Essay on Shirow's Ghost in the Shell

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Shirow's Ghost in the Shell

The real beauty of Mamoru Oshii's adaptation of Shirow's Ghost in the Shell lies in its attention to detail and the sheer cohesiveness of these details which collectively form complex ideas and plot. In nearly every detail and every plot element lies some tie to the key themes of the anime. Some of the main themes deal with the commodification of the flesh and body; the separation between one's spirit and body; and the idea that a static environment or organism a weak stronghold. Here I will choose to focus on how through details the film explicates these themes, rather than spending time extrapolating or explaining the themes in detail myself.

The first key scene to examine is the interlude midway through the movie in which Motoko wanders through the city as music is played, inducing an almost transcendental mood. Nearly every one of those shots either shows the impersonality of the city, or some object which seems to make a statement about the separation between an individual and that individual's body, how the one does not equate to or determine the other.

For instance, Motoko sees several women- eating and walking- with the same face as her own, and the viewer immediately begins to wonder what else is similar. The concept that the body does not in any way determine the personality seems ridiculous to us, as our bodies are valued, and never to be bought sold, or worst of all, replaced. In the crowded, impersonal city (This impersonality was another important point, as that very lack knowledge of those around leads to a sort of commodification of strangers, which is similar to that same commodification of the body), among the thousands or millions of people she co...

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...when Motoko gears up in the van as she and Togusa chase the garbage truck. They speak of why he was hired, and her explanation is, "Overspecialize and you breed in weakness. It's slow death." Indeed, plot-wise, the only reason that Project 2501 chooses to meld with Motoko is that he does not wish to be weaker by being static.

All of these details are simply brief examples of variety and enormity of thought put into this animated film. Its visuals do as much for the themes as does its plot and dialogue, and neither may be completely separated. The endless foreshadowing brings about a certain interwoven quality of plot which makes this an amazingly complex- yet unified- story and concept. In all, Ghost in the Shell did a wonderful job of portraying its themes as each minute of the movie had something new to show, and all were related to the total narrative.
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