Ghost in the Shell
Mamoru Oshii, JPN 1995
Since the Monophonics will be playing in VERA on 3 July, a Tuesday, Zienema’s usual day for its weekly screening, your fave arthouse is switching to Monday 2 July. So why not baptise it Animonday! Since we’ll be showing the 1996 anime classic ‘Ghost in the Shell’, it well deserves the moniker.
‘Ghost in the Shell’ started out in 1989 as a seinen manga series illustrated by Masamune Shirow, which immediately caught attention with its many cyberpunk references. The manga was published in Japan as 攻殻機動隊 (Mobile Armored Riot Police), which was not to Shirow’s liking, since he intended to present his manga as a clear homage to Arthur Koestler’s book ‘The Ghost in the Machine’. The manga was first adapted for the screen in 1995 by Mamoru Oshii, a director working for Production I.G., a Japanese anime studio which successfully managed to combine traditional animation with CGI. The result is an overwhelming adventure presented in hand-drawn and computer animation, with a wealth of colour and minute details. In a narrative which refers to and honours Shirow’s story line in ‘The Interrogation of the Puppet Master by Section 9’, the movie was an instant cult classic, in both Japan and the rest of the world.
In Tokyo in 2029, life is quite a bit more complicated than today. Not only have computers taken over managing all of society, but humans have also created humanoid robots which can hardly be distinguished from the real thing and who are also equipped with an artificial soul, a ‘ghost’ which can shift to another body or shell. The plot revolves around the hunt for the Puppet Master undertaken by police agent Kusanagi, who herself is a cyborg. The Puppet Master is an untraceable computer hacker who also happens to have a ghost ….
Vision of the future
Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s visionary robot literature and movies like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘Blade Runner’, director Mamoru Oshii (or perhaps we should say Shirow) delves into the complex issues spawned by technological developments. He wonders what it means to be human in a world dominated by computers and robots. He pictures humans as puppets in a gigantic theatre, operated by a puppet master, showing how dependent we have become on the technology we so easily adopt without seriously considering its possible consequences. ‘Black Mirror’ avant la lettre, one could say.
In 2002 a television series, ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex’, was aired and in 2004 the movie sequel ‘Ghost in the shell 2: Innocence’ appeared, also directed by Oshii. In 2013 Original Video Animation released ‘Ghost in the Shell: Arise’ (later followed by a movie version entitled ‘The New Movie’). Yet the greatest Ghost revival was of course the result of the live-action blockbuster featuring Scarlett Johansson and directed by Rupert Sanders. Stay tuned to find out whether we will be screening one of these movies at our underground cinema, but first we will be presenting the 1995 original. It’s a movie which is hardly ever seen on the big screen in the Netherlands anymore, so be sure to all grab the opportunity to revel in it at Oosterstraat 44, on Monday 2 July!
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