"Ghost in the Shell becomes one of the most significant films in the history of Japanese animation this autumn when it is simultaneously launched in Japan, Britain and America. This is the first time an anime - the Japanese term for animated films - has received such international recognition, evidence of the genre's growing worldwide appeal. Ghost in the Shell is premiered at the Odeon in Leicester Square as part of the London film Festival on Saturday 11 November. It goes on theatrical release early the following month, opening at the MGM Trocadero in London and cinemas around Britain on Friday 8 December."
"The movie is based on an acclaimed series of comic books (or 'manga') by the artist Masamune Shirow, celebrated for his work on such anime titles as Appleseed and Dominion. The film has been co-produced by Kodansha (the Japanese publishing company responsible for Katsuhiro Otomo's acclaimed anime, Akira), Bandai Visuai and the British company Manga Entertainment - the first Western partner in a Japanese animation project. The soundtrack to Ghost in the Shell also features One Minute Warning, a track which appears on the forthcoming Original Soundtracks 1 album by Passengers, the latest venture by U2 and Brian Eno."
"Ghost in the Shell is set in the year 2029. An internationally notorious computer criminal has surfaced in Japan. Codenamed 'The Puppet Master' for his ability to control the minds of innocent victims, this unique and mysterious super-hacker is suspected of a multitude of offences, including stock market manipulation, illegal data gathering, terrorist acts and infringment of cybernetic ethics. Section 9, Japan's elite secret service, is called in to capture this elusive criminal, only to discover that the elaborate web of evidence leads back to Japan's own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a computer virus created by them as the ultimate tool in political espionage."
"Ghost in the Shell sets new standards in animation, combining state-of-the-art computer graphics with traditional cel techniques. The film was directed by Mamoru Oshii who was also responsible for the enormously successful Palabor anime series."
Creator: Masamune Shirow Director: Momoru Oshii Screenplay: Kazunori Ito Animation: Toshihiko Nishikubo Music: Kenji Kawai Mecha Design: Shoji Kawamori Character Design: Keisuke Okiura & Hiroyuki Okiura Copyright: Kodansha/Bandai Visual/Manga Entertainment First release: Language Format: English Language English cast: Bateau: Richard George Kusanagi: Mimi Woods Aramaki: William Frederick Puppet master: Abe Lasser Running time: 79 mins Certificate: 15 Label: Manga Video Catalogue no: MANV 1133 Price: £13.99 Release Date: 13th May 1996 Double Pack: Includes 'Making of' directed by Mitsuhiko Hishida Language Format: Japanese Language, English Subtitles Running time: 111 mins Certificate: 15 Label: Manga Video Catalogue no: MANV 1169 Price: £19.99 Release Date: 11th Nov 1996 DVD version: Includes 'Making of', trailer, and 'A Guide to Ghost in the Shell' Language Format: Bilingual Japanese/English, optional English Subtitles Running time: 79 mins (making of: 30 mins) Certificate: 15 Label: Manga Video Catalogue no: MANG 5529 Price: £19.99 Release Date: 28th Feb 2000
This anime is a big budget joint production between our Manga Entertainment Limited, Bandai Visual, and Kodansha. It's adapted from a manga by the famous Masamune Shirow (Appleseed, Dominion, Orion), who is to manga what Kim Stanley Robinson is to SF. So the result was, to put it mildly, eagerly awaited. Briefly, it is about special forces personnel who are so heavily augmented as to be part, or almost entirely, cyborg. The year is 2029. A dangerous computer criminal, the 'Puppet Master', named for his ability to hack into and control the minds of innocent victims, and suspected of stock market manipulation, illegal data gathering and terrorist acts, has surfaced in Japan. Section 9, a covert secret service group, is called in to capture the criminal, only to discover that the trail leads to their own government's Foreign Ministry.
The result, at a cost of some £2.5 million - is impressive, with highly realistic animation likely to appeal to the uncommitted viewers, a wealth of striking effects and a thrilling music sound track. SF fans should appreciate the serious SF content, and some heavyweight philosophising between Kusanagi and Bateau. There are art-oriented scenes, as well as frequent passages of violent action. The main problem with the movie in that in trying to appeal to various tastes the makers have produced one in which the various elements do not sit entirely easily together. It is also addressing the same question as ARMITAGE III - what is a human being? But ARMITAGE III does it more simply and to more immediate effect. The plot of SHELL is also too cynical and labyrinthine for its own good. For all that, it's one of the most exciting and impressive animated movies to appear to date, and richly detailed enough to reward multiple viewings. I was initially noncommital, but I think I'll be watching this again and again.
The one anime movie every one had heard of is AKIRA. With all the money and expectations riding on this new movie, in future it may well be AKIRA and GHOST IN THE SHELL that every one has heard of.
By the way, the 'ghost' is, more or less, a soul, without the religious connotations.
Verdict: Pawn anything so you can get to see this, or you're not an anime fan. [Geoff Cowie]
Jerry Hsu: I liked GitS a lot. I've only skimmed the manga once or twice so I don't know how it compares to that (no puma sister cameos). In tone and style, GitS is a lot like P2 (surprise surprise since most of the P2 staff worked on GitS). There was a good amount of action. The underlying theme seemed to be a "what makes a person human" questioning. I assume this is consistant with the manga. The animation was really smooth and well done. The dubbing was good and I'd compare it to Totoro in terms of how natural the voices sounded. As some other notes, the movie was originally intended to be produced in both Japanese and English. MangaEnt was a co-producer. For this reason, I'm assuming that the dialogue and story are consistent between the two versions. All and all, I liked it a lot and it's definitely worth seeing at least once and on a big screen. David Morton: For some reason it seems that the more important the character, the less he or she looks like Shirow's original character design. Shades of the Appleseed anime. Music: very good, though at times it will make you think of that Aptiva commercial on TV. Dubbing: not bad, although I really didn't like the voice of Major Kusanagi. She sounded more like your friend's sister than a police commando. Animation: beautiful. Though there was an atmospheric section in the middle that took so long to demonstrate how beautiful the animation was, it drew attention to itself. A very good film, but wait for the sub (there WILL be a sub won't there Mr. Frain?). Jason W Kim: To me GitS was very understandable, but my semi-otaku friends (both who like the not-so-hardcore-sf stuff) complained bitterly about the lack of understability (mostly they were complaining about the monotonic voice acting, which didn't help the material (esp. Motoku's explanation about her self on the boat) to go down well for them. This was strange, because otherwise, my friends ARE the types to sit down and analyze a film to death. Any one of these two could sit down and babble about (Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) to death and beyond. One thing I found annoying was that my friends were putting down GitS as a cheap BR clone. This notion I found very annoying (not to mention inaccurate). Another really cool item about GitS (anime AND manga) was how the characters equates the "Ghost" as the essential part of sentience in cyborgs, sort of like the idea of a spirit being the motif force behind life. Shirow pulls Muy large rabbits out of his hat!! Hee!!! Keith Ramsey: I thought GITS was excellent. I saw it twice, and the second time the storyline was a little clearer and I picked up a lot of things I missed the first time I saw it. They kept talking about the MOFA and it finally clicked that that was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Section 6). The whole Section 6-Puppetmaster thing started to make some sense as well. Still, if you want to get an even more engrossed storyline, you can get the manga series. One reason I like Shirow's work is that he writes involved stories which take some brainpower (and dialogue) to figure out. In addition, Mamoru Oshii, who directed GITS, uses monologues in most of his animes to bring about a more complex storyline. The Patlabor movies were as much drama as action. GITS had some great action sequences as well, and overall I thought the pace of the story was good. The voice actors were pretty good too; the Major's voice was kind of monotone, kind of bored, but that reflects her character. What I'm waiting to see is if a year from now the new people to anime start saying "I remember seeing GITS and it got me hooked," as opposed to the previous start-up movie, Akira. Charles King: There are times when you don't feel as if you're moving at the same pace as the film. On the other hand, the more I watched it, the more I felt that this was, in part, a useful technique to disengage the viewer from the 'real world' events. Time after time, Oshii deliberately changes gear. This is most noticeable during the transfer scene when the Puppetmaster and Kushanagi link up. You are forced into an unreal, ghost-like sense of time as they calmly discuss things while the helicopters hover overhead. The film could, indeed have been better, but I would put the blame more on Shirow than Oshii. The manga did not, after all, provide all that much to go on, and Oshii added a lot of extra touches to Kusanagi that gave a much greater sense of her alienation from the human society she was meant to serve. Chris Keroack: The music was good. The computer effects were stylish (particularly those which enhanced the rest of the view on the world, like the water droplets on the main character's goggles when she goes diving). Some of the matte work was detailed and rich. The movement of some of the characters and machines, particularly the arachnid-looking tank, were good. However, all of this was cancelled out by the awful (English; don't know about Japanese) dialogue. Actually, I can't say it was dialogue; it was a series of monologues, spouting off on not-too original themes of what it means to be human, conscious, or invested in the advancement of artificial intelligence. No one talked to each other; no one *demonstrated* how they felt, if they felt at all; they just stood, stared and chattered away in a monotone. It was dry and amateurish in presentation, and not too original to begin with. And the flat voice acting didn't help one bit. Just as one can present someone being boring in a work of fiction without boring the audience, these semi-humans and non-humans and automatons didn't have any life in them whatsoever, artificial or otherwise. I saw no reason to care about them as people or their situation any more than I'd be compelled to care about the faux-psychologist program "Eliza" that spits out words in a monotone without having any feelings about them. In short: kind of pretty to watch, but not nearly as good as the hype made it sound. This isn't what I'd show to people to win them over to anime. "Nausicaa" or "Wings of Honneamise" it ain't. David Emami: Personally, I liked GitS a *lot*. Quite a bit more than Akira. That said, it did have problems. There was too much exposition; the speeches could have been trimmed down a lot without confusing the audience. And I kinda disliked the gratuitous nudity. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing per se against people conducting running gun battles in the buff, but there should be a reason for it. Those two objections aside, there were a lot of interesting ideas in there (sentient programs engaging in sexual reproduction? mind control via net interface?) Maybe I'll notice more to dislike when I rent the tape, but at the time I was in too much of a "gosh, I'm in watching anime in a *theatre*" happy mood to be cataloging things to gripe about. And even if I were, the cataloging section of my brain was busy with "how would you work this in Shadowrun?" type of questions. :) Brian E. Angliss: Shirow does seem to be asking "What does it mean to be human." Another respondant pointed out that, if a human can be improved by machine parts(cyborgs) and a machine can have a soul, what truly differentiates human from machine? I think that part of the point of the film is that there may be no difference, and that's what Shirow seems to be saying. However, I personally feel that the manga did a MUCH better job at saying this. From the manga, I got a feel that Shirow was saying that that technology was neutral in most cases, and generally beneficial in those cases where it wasn't neutral. I got a much more "technophilic" sense out of the manga than I did from the film. While I personally didn't like the ending with the merging of the Major and the AI, it made sense in the manga. However, the anime has a much darker, "technophobic" feel. It's almost as if the anime was saying that technology was the root cause of half of all suffering in the world, but without mentioning any of the positive aspects of technology. Look at the battle scene at the end, for example, where the Major is fighting the tank. At one point, the tank sends bullets into a fresco which is the tree of life, showing the branches off the tree for apes, reptiles, birds, etc. The destruction from the bullets stop just short of the top of the tree, which has the word "humanis" written on it. Not exactly subtle condemnation of technology, IMHO. And because of this overall technophobia present in the film, the Major's assent to being fused with the AI seems totally non-sensical. It's like, at the last instant, the anime decides to do a 180 degree reversal on technology and become technophilic in order to reconcile the end of the anime with the end of the manga. The ending is so out of place compared to the rest of the film that it just wipes it out. If it weren't for the ending, GiTS could have been one of the best anime I'd ever seen, up there with Wings of Honneamise, Gall Force, Bubblegum Crisis, and Eva, but that ending(plus a few minor problems like I hate the Major's eyes) just ruined it.