Monday, 11 January 2010

Ghost in the Shell

A much feted anime and in many respects it's not hard to see why. At the time of its release, in 1995, it was groundbreaking on a visual level, using cutting-edge technology to deliver animation of unparalleled depth, with a truly filmic quality. The fact that it still has the ability to impress today is testament to the painstaking work of a talented animation team. Everything from the realism of reflective surfaces and the naturalism of movement, down to the details like the different physical effect of bullets striking different materials is stunning to behold.

Kenji Kawai's score is equally effective, capturing the mood of the film perfectly - its haunting, traditional sound works better than a futuristic electronic score would have done. It has a timelessness - the main theme is bordering on legendary.

The story is perhaps less impressive: exploring the implications of AI is not new in sci-fi, but it's easy to overlook the prescience of Oshii's vision of the net. Self-mutating digital viral strains travelling an invisible global network, the association of computer programs with DNA - these ideas are very familiar today, but the world wide web was barely in its infancy when this film was made. Despite owing a lot to Blade Runner,
visually and thematically, Ghost in the Shell will rightly go down as a landmark anime.

Dir. Mamoru Oshii, 1995

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