Ghost in the Shell (1995 Movie) – Review – You Can’t Teach New Dog Old Tricks?


In a world where robots and mechanical body parts have long replaced fragile bone-and-flesh of the human body, the lines between humans and androids have blurred. Androids with human memories, humans with android bodies, they are all the same… But, they do share one thing in common…

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30 fingers on two hands…

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Invisibility cloaks…

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And ultimately, nice boot… …legged android bodies that would sell pretty nicely in the black market with a market price of USD 1.3 million.

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Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell, the 1995 movie is set in the same dystopian setting as the series and movies after the original movie, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, only in parallel universes. It is set in the mid-twenty first century in the fictional city of Nihama and follows the endeavors of the Public Security Sector 9. In this fictional universe, people could have cybernetic transplants to boost their physical strength or to replace broken limbs. The cybernetic technology available was so advanced to the extent that people could opt to insert their consciousness into robots, so that they could possess supernatural abilities and strength. This however, opens the possibility to the mind being hacked and bent to benefit certain parties…

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One such person is Major Motoko Kusanagi of the Section 9, who has such a full-body prosthesis, known as “shells”, that houses her cyber-brain. She and her team was assigned to apprehend an elusive cyberhacker, known as the Puppetmaster, that hacks into people’s consciousness with cybernetic bodies, but things were not as simple as it seems…

It is now the year 2015 and it has been 20 years since this film has been released. It is said to have influenced many popular Western movies like The MatrixAvatar and has many high-profile people registered as the film’s fans. James Cameron and Steven Speilberg have came out and praised the show as sensational animated movie that was ahead of its time and “…the first to reach a level of literary excellence”.

Throughout its 20 years existence, it has caused ripples throughout the Western community. Not just for awhile, but for a very long time. In 1999, The Wachowski Brothers released the sensational The Matrix and claimed Ghost in the Shell as its source of inspiration. More recently, Scarlett Johansson was casted as Major Mokoto Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell live action movie adaptation, spelling fears that something may be lost in translation in the making of the movie.

Sure, it may be sensational inspiration back in those days, but is it still relevant to today’s generation? Can it continue to enthrall and inspire the current generation?

Well, in my humble opinion, no.

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Uh-oh.

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Okay, I don’t intend to start another flame war or anything, but to be honest, for the past 20 years, we have been bombarded with all sorts of cyberpunk movies and science fictions, so many that we couldn’t even keep count anything. From The Matrix, to I, Robot, to the Terminator franchise etc., I have seen so many dystopian futures, so much so that I don’t think the concept of having sentient artificial intelligence and cyborgs in some dystopian future would still remain its originality, now in 2015.

Frankly speaking, Ghost in the Shell wasn’t the first to suggest artificial intelligence gaining sentience nor was it the first to question human identity. The 1966 Phillip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and its subsequent film adaptation, Blade Runner explored the same concept way before Ghost in the Shell ever existed.

Anyway, back to the main topic though, was it a good movie? Well, regarding that question, yes.

There is no doubt it was a good movie, if not, great, it’s just that I couldn’t feel the excitement or the enthusiasm I was supposed to have. The plot was intricately woven and smart, while themes of human identity embedded into the main plot. You could literally feel the weight of the show bearing down while watching it. The heavy topics explored in the film was further emphasized and complimented by many heavily detailed stills and the eerie yet serene background music.

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In the short 82 minutes of the film, I felt the character development was very well done, doing well to portray Major Kusanagi as a seemingly robotic, cold and calculating person. The main character’s development was a rather smart attempt to flesh out the themes of human identity and how people identify themselves as humans. It made us question the humanity of the main character, but no more than that.

I feel like if I had watched this movie when it was just released, I would have been inspired by this film. I would probably have the same reaction as the Wachowski Brothers, as James Cameron, as Steven Spielberg. Too bad, the same questions many others have been asking for quite some time now, was posed to me once again, and I have lost the enthusiasm that I initially had.

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From the technical aspects, I felt that this show was very magnificent in terms of fluidity in animation and the BGMs. The fluidity of the action scenes was breathtaking and you wonder, whether or not this was a cel animation production. The aforementioned eerie soundtrack was exceptional too, as it brings out the weight of the themes explored in the film.


All things said and done, after taking into consideration the points awarded for the plot, character development, animation and sound, and my personal enjoyment, I now give you the scores which I think is befitting to this 1995 film:

8.28 (Good)

If I had watched this show back when it was first released, it would have easily gotten a rating of 8.5 and above. Oh well then.

So, this is the end, I guess. Leave a comment (preferably not hate comments, I’m not good with that.) and whatever. Till the next review, cheerio.

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