'Ghost In the Shell' review module GHOST IN THE SHELL. (Manga Video, 1hr 15m) Cinema tour Dec '95 video in April '96.
This very new anime is a big budget joint production between our Manga Entertainment Limited, Bandai Visual, and Kodansha. It's adapted from a manga by the famous Masamune Shirow (Appleseed, Dominion,Orion), who is to manga what Kim Stanley Robinson is to SF. So the result was, to put it mildly, eagerly awaited.
Briefly, it is about special forces personnel who are so heavily augmented as to be part, or almost entirely, cyborg. The year is 2029. A dangerous computer criminal, the 'Puppet Master' , named for his ability to hack into and control the minds of innocent victims,and suspected of stock market manipulation, illegal data gathering and terrorist acts, has surfaced in Japan. Section 9, a covert secret service group, is called in to capture the criminal, only to discover that the trail leads to their own government's Foreign Ministry.
The result, at a cost of some 2.5 million - is impressive, with highly realistic animation likely to appeal to the uncommitted viewers, a wealth of striking effects and a thrilling music sound track. SF fans should appreciate the serious SF content, and there is some heavyweight philosophising, and art-oriented scenes, as well as frequent passages of violent action. The main problem with the movie in that in trying to appeal to various tastes the makers have produced one in which the various elements do not sit entirely easily together. It is also addressing the same question as ARMITAGE III - what is a human being? But ARMITAGE III does it more simply and to greater effect. The plot is also too cynical and labyrinthine for its own good. For all that, it's one of the most exciting and impressive animated movies to appear to date. The one anime movie every one had heard of is AKIRA. With all the money and expectations riding on this new movie, in future it may well be AKIRA and GHOST IN THE SHELL that every one has heard of.
By the way, the 'ghost' is, more or less. a soul, without the religious connotations. Verdict: Impressive! (GC)