When someone asks for an example of an anime that had an impact on genres in the film industry, it’s hard not to think of Ghost in the Shell’s influence on sci-fi.
It is constantly referenced whenever this topic comes up and, after finally watching it, I understand why.
Based off the manga by Masamune Shirow, and directed by Mamoru Oshii, the film takes places in a cyberpunk future where the lines between what constitutes as human have begun to blur, due to so many people being augmented with technology.
It seems that the only feature that it takes for one to be recognized as a person in this world is the human consciousness known as a ghost, with the outer body merely being a shell, hence the title.
Our main character is Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), who has become so augmented that it appears only her ghost remains.
As she and her team track down a cyber terrorist known as the Puppet Master, we see how Kusanagi is struggling with her own questions about her humanity, leading to an ending that feels like a new beginning.
This is achieved not so much through words but rather through the visuals, as we see Kusanagi traveling the city, her almost robotic gaze raising questions about the perception she has of herself, with the terrific score playing in the background accompanying the likewise terrific animation.
It is through means like this that Ghost in the Shell raises interesting questions about what it means to be alive and evolve… which it never really answers.
Although, this is not not a bad thing because rather than it feeling like a copout, it feels like the writer is trying to raise genuine discussion on this subject.
This clearly worked too with how many films and shows took inspiration from the film, from shortly after it was released all the way up to now.
For example, I saw features that would influence both The Matrix and Westworld in the opening credits alone.
It achieves all of this in a pretty short runtime too, which is surprising and really shows how good its messaging is.
Along with this, the film has a surpisingly positive outlook on the future of technology, and I say “surprising” because so many other sci-fi films seem to focus solely on the negative consequences of these advancements.
I get the feeling that Ghost in the Shell is a film that will take me multiple rewatches to fully appreciate all of its questions and implications, yet I still feel like I experienced something after watching it for the first time.
Ghost in the Shell is definitely a masterpiece anime, one where its influences can be seen in movies to this day.