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Ghost In The Shell

     This will be the first review of many that I will call "required viewing in Cinematic Anime," which means that if you cannot watch any other animes/mangas, then these are the ones to watch.

     The first in this series is actually a newer manga called Ghost in the Shell. Just about everyone has heard of this title, but it is my experience that many have actually not seen the anime from start to finish. The reason I have chosen this instead a "classic" like Akira or Vampire Hunter D is because I want peoples first experience in this sort of anime to a somewhat interesting one, and unless you truly appreciate classical cinematic anime/manga, then you might find some of these titles to be very bland, especially by today's high standards.

     So onto the review…

     The basic premise behind Ghost in the Shell is that in the future, computerization has led to the advent of marvelous technologies; cybernetic enhancements, Artificial Intelligence and bio-computer augmentation. For those that are older, Ghost in the Shell bears a striking resemblance to Blade Runner. Which I feel the Manga draws upon heavily. However, despite all of this, independent countries and ethnic groups still exist, and politics as we know it (conflict, various foreign interests, etc…) still exist.

Film Information

   Studio: Manga
   Released: March, 1996
   Director: Mamoru Oshii
   Rating: 98/100
   Siskel and Ebert gave it two     thumbs up!

   Click on the Formats    below to buy this film:
   VHS Dubbed,
   VHS Subtitled,
   DVD Sub/Dubbed

In Association with

     Our main Character is one "Major" Motoko Kusanagi, a human who now has an augmented cybernetic body and computer enhanced brain. Kusanagi works for a group called "Sector 9," a security police organization whose full purposes in the movie is not entirely known. The story revolves around her struggles with concepts of her own soul, or ghost, as they are reffered to in the movie, when a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master appears in Tokyo, hacking into various ghosts and committing acts of terrorism.

     Summary seem a little thin, that's because I want you to see the movie, not simply read about it.

     One of the best aspects of this Manga is the fact that traditional animation was blended with computer graphics to augment the futuristic feel of the movie. However, I must warn that if you are not comfortable with some brief nudity at the beginning of the movie, you might be turned off to what is a very good story.

     Another trait I feel separates Ghost from many traditional animes and Mangas is the fact that the director wanted Ghost to flow more like a movie than a cartoon. This means that the cuts are well placed, and terms like camera angle and placement apply to this Manga much more significantly than other titles. The action sequences, which I must also add are not great in number, are very well done. The action sequences themselves are not like the usual fast paced martial art action that we have come to expect from Japanese animation, but are much more realistic both in action and in outcome. Things happen in split seconds, especially when guns are involved in the sequences.

     The only thing that I found wrong was of course with the translation. I one scene, one of the characters says to his partner, "You know the last partner I had was fired because he was an illegal immigrant and couldn't speak English, and he was better than you." Now, this is occurring in Tokyo with Japanese signs and banners plastered all over the backdrop. I would actually have preferred if he said couldn't speak Japanese, even if he was speaking English (because it would be implied that the language is Japanese, but we are getting the "translation" so to speak). It was minor nuances like these that represent the only flaw in the movie.

     Quite frankly, this is one of the best cinematic Mangas I have ever seen, period. The story is very compelling, though I was reminded of Blade Runner more than once. The nudity was not at a sickening level that cinematic Anime often contains, and the brief nudity that it did contain was very important to the story (trust me, it is.) If you can handle this, and some very intriguing questions asked, especially about the "self", this will be a very enriching experience, and might even change some opinions about Japanese animation.

     As I said before, I have left out a lot of details (thermoptic camoflauge…). So be sure to watch this one.

     The next Anime I will review in the "required viewing of Cinematic Anime" will be Ninja Scroll, another Manga Flick, and then, maybe, just maybe, we'll get to some true classics like Akira.

      The Celestrian gives Ghost in the Shell: 98/100 (yes, its that good)

Fan Art of the Moment

Vegeta SSJ
by Abe Stemmons

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