In a futuristic world where cyberspace, artificial intelligences and cyborg cops are the norm, only the Ghost (the indefinable element of human consciousness) exists to determine who is alive and who is purely a creation of the Net. Major Motoko Kusanagi is an elite officer in the Shell Squad who has been so heavily modified that little more than her Ghost remains. She is assigned to finding a computer criminal who is skilled enough to hack into the minds of his victims, and she finds that he uses humans as puppets to do his evil deeds. Things soon take on a more sinister twist. The special edition box set features the original subtitled version of the film and a documentary into the making of the piece.
The skilful blending of drawn animation and computer-generated imagery excited anime
fans when this science fiction mystery was released in 1995: many enthusiasts believe Ghost
suggests what the future of anime
will be, at least in the short term. The film is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or "enhanced" humans for undercover work. One of the key cyborgs is The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, who resembles a cross between The Terminator and a Playboy
centrefold. She finds herself caught up in a tangled web of espionage and counterespionage as she searches for the mysterious superhacker known as "The Puppet Master."
Mamoru Oshii directs with a staccato rhythm, alternating sequences of rapid-fire action (car chases, gun battles, explosions) with static dialogue scenes that allow the characters to sort out the vaguely mystical and rather convoluted plot. Kusanagi's final quote from I Corinthians suggests that electronic evolution may compliment and eventually supplant organic evolution. The minor nudity, profanity, and considerable violence would earn Ghost in the Shell at least a PG rating. --Charles Solomon