Ghost in the Shell is considered by many to be one of the greatest stories and animated movie ever made. Its success can be attributed to the fact that the various themes explored in the series are relatable at a basic human level. Though it is a cyberpunk tale set in the future, it has the ability to connect with people at a fundamental level.
Ghost In The Shell History
It all began in the mind of Masamune Shirow when he created a manga about a few very interesting characters in 1989. Nobody at that time could have predicted the impact Masamune’s creation would have not only amongst manga lovers but the world as a whole. The Ghost in the Shell series is undoubtedly one of the best works of art in modern history because it touches on so many unique personal themes all at the same time.
The story revolves around Major Motoko Kusanagi which is a cyber-brain built into a prosthetic human body and agents of a counter cyber-terrorism organization. All this takes place in the backdrop futuristic cyber punk-ish Japan where most of the population consists of cyber brains. The age of humanity is slowly ending and technology has ushered in a new era. Though the cyber humanoids have several advantages over normal human beings, they are extremely prone to hacking. By infiltrating their minds, attackers can easily turn them into puppets for whatever purpose they desire.
In 2017, a new Ghost In The Shell movie hit theaters with Scarlett Johansson portraying Major Motoko Kusanagi. Several details and approach differ from the original anime. More films are also in the works.
An idea in the mind of Masamune in the late 1980’s has more or less become a reality for us today with even governments getting hacked. If you haven’t seen it already, you must give it a try.
Here are facts behind one of the world’s best-told story — Ghost in the Shell.
Ghost In The Shell Series Facts
It inspired the Wachowski sisters to create the Matrix trilogy
There is probably not a soul alive on Earth who hasn’t heard about the Matrix movies. They were a phenomenon all unto themselves. But the earth-shattering concept of the Matrix was inspired by the Ghost in the Shell series.
In fact, the Wachowskis showed Joel Silver, who was the producer of the anime to give him an idea about the approach they wanted to take. From the whole cyberpunk theme to the concept of hacking into one’s mind and inserting data; a lot of common elements are found. In fact, the trilogy has several homages to the iconic anime hidden all throughout.
The TV series, movies, and manga are significantly different from one another
The Anime which blew the world away, gaining fans like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron is significantly different from the manga. Both of them have a lot of differences with the TV series too.
However, instead of alienating the audience, it manages to pull them more in because each platform provides a fresh interpretation of the characters. This is not to say that there are fundamental changes but the character of Major Motoko Kusanagi itself changes significantly.
In the 1995 movie adaptation directed by Mamoru Oshii, there is a philosophical edge to her as she contemplates the meaning of self and what it means to be an individual. In the manga, however, she is someone who doesn’t take things that seriously and always jokes about situations and others.
The interesting story of Kusanagi’s characterization in the TV series
The TV series found themselves in a pickle because they had to choose between the movie version of Kusanagi or the manga version. People had grown accustomed to both versions that creating a whole new interpretation wouldn’t have connected to the audience. Moreover, both characterizations brought their unique problems for the new medium.
In the manga, her character jumps from extremely comical situations into intense fight scenes and adapting that would have meant far more work as far as animation is concerned primarily for a drawn-out TV series. The format requires content to be pushed out regularly and adapting the manga version would have made it hard.
The animated movie version, however, brought a completely different problem. The more realistic and philosophical characterization fit into the themes being explored by the movie perfectly. But maintaining the same theme across multiple episodes or seasons would have made the show stale. So they split it right in the middle where she is philosophical but also quite younger and having certain elements from the manga characterization.
The characters are highly sexualized in the original Ghost In The Shell
The original manga is very different from the movie version to the point where many have argued that the movie has moved away far too much from the original subject. But the beauty of Ghost in the Shell is that the different interpretations of the character add layers of depth and in many ways helps to bring in a larger audience.
In the manga, Major Kusanagi is highly sexualized and far more comic than the movie version. Motoko keeps changing Kusanagi’s body from chapter to chapter, and some stories have her in barely anything at all. She is also a bisexual in the manga and frequently gets displayed in erotic angles focusing on her cyber lady parts.
The diverse themes approached in the Ghost in the Shell movie
Ghost in the Shell is widely considered to be one of the greatest anime films ever made and rightly so. For a long time, many people considered anime to be more for children rather than mature adults. Ghost in the Shell helped a lot in showing the world that anime is universal in its content and subject matter. It encompasses everything from comedy and tragedy to action and philosophy.
From identity and ontology to enslavement and subjugation, the Ghost in the Shell movie touches upon so many themes. The themes of sexuality and definition of self presented throughout the film are also notable. What does it mean to be human? Is it our flesh and blood or is it our mind? If it is the latter, can a cyborg be considered to be human if the mind is still intact?
The original movie has several references to Angel’s Egg
Mamoru Oshii, who directed the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie had earlier made an animated film called “Angel’s Egg.” Oshii often dabbled in biblical themes in all his movies and these two are no different.
Apart from that, G.I.T.S also has several references to Angel’s Egg. Both movies show the tree of life in similar contexts and showcase the use of feathers in the same way during the climax. There are also quite a few pieces of symbolism displayed in very similar ways to showcase the underlying philosophical questions put forth in the movies.
In Angel’s Egg, a girl grows into a woman whereas, in G.I.T.S, a woman slowly transforms into a girl. Since the latter considered the physical body to be insignificant, both movies in a way mirror each other as opposite reflections
‘Ghost in the Shell: Arise’ is a prequel
Ghost in the Shell: Arise came out in 2013 as a prequel to the entire series. It was accompanied by recompilations of the four original parts of the OVA along with two original episodes to tie in Arise with the new sequel, “Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie.”
The series takes us back to the year 2027 where people were getting transformed into cyborgs with prosthetic body parts. It features a much younger Major Kusanagi before Public Security Section 9 came into being. It shows us the early beginnings of Kusanagi and how she got her prosthetic body. Arise is essential if you want to get the complete arc of the main character and tells an intriguing tale about the beginning of this saga.
The soundtrack is as eclectic as the series
Apart from the stunning visuals and cutting-edge animation, what makes watching the Ghost in the Shell series is the fantastic soundtrack. The opening track in particular, which is a hybrid of ancient Japanese Min’yo chants and Bulgarian music. The combination of both of these genres makes for a chilling and almost ethereal experience.
Kenji Kawai, who was behind the music, created a track encompassing everything about the anime but also one that blends perfectly with the cyber punk theme. It’s not what you would expect at all, but somehow it just works. This eclectic combination of different genres has been a long-standing tradition of the Ghost in the Shell series.
The soundtrack of G.I.T.S: Stand Alone Complex featured Russian, English and Latin lyrics combined with electronica and it worked perfectly.