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Ghost in the Shell

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Ghost in the Shell is a near-future cyberpunk/postcyberpunk (in later films) anime and manga franchise by Shirow Masamune

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell Trailer

Major Motoko Kusanagi, a Cybernetic "human" and leader of a special section 9 unit, is tasked with tracking down a hacker known as the Puppet Master.

The "Puppet Master" is later discovered to have possessed a blonde cyborg, It's true name is project 2051, and it describes itself as; "not an AI, but a living thinking entity, created in the sea of information."

Major Motoko Kusanagi and project 2051 later merge, forming one consciousness or what may be described as a 2 person Hive mind.

Ghost in the shell 2 innocence (2004)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Trailer

In a future time when most human thought has been accelerated by artificial intelligence, and external memory can be shared on a universal matrix, Batou of section 9's elite security force, a man who is so artificially modified as to be essentially a cyborg, is tasked along with his mostly human partner Togusa to solve a series of murders that have been committed by robots referred to as "gynoids".

Time has past since his former partner Major Motoko Kusanagi (who merged with project 2051 in the previous film) disappeared into the net, and Batou wonders if her ghost will ever return.

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Trailer

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie was released in 2015. It can be seen as a prequel to the original 1995 movie, and/or as a conitinuation of the story arc from Arise: Ghost in the Shell (TV series).

Major Kusunagi is once again the main character. There is mention of a war that after its end, accelerated cyber brain and prosthetic developments. This has also led to an increase in cyber crime.

The Major and her team are charged with investigating the death of the Japanese PM after he was assassinated while a hostage situation was taking place in section 9.

TV Series

There have also been TV series relating to the story including:

  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002-2003)
  • Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG (2004-2005)
  • Arise: Ghost in the Shell (2013-2015)

Transhumanist Elements

During the title sequence of the original movie, we see what appears to be a combination of mind uploading and avatarist technology taking place. The "ghost" is the consciousness and the "shell" refers to the cybernetic/cyborg body.

Tosuga, a recurring character in each of the movies, is mentioned to be "almost completely human, except for a slight brain augmentation". Hinting that in this world, perhaps although human in appearance, many people are not.

Kusanagi and the other team members often have information sent to them via either wires in the back of the neck, similar to those in The Matrix, or via "The Net". Major Kusanagi also controls a van by using her mind. Mind to mind communication is used regularly too.

There is reference to simulated experience. Implanted thoughts and memories similar to those found in Total Recall, and described in future of the mind by Michio Kaku. Simulated memories are often used as a key plot device. In the original movie, There is a garbage man who believes he has a wife and kid, but the police tell him he has lived alone for 10 years with no wife or child.

There are constant references to cyborgs and cyborgisation. The movies often also go into the potential ethics of both. In the 1995 movie, the general questions where she comes from, wondering if what is inside her head came from a previous life, or if she is perhaps entirely synthetic. Asking Batou "ever seen your own brain?" she then wonders if a cyber brain could generate its own "ghost". There is also a kind of cyborg taser used frequently. Black market cyborg upgrades are also mentioned in the movies.

In the first movie, Project 2051 at one point says; "you will never find a corpse, for I have never possessed a body" referring back to Kusanagi's point about consciousness. The cyborg also talks about sentient rights, demanding asylum as a sentient being.

Near the start of the third movie, while Kusanagi is speaking to a council member, he mentions that; "Council functions are now performed by AI". Something which has been a topic of interest to those working in that field and also with AGI.

Also in The New Movie, There is a reference to the "third world" but not as we may use the term. It is in regards to what sounds like a permanent virtual world or afterlife where ghosts who are dead can live on. This perhaps means that the "worlds" in the new movie are ordered thus; World 1, the "real world" or the world as we know it, the net may be assumed to be world 2, and world 3 as the simulated world.

Other future tech featured

  • Diving apparatus - used because cyborgs are too heavy to swim.
  • Chemical implants that allow alcohol to be broken down in seconds
  • Controlled metabolism
  • Computer enhanced brain
  • Cybernetic bodies
  • Regular high level maintenance of cyborgs
  • Autonomous drone-like tanks
  • Helicopters with aeroplane and/or animal like wings
  • Gadget hands to can type at high speeds
  • Thermo-optic camouflage
  • High velocity bullets
  • AR Glasses
  • Infrared Eye Lenses
  • Batou's dog is hinted at being a clone
  • Heli-bicycle
  • Batous eyes can scan crime scenes, pulling information. Togusa also receives a scan of another crime scene via the wires in the back of the head.
  • Holographic 3D photographs
  • The use a holographic imaging to analyze crime scenes.
  • Holographic meetings and "lobbies".
  • Bullet-proof cars
  • Shark like submarine

Future of Ghost in the Shell

In 2017, a live action film starring Scarlett Johanson is set to be released.

Did you know?

Ghost in the Shell was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.[1]

Quotes

  • "If man realises technology is within reach, he achieves it." - Major Kusanagi
  • "Not long ago this was science fiction" - Major Kusanagi

External Links

References

  1. TV Tropes - Mamoru Oshii