Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell is an animated film directed by Mamoru Oshii. The movie is set in the future where technology is so advanced that people and technology are merged to become more efficient beings. An example is a doctor whose fingers elongate and pieces of metal can be seen underneath. Many humans have computers as a replacement for a brain which leaves them open to being hacked. The garbage collector was hacked in such a way that false memories of a fake wife and child was programmed in his brain. Even the picture he tried to show to his partner of his wife was just a picture of him. There are also secret police who track down and stop hackers. The protagonist, Makoto Kusanagi, is part of Section 9 and this episode causes her to question her identity. With the birth of advanced technology, individuality is lost. There is a scene where there is a lady inside a building that looks just like Kusanagi, while Kusanagi herself is standing on the street level. This shows that the protagonist could have been modeled after the lady and she is not original at all. She even questions her own existence.

“…there’s a remarkable number of things needed to make an individual what they are. A face to distinguish…A voice you aren’t aware of…The hand you see…memories of childhood…All of that goes into making me what I am…Perhaps…I’m a replicant made with a cyborg body and computer brain. Or maybe there never was a real “me” to begin with.”

She wonders if her brain is programmed to think that she is contains a “ghost”, what sets a part a human and a robot (similar to a soul). Even though her brain may be created to think this way, she does not blindly follow the influences of her environment but questions them.

Kusanagi knows that if she wants to leave the life she has now she has the choice to do so but in return she would have to give up all of her memories and live as an empty shell. This is similar to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where everyone is programmed to think they are happy and are practically brainwashed to say certain phrases. Most of the people of London are just empty shells that the government fills with what suits their needs.

Science and Technology is a prevalent theme in Ghost in the Shell. Since technology has become so advanced, the lines between artificial intelligence and humans are starting to blur so comes the question: what can be considered being human?

One thought on “Ghost in the Shell (1995)

  1. I really hate anime and probably couldn’t sit through watching this, however, with your description of what is taking place I do think that this would be the one I could watch if I watched any anime film. The idea of people and technology emerging is a pretty cool idea that I think people do think of often. I think that as a society although we don’t think about replacing our brains with technology (not all of us anyway 😉 we find ways to introduce technology into our bodies in order to make us whole again. for example a cochlear implant which is used to give hearing to those who are deaf is a form of technology used in some peoples body now. Also there are many amputees who through technological advances have the benefit of artificial limbs etc in order to fully function the way most people do. This really reminds of the themes explored in Bladerunner as well, where similarly the theme is what can be considered being a human being. This idea seems very strait forward on the surface but in some of the literature and films we see this can be a tough question to answer and figure out.

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