The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ghost in the Shell

Title: Ghost in the Shell aka Koukaku Kidoutai
Genre: Action
Company: Production I.G.
Format: Movie; 83 minutes.
Dates: 18 Nov 1995

Synopsis: Major Motoko Kusanagi, the top agent of Section 9, has been assigned to track down a hacker known as the Puppet Master, who is skilled enough to hack into people’s minds. The Puppet Master’s victims do his bidding, their memories entirely altered, while he remains behind the scenes. Now it seems that the Puppet Master has taken an interest in Kusanagi herself. Who or what is the Puppet Master? And what does he want with Major Kusanagi?

The Highlights
Art: Gorgeous blending of cel and CG animation.
Philosophy: A few moments of actual insight into humanity…which are overshadowed by the never-ending technobabble and psychobabble.
Plot: “Shell” of a bad one.

Based on Shirow Masamune’s famous manga of the same name, one would hope that this movie would keep the same quality Shirow’s fans expect from him. Unfortunately, Ghost in the Shell joins Akira and Spriggan in the “movies that had too much to cover in too little time” category. However, unlike the two aforementioned titles, Ghost in the Shell is, at times, about as fun to watch as Teletubbies. For minutes on end, the viewer is bombarded by meaningless images and slow trance music. Some call this “art,” but I call it “boring.” The plot comes in large chunks at various points in the movie, making it very hard to digest. Not like there’s anything worth digesting anyway.

Despite its numerous flaws, Ghost in the Shell isn’t all bad. The art and animation are superb and considering it was made in 1995, phenomenal. A lot of anime movies today don’t even come close to this level of quality. Hidden within all the eye candy and psychobabble, are a few moments of actual insight into human consciousness and existence. To say these few good moments are enough to save Ghost in the Shell would be like saying that having a few good players on a baseball team will win you a championship. I wish that the Puppet Master would come along and make me forget that I spent an hour and twenty two minutes of my life staring at pretty pictures.

Ghost in the Shell is only good as something to watch when you want to turn off your brain and be serenaded by pretty pictures. Seeing as how Ghost in the Shell tried to be intelligent, this is inexcusable. I doubt even die-hard Shirow fans would get much out of this “Ghost” of the manga. If you desire to know what Ghost in the Shell wanted to be, watch Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and forget that you ever wasted your time on this “shell” of the manga.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Kuma

Top of page