Director: Mamoru Oshii
Release Date: March 29, 1996 (USA)
Summary (from IMDB): A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
Review: 4 out of 5 Stars
Later this year, the live-action remake of the 1995 Japanese anime classic Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson, will be released. Skip the remake and watch the original.
Ghost in the Shell is one of the most futuristic and strange movies imaginable, and its status as an animation film means that it has arguably aged better than live-action movies like Blade Runner or Total Recall.
Ghost in the Shell is set in 2029, (which, today, does not seem so far away) at a time when digital intercommunication networks owned by international corporations have almost, but not quite, abolished the distinction between national states. A hacker known as the “Puppet Master,” an artificial intelligence entity, is roaming throughout cyberspace and occupying human beings. In a race against time, a law-enforcement cyborg in female form hunts for the puppet master while also dealing with their own residual human feelings and thoughts: a ghost in the shell.
The Puppet Master plot is just a vehicle used to examine the deep questions of a cyberpunk society, especially those relating to humanity and gender: if the only thing that remains of your original human body is a small piece of your brain, are you still human? What exactly is a soul? When anyone can have or use any body of their choice, what exactly does gender mean anymore?
Ghost in the Shell is an evolutionary leap in the dark that anticipated our dependence on digital connection and our tendency to cede our identity and presence to the web. This futuristic classic has improved with age and looks all the more impressive 22 years on. For sheer mind-expanding sci-fi strangeness, Ghost in the Shell is hard to beat; it is an anime masterpiece that works both as an action film and a very evocative and thought provoking science fiction thriller.