Section 9 is a top-secret government agency dealing in matters of international crime and espionage. Section 6 develops a program, code-named “The Puppet Master”, to help along operations of a covert nature… that is, until the program forms a life of its own and searches for a host to achieve individuality and independence. Operative Major Kusanagi Motoko is assigned to pull the plug before chaos threatens the lives of all involved.
summary by Kain
Highs: Eye candy
Lows: That’s all it is, is eye candy
I tried to like this anime. I really did try. I tried to buy into the hype. I tried to make myself think the outstanding visuals would overcome a lackluster and soulless plot, not to mention characters devoid of any type of personality. I tried and failed.
Well, it sure does look pretty. With production values that rival Akira‘s, it had better look damn pretty! And at that it succeeds. The animation is topnotch, garnering well-deserved oohs and ahhs. I appreciated the generous use of cool blues and grays, adding atmosphere to the sci-fi environs.
The story is stock futuristic science-fiction. Without spoiling it for others, I guessed exactly what kind of enemy the protagonists would face even before I hit the play button. Masking a non-innovative plot with techno-babble didn’t fool me one bit. Nothing about the story kept me interested, so I figured I would like the characters to compensate. Wrong. I could care less what happened to any of them. Everyone was a slightly different variation of the same cold, calculating personality. I realize that was the intention, but good intentions do not a good anime make.
I can’t really recommend this movie to anyone except those really into action anime. Myself, there wasn’t enough meat in the story or the characters. To make a small pun, there is no “ghost” in this “shell”.
Highs: Clean, pretty artwork; very nice use of setting and atmosphere; interesting storyline
Lows: Lack of back story; few explanations given
Iconic and highly influential, Ghost in the Shell has in a little over a decade become one of the most well-known anime created. Touted as a classic in the cyberpunk genre alongside movies like Blade Runner and credited as an inspiration for The Matrix, this anime is often lauded as a masterpiece. But does Ghost in the Shell live up to all its hype? Though it makes a valiant effort, sadly, this is another case where the expectations overshadow the actual product.
Visually, Ghost in the Shell delivers. Clean and stylish, the art is very pretty and highly detailed. As expected, the character art is well defined, and the setting is also rendered with close attention to detail. Combined with the shadowy blues of the color palate and the effective use of music, the world of Ghost in the Shell has a pervasive, moody ambiance that serves to heighten the action onscreen. The action itself unfolds flawlessly, with the animation smooth and fluid, creating some of the most visually pleasing fight sequences in anime. Based on aesthetics alone, this anime deserves its accolades.
Where this anime falters is in the telling of the story. Though the story itself is an interesting look into the nature of souls and humanity, the execution is fumbled. The viewer is plunged headfirst into a fast-paced plot and given no time to catch up. As the anime moves forward, bits of information are tossed out here and there, and characters’ pasts are hinted at, but no real back story is ever offered. Likewise, no explanations of exactly why things are happening are given. Though the viewer can see the workings of Section 9, the political machinations that fuel the events at hand remain largely an enigma.
Despite these rather glaring flaws, this anime is still entertaining. Fans of cyberpunk or science fiction in general will probably enjoy this one, as will fans of action anime. A word of advice, though: to avoid being disappointed, forget the hype before settling in to watch this one.
Ghost in the Shell can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.