Ghost in the shell wiki

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 khổng lồ successfully adapt anime & manga titles, even if they later get a critical reappraisal (see: Speed Racer, Edge of Tomorrow). But in the case of a classic franchise lượt thích Ghost in the Shell, which most American viewers know from the 1995 Mamoru Oshii film, there’s more of a known quantity khổng lồ live sầu up to lớn — this is one of the most influential franchises in anime history.

Still, most American moviegoers have only seen Oshii’s film, if that, và Ghost in the Shell, like many anime franchises, exists over multiple films, TV series, and manga that were still going svào as recently as 2015. And the cyborg heroine Major Motoko Kusanagi has been reincarnated in multiple ages, temperaments, and bodies (or laông xã thereof). In other words, if ScarJo’s take flops, she won’t be the first Major that fans have sầu accused of ruining the series.

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The silver lining, of course, is that it’s an excellent excuse khổng lồ dig into lớn the heady world of Ghost in the Shell. Here’s a quiông chồng guide to the essentials to lớn get you started.


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Photo: Masamune Shirow

The Ghost in the Shell (1989), by Masamune ShirowThe manga that kicked off the franchise may surprise first-time readers already familiar with the anime, due khổng lồ its lighter tone và depiction of the Major. The manga, after all, debuted in the late ’80s, before Japan fell into lớn 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 lớn 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 sầu 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, và 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 & entertaining sci-fi procedural. Still, “dễ thương Motoko,” with her silly faces và 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 OshiiArguably the high point of the franchise, và certainly the most internationally known, Mamoru Oshii’s feature film adaptation took a subplot from Shirow’s manga và turned it inkhổng lồ a meditation on consciousness and the philosophy of the self. It’s a bold direction lớn take with the source material, placing the Major on the brink of an existential crisis, và flipping the manga’s fetishization of her body toàn thân on its head (but not getting rid of it, heavens, no).

The film’s brilliantly creative sầu action sequences inspired Western filmmakers from the Wachowskis to Steven Spielberg khổng lồ take note. But Oshii does a lot with character — making a more sensitive figure out of the Major’s cyborg partner Batou, và 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 thành phố, which is plot-không tính tiền & dialogue-free but vividly evokes Motoko’s alienation — from the society she lives, và even her own body. This is Ghost in the Shell at its moodiest, & perhaps incidentally, its most successful.

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Ghost in the Shell: Stvà Alone Complex (2002–2005), directed by Kenji KamiyamaThe 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, ahy vọng others. The series, which spans 52 episodes in total, is a procedural-serial hybrid. Some episodes, labeled “Stvà 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 & his many imitators, the second on a refugee uprising.

For many fans this is the definitive sầu iteration of the franchise, fusing Shirow’s roving, speculative sầu storytelling with Oshii’s more impressionistic, philosophical approach. The animation is a peak example of how lớn meld CGI & traditional animation — it’s deployed just enough to make those car chases more thrilling và 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 & then — và 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 và 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 OshiiOshii returned to lớn the franchise nearly a decade after the first film khổng lồ 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 lớn 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 hyên ổn.

The animation is a more ambitious CGI hybrid than Stand Alone Complex, và unfortunately, much of it has not aged well. (The CGI is mostly reserved for scenery và vehicles, while the characters remain hand-drawn, giving it a weird video-game feeling at times.) But it also lends itself lớn some of the film’s more unsettling moments — this is a scarier film than the first Ghost in the Shell, & 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, PatlaborThe 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, và tín đồ reaction has been mixed at best.

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If, however, after an initial tour of the films và the manga, you sense that you’re more of an Oshii người than a Shirow or Kamiyama người, then I would recommkết thúc checking out the two Patlabor films that Oshii directed prior to lớn 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 lớn Japan’s relationship to lớn technology before the recession. Patlabor giao dịch with many of the same themes of artificial intelligence, và has a deeply wonky fascination with infrastructure and politics, but it’s also a brighter, sunnier production with equally impressive animation & action sequences. Fans of Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell will find a lot lớn love sầu here, including a very familiar và 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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