Director – Mamoru Oshii – 1995 – Japan, UK, US – Cert. 15 – 83m
A cybernetically rebuilt, female, government agent and her male sidekick pursue a mysterious computer hacker known as The Puppet Master through Hong Kong – Digital IMAX version plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank
Review originally published in What’s On In London in 1996.
Ghost In The Shell is the first (and hopefully not the last) anime feature to be jointly financed by America, Japan and Britain (our very own Manga Entertainment). Although superficially pigeonholeable as teenage boy’s market material (nothing wrong with that per se), Ghost is considerably more intelligent than that implies. Its plot is highly complex: suffice it to say that cybernetically rebuilt female agent Kusanagi and male sidekick Bateau are pursuing a mysterious computer hacker known as The Puppet Master through Hong Kong.
Kusanagi, who makes her first appearance stripping off her clothing, jumping off a skyscraper roof and crashing through a window below to riddle a criminal pleading “diplomatic immunity” with bullets, employs thermoptic camouflage which renders her invisible to the naked eye in a matter of seconds. It’s an impressive touch, additionally furnishing such great moments as a fugitive ankle-deep in an urban canal suddenly finding himself hit, gripped and thrown around by an invisible assailant.
The visuals are uneven: some passages contain animation every bit as lavish as the seminal Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988) while others look comparatively cheap. Some wonderful CG work is interspersed through the better bits – witness the cel animated, female body floating in a water tank intercut with a CG counterpart to suggest a complex cybernetic growth process in a lab somewhere. The impressive overall result, a must for lovers both of SF and anime, is well worth checking out.
Ghost In The Shell (IMAX version) plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank
This review was originally published in What’s On In London in 1996. The film was originally released in the UK in an uninspired English language dub (complete with obligatory swearing). Its visuals were a major influence on The Matrix (Larry and Andy Wachowski, 1999). Remade as the Hollywood, live action Ghost In The Shell (Rupert Sanders, 2017).
Trailer (IMAX version) subtitled: