Don’t worry if you haven’t seen Oshii’s first ‘Ghost in the Shell’ anime of 1995 (I haven’t); indeed, don’t worry if you’re not an anime or manga buff (I’m certainly not). There’s still stuff here to blow your mind, stir your soul or do something nice to whatever makes you you. And don’t get upset that it’s near-impossible to follow in any real detail the tortuous ‘Blade Runner’-style story about a couple of cops investigating a series of murders committed by androids. Nor, I’d advise, need you take too seriously all the philosophical musings and quotations of the sc-fi/noir characters. Just see the film on the biggest screen you can find, and immerse yourself in Hong Kong, 2032. That said, as agent Batou – extensively modified anatomically so that only his brain and memories remain distinctively human, making him a cyborg – and his partner Togusa journey into an infernal realm where reality’s constantly open to question, the film does throw up intriguing issues about identity and existence: what exactly defines our humanity, and is that necessarily more important than anything else with regard to ethics, the value of life or the future of the world? Besides, the main pleasure provided by Oshii’s film are the extraordinary images created by a blend of CGI and 2D animation techniques. The elegance, attention to detail, the invention and expertise all ensure that the movie’s never less than visually breathtaking, the monumental sense of scale (especially during a festival scene) beautifully balanced by intimate characterisations – most notably in the improbably instance of a wonderfully endearing basset hound.
Cast and crew