Hey guys, Justin here, and welcome to the Otaku Mind. Today I’m going to be giving my thoughts on the recent Ghost in the Shell movie. I know, I know, I’m late but I like to let my thoughts sit for a day and I was catching up with a friend this weekend. Now, before we get into the movie a little history about this series. Ghost in the Shell is one of the most recognizable anime/manga titles out there. The series was created by Masamune Shirow back in 1989 and takes place in the futuristic 21st century Japan where we follow the life of Motoko Kusanagi an agent of the government who works for Section 9 who deal with cyber-terrorism and cybercrimes. In the future, we see that technology has advanced to the point where humans can implant cybernetic parts within their body to enhance their everyday life as well as robotic servants. You can even possess cyber brains. Motoko stands out in this world because she’s a full cyborg. As a child, Motoko had a terrible accident which required her brain to be transferred to a full cybernetic body making her the first of her kind. This series really took off for its storytelling, good action, interesting characters, and a philosophical look on life and what makes us humans. This series is easily one of the best animse/mangas out there and if you haven’t checked it out yet I highly recommend it. As you can imagine, because of its popularity there have been games, animated movies, and multiple anime adaptations covering the series and now we have a live American version of the movie that came out not to long ago.
So, what did I think of the movie. . .I liked it for the most part. Me and a good friend went to go see it Friday night and we thought it was good but there are definitely a few problems in the movie. Let’s start by looking at the positives first. Scarlett Johansson as Motoko, she was great. Just like I said in the previous Otaku Mind everybody was giving her a hard time because she was casts as Motoko and there was even a petition to get her replaced (which by the way, screw those guys who started that petition). People were talking about how this was a big mistake but it wasn’t, Scarlett did a great job as Motoko. She really bought this character to life with her inflections, speech, manners, and personality. Plus, she looked beautiful. I know some people wanted her to have the purple hair but no I don’t think she would have looked realistic and it would have been hard to take her seriously. The black hair was good and to be fair in the anime adaptions that I’ve seen her hair is black or a dark blackish purple. Anyway, Scarlett did a good job as Motoko so take that to all the haters out there. The visuals were amazing. That’s the one thing everybody has said they liked about this movie and yes visually this movie is amazing. Everything looks so futuristic but we still got that 21st century look and feel to it. During the day time the visuals don’t stand out as much as they should, they’re still impressive but it’s hard to appreciate them during the day. But at night, good God, they really stand out. They look fantastic, it really does feel like we’ve enter the future that’s not too far off from our world. It’s all believable stuff that I could see being done in the real world. The cybernetics were cool especially on Motoko’s body, you really do believe that that’s a cybernetic body disguised in human flesh. I enjoyed the action parts. Probably my favorite part of the movie was near the end when Motoko was fighting that tank and you could see her body being torn apart as she tries to dismantle it (which was also in the manga/animated film). I really think they nailed that scene perfectly. Now they did change the story around which I’m not surprise its Hollywood and it was obvious that they were trying to reach the mainstream audience instead of the actual fans of the series. Again, just from watching the trailers I knew that’s what they were doing and I understand why they did that. Keep in mind this is a pretty old series. It came out one year after I was born (I’m 28 right now) so that means the series is almost 30 years old which isn’t too old, that’s around the age a lot of anime fans are but the problem that comes in is how many of those fans have heard about or read Ghost in the Shell? If they were to follow everything from the manga they would have got the approval of the fans but the rest of the audience would have most likely been lost and couldn’t take everything in so they played it safe and decided to make a movie that would get the attention of the mainstream audience and make more money. Personally, I think they would have been better off following the manga more but I understand their mindset behind this decision and the story that they give us was alright, it was easy to follow although the reveal of who the real villain was is obvious, it fits within the Ghost in the Shell universe.
Alright, now that I’ve covered the positives let’s focus on the movie’s negatives. For me, this movie had 2 major faults. The first one is not focusing on the rest of the members from Section 9. Aside from Motoko we really don’t get to know much about the other members of Section 9. Most of them only get a few lines of dialogues and we don’t get to spend nearly enough time with them to understand their role on the team. If anything, they come across as cameos. However, I will say I did like the one scene where Aramaki played by Takeshi Kitano took out the agents trying to kill him and said don’t send a hare to kill a fox, that was badass and the line of the movie for me. The only character that they do focus on aside from Motoko is Batou played by Pilou Asbæk who does a good job as Batou and serves as a good friend and colleague for Motoko to lean on and talk to. We see that he likes dogs feeding them whenever he gets the chance to and like I said previously he’s a good friend to Motoko as whenever she feels lost or unsure if she’s human he’s there to remind her that she’s human. It’s also nice to see a platonic relationship between the two. There’s no hint of affection between the two, it’s just respect for one another. But aside from him the rest of the characters barely get any screentime which is a letdown because everybody on the team is kickass and badass in their own way. The second problem I have with this movie and it’s the biggest one is they don’t talk about the philosophical aspects of what it means to be a human. This is the central on-going theme in the series. In a world where cybernetics has pretty much taken over the world one has to wonder what the definition of ‘human’ is in a society where the human brain can be copied and replaced with a cybernetic body, what exactly is the ghost in the cybernetic body, and where is the boundary between human and machine when their differences become more philosophical and less physical? These are questions that the movie never attempts to answer or present an idea for. There are a few scenes where it seems like they’re going to address these issues but they immediately get pushed to the side for an action scene or for the plot. It’s a huge letdown and disappointment for me that would have bought this movie to another level.
Now after considering all this stuff and giving my thoughts what’s the final score for this movie? Well, I would give the movie a 6/10. It’s okay overall, it definitely got people interested in the series and I’m sure that people who have seen the movie or will see it are gonna go out to their bookstores and buy the manga to get a better understanding of the series or check out the anime adaptations which in my opinion were better than the movie. Is this a well-done anime adaption? No, but it’s passable and a step in the right direction when it comes to live-action anime movies. It’s better than the DBZ movie, we can all agree on that right? Rumor has it there’s going to be a second movie and yeah with the way it was done and how it ended there’s obviously going to be a second movie in the future and hopefully the second movie will focus on the rest of the members from Section 9 and get more into the philosophy of the series. Now that they’ve got everyone interested in the series they can now capitalize on this and show everyone what this series is all about, create an amazing sequel, and I’ll be there to comment and give my thoughts on it. Until then, thanks for reading, let me know what you thought about the movie, and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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