Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in The Shell Essay

Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in The Shell Essay

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Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell
Science fiction has been a staple of film entertainment since George Melies first
explored the genre in his 1902 Le Voyage Dans La Lune. While even as early an
example as this contained many defining features of the genre which are still present
today, over 100 years of exploring the genre has both expanded and more accurately
defined what makes a film fit the science fiction niche. This paper seeks to explore
elements of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell and how they conform to science fiction
genre standards. These topics will include plot and thematic elements, as well as film
techniques and iconography. Furthermore, the film will be examined through the
reflectionist approach to determine how the story speaks to society’s mindset during the
time of its production.
In Sam Moskowitz’ Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction he gives
us a broad definition of the genre as a whole – not just specific to film: “Science fiction
is a branch of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the ‘willing suspension of
disbelief’ on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for
its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science and
philosophy.” (11) Because this definition speaks to the genre as a whole, including both
literature and film, it is a good starting point for identifying plot and thematic elements in
the movie that speak to the genre.
Many notable elements in the film speak to utilization of “an atmosphere of
scientific credibility.” Unlike other works in the fantasy genre, Ghost in the Shell sets
itself into the science fiction niche with this distinction. While typical fantasy includes

... middle of paper ...

...ed doors. The prominent
thematic element which hearkens to the science fiction genre is that of the creation
turning against its creator – the often-utilized “Frankenstein Theme.” By utilizing a
computer creation, Project 2571, the film speaks to the societal mindset at the time of its
making. By constantly asking what it means to be human, the film speaks to society’s
fear of the loss of self amongst an influx of computer technologies. In a world where
super computers are quickly approaching the processing speed of the human brain,
robotic technologies are coming to more closely resemble fluid human movements, and
artificial intelligence is continually becoming better able to “think” independently, it is no
wonder that an underlying societal reflection of this film is a fear of losing one’s own
sense of self while surrounded by computers gaining their own.

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