Posted by psgels on 3 January 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

After Twilight Q and Patlabor, I was looking forward to Mamoru Oshii’s most famous work: Ghost in the Shell. It’s probably the most well-known anime-movie of the nineties. With very detailed graphics, especially for those days, and a terrific soundtrack, I can understand why this became a classic for many people. Still, I wouldn’t really classify this among neither Mamoru Oshii’s nor Masamune Shirou’s best work.

First of all, while the movie might try to make you believe otherwise, the depth of this movie is much less than even the first Patlabor-movie (in my opinion, Mamoru’s most down-to-earth work). There’s one specific scene that feels too much like the creators just pasted in a piece of convenient philosophical dialogue, instead of cleverly inserting this in the storyline. At heart, this just remains a standard movie about catching a bad-guy. The concept has a lot of potential, but I just feel that the movie only scratched the surface of it. But yeah, this can be excused with the two movies and two television-series that followed.

What can’t be excused was the fact that a lot of things just aren’t explained. There are a few hints here and there at the characters’ backgrounds, but that’s all that we get. I would have liked to see Mamoru Oshii’s typical dialogue to explain more about both the characters and the plot, like he did so well in Twilight Q. Right now, there are a lot of holes in the stories that could have been explained just as well.

Still, Ghost in the Shell is by no means a bad movie; it just doesn’t deserve the huge hype. The characters are more likable than you would expect on first sight and despite their lack of development. The story is interesting enough to make you keep watching and the action is also quite well done: there’s not too much, it doesn’t get in the way of the story and there’s much less than I expected. One movie just isn’t enough for this concept, and I think I wasn’t the only one who got this idea.

10 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Monti says:

    Well at the time I had recently read the manga and I hated the movie on seeing it. Now knowing all the story and being a shirow fanboy I think it’s an OK movie, but I prefer by far the Stand Alone Complex series that the two “old” movies. If you feel you are not up to seeing 52 episodes of the Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. series there are 3 movies based on the series. Two explain the main story of each season and the other is some kind of epilogue at the end.
    I would recomend you both films, they are not as good as the series though.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Well, luckily the Ghost in the Shell-franchise isn’t as big as, say, Gundam or Macross, so I’ll probably get around to watching the two series some day.

  3. Avatar Archer says:

    i definitely agree that this movie is a bit overrated but this is the movie that influenced a lot of other movies and anime,the other two tv series are on a different level i think,but still i saw Patlabor i can say that maybe it’s better only when compared to the two movies because it is hard to compare any other anime with the 1st gig and 2nd gig(and that is not overrated at all)Oshii was too ambitious in this movie,he tried to use too many ideas in just one movie but even so the other two seasons using the characters and some of Oshii’s ideas managed to have more depth but still be accessible to understand if u pay enough attention because gits is not a anime that is meant for people to watch without thinking,the plots are probably one of the most complex but still realistic you will ever see in an anime,the characters get a lot of development(and not only the main ones)especially in the second season,the villains(if i can say so because u don’t see here the usual villain) are very captivating and unique,the sound is great even in the movies so no need to say anything about it,the graphics are amazing especially if u can get the best quality episodes(and it is not hard at all) and just like seirei there are episodes where the characters only talk but all that has meaning behind it and there is not that much action but when there is it will be breathtaking so i just hope that you will watch this anime psg because i think you won’t be disappointed because i saw u like stories with depth,even if i saw u did not enjoy that much the episodes from seirei where there was all talk(maybe because u saw them raw) and also love mystery so i cannot see why you should not watch one of the most original,amazing anime series ever made
    maybe another anime blogger must convince you *points at Washi :D*

  4. Avatar Skolem says:

    I beg to differ, the film is really good, it’s as good as a film could have been on this subject. I never understood why everything has to be explained in a movie, giving directions and hints is more than enough, it gives you a “feeling” for the setting and the characters and strengthen the “mystery” aspect of the movie. To me the plot is completely second and is just a mean to an other end. I would tend to separate strongly between the manga, the movies and the anime series. They are all playing in a different universe in my opinion. The movies are more a “philosophical” study of what a human beeing is, what reality is about and how far your senses are able to tell apart reality and “virtuality” (for the lack of a better term), it’s universe is far more mysterious, sometimes on the boundaries to magic, in the end images, music and text are here to give you a “non-academic” treatment of these question, asking for a full resolution or for more background for the characters is pointless and outside the aim of the film. The series are more “down to earth” cyberpunk with an incredible plot, great characters (you will learn all about them in the series) great pace and more. But it just don’t compare to the movies, they are both great but definitely aim for completely different things.
    And that is why, in my humble opinion, the movie was so acclaimed, it doesn’t bother with plot, character development etc. It is a great work of (audio-visual) art with hints to very strong ideas about philosophical questions. The second film and his even more “artsy” approach is I think one more argument for this.

  5. Avatar IKnight says:

    I’m broadly with skolem. It’s provocative, not explorative. TV shows (Stand Alone Complex) are explorative. Movies don’t have the time.

    And the best place for real philosophy is in university philosophy departments.

    I know what you mean about hype, and I think I recall the scene with ‘convenient philosophical dialogue’. I thought the sequel, Innocence, mostly consisted of that. And gratuitous, pointless quotation. Pretty animation, though . . .

  6. Avatar asdf says:

    i think it only feels hyped because it’s dated, and so much stuff has come out inspired by GiTS. it was pushing the bounderies of greatness at the time right? so now that those bounderies are standard it seems faded and pointless. but from the moment i started watching the 1st episode of the tv series i knew i would love it way more than i liked the movie. the 2 seasons of the show have barely anything to do with each other plotwise so you can sit down and watch the first season without worrying about needing to watch the 2nd one immediately after

  7. Avatar fener says:

    The TV series is definitely much wore watchable (and re-watchable!) than the movies.

  8. Avatar fener says:

    Also, please review the tv series if you can! It can always use more attention.

  9. Avatar BlueYoshi says:

    Watched the movie last night. Having a brief knowledge about the world of GitS (by watching the first 6 episodes of Stand Alone Complex), I already had enough knowledge about the main characters. I think I might have to agree with IKnight on this one. Even though the story did leave me confused at times, the film was very provocative to me, and that was why I liked it so much. It does help that the Production Values were top-notch, as usual from IG. IG is the only other anime studio that has a chance of beating DEEN as my fav anime studio at the moment.

  10. Avatar Jedman says:

    Probably the best Anime movie of all time.

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