing the heart of the anime.
Every Ghost In The Shell Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best
4 death note (2017), based on death note (2006 - 2007).
Also produced by Netflix, 2017's Death Note made one major mistake: it needed to be darker. In the anime, Light is a cruel and uncompromising villain, and even though he's the protagonist, he's also supposed to be irredeemable. The Western version of the story that the film created doesn't have the stomach to reckon with the twisted morality of Light or the intricate game he plays with L. Though Willem Dafoe as Ryuk is a bright spot and captures the dark comedy of the god of death, it's not enough to make up for the tonal failures of the film.
3 Fullmetal Alchemist (2017)
Based on fullmetal alchemist (2003 - 2004) & fullmetal alchemist: brotherhood (2009 - 2010).
The magic system of Fullmetal Alchemist involves lots of highly specialized art and visuals that are difficult to portray outside of animation. Though the live-action movie struggles with these aspects, it fails to capture the complete character arcs and Ed and Al. It's a sprawling story, and trying to condense a series into the limited time frame of a film is a downfall of many live-action adaptations. In leaving out certain aspects of the original anime, the big reveals don't carry the same emotional weight. Additionally, though Ed and Al are still likable, and their journey engaging, they're not as compelling as the characters from the anime.
2 Ouran High School Host Club (2012)
Based on ouran high school host club (2006).
The original Ouran High School Host Club has many fantastical elements and larger-than-life characters because this is the style of storytelling. Unfortunately, when translated to live-action acting, the performances become melodramatic and borderline impossible to watch. Most of the fun events that take place over several episodes are cut for time, which rushes the slow-burn romances that are a hallmark of the anime and manga. Additionally, when the love confessions do happen they don't feel earned because the audience has barely seen the characters get to know each other and fall in love.
1 Dragonball Evolution (2009)
Based on dragonball z (1989 - 1996).
Though there have been many iterations of the Dragon Ball manga, the Dragonball Z series is considered the definitive adaptation. Despite this, a live-action film was made in 2009 which cast predominantly white actors and made little to no sense. Though there are plenty of story arcs to choose from, the movies didn't faithfully recreate any of them and instead made the adventures of Goku and his friends into a caricature of the source material. The film might have been saved by the actors if the performances had been good, but they reflected the overall quality of the film, a disappointment to everyone.